Blog Entries
Euroears Sings in the Bing Crosby
Category: Member Blogs

Bing Crosby sang, “Do you hear what I hear?”Yes, I do Bing!I heard Euroears pounding down the track in last weekend’s Bing Crosby Stakes in record breaking fashion! 





Holy Moly Repole!
Category: Member Blogs
Mike Repole with his “Band of Brothers”, Overdriven and Stay Thirsty, are overrunning the racecourse at Saratoga, with Uncle Mo yet to face battle. The Revolutionary War Battle of Saratoga marking a turning point in the war is symbolic of Repole Stables emerging as a dominating force that will change the landscape of racing in 2011.

There are always two parts to a race when a Repole Stable horse is entered: watching the actual race and watching the Repole Box following the race. I am instantly drawn in by the Repole family and friends, celebrating right along with them from my living room.  






Bunny In Kentucky! Part Four: A Note of Thanks
Category: Member Blogs



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A common school assignment asked of students upon returning for a new school year following summer break is to write an essay, “What I did on my summer vacation.” This would be my submission.




Dawn’s first light broke undisturbed, the quiet brilliance of a Sunday morning rising behind the trees and spilling into the lake below. Inside the house, all was similarly silent. It was on this morning I woke, rising with the sun as my family slept.


I drank my orange juice, shrugged on my day clothes and pulled on my farm shoes. I stepped out into the new day; a hot summer morning heavy with moist air. Temperatures already promised of yet another scorching July Georgia day.


Like any normal day, I fed the goats, dumped horse grain, and filled waters. I gave my thoroughbred, Polka, a kiss on the muzzle and sarcastically warned the one-eyed, thirty-year-old gelding not to stir up any trouble while I was gone.


Despite the masquerade of normalcy, this wasn’t just any other day. This was the day I would embark on a journey into my dreams.


All chores complete, bags packed, my mother and I climbed into the car. Mom took one last examination of the roadmap charting out our drive to Kentucky.


I impatiently implored my mother, “Come on! Let’s agitate the gravel!”


Mom glanced over to me, dryly replying, “Our driveway is cement.”


She then turned to give my dad and sister a final good-bye, and soberly said, “It’s going to be a long eight hours.”






I introduced myself to Kentucky two years prior when I visited Keeneland on opening day for their fall meet. The magic of that weekend was similar to meeting a life-long pen pal. The anticipation of seeing my “friend” again made me smile from every cell in my body.


Being the helpful “co-driver” that I am, I made sure to keep my mother updated on our progress every step of the way. “232 miles to Lexington!” “198 Miles to Lexington!” “163 Miles to Lexington!” “121 Miles to Lexington!” “72 Miles to Lexington!” “31 Miles to Lexington!”


I could feel instinctively my relationship with Kentucky was about to “go to the next level”. On the schedule was a visit to Taylor Made and to attend Fasig-Tipton’s July yearling sale. With no set expectations, I was ready to absorb and savor the experience.






As we turned into the Taylor Made entrance, I could only think of the short distance between me and Eskendereya - the brilliant powerhouse that has been one of my equine idols, catching my first attention in his 2009 maiden run. As the true Triple Crown hopeful was scratched days before the Kentucky Derby, I cried tears of sadness. But standing before him that day, I felt like crying tears of joy, awestricken by the genuine significance of the ‘what could have been’.


Tina Miller, Stallion Executive Assistant, graciously hosted the Taylor Made parade of Eskendereya, the legendary stallion Unbridled’s Song, and the very “in-fashion” Forestry. Tina’s friendly nature instantly made us feel at home among the grandeur of our surroundings, never rushing, every moment feeling as if she was glad to be with us. It made for a euphoric morning - the first of an extraordinary trip.






The horses are Kentucky’s crown jewel. However, it does not take long to realize that without the people, there would not be a crown. Spending the afternoon at Fasig-Tipton’s Newtown Paddocks proved that point.


We were kindly escorted by Taylor Made’s Director of Marketing, Patrick Mahan, into the Taylor Made tent. There we found Mark Taylor, VP of Public Sales; and bloodstock agent Buzz Chace. Within a few surreal moments I was speaking with two influential people in the horseracing industry.


Later in the day, I was seated on a park bench beside Frank Taylor, VP of Taylor Made’s Boarding Operations. While I ate orange sherbet from a cup, he shared stories of Unbridled’s Song’s auction history. Hearing about these events firsthand was particularly interesting and enriched what I had previously researched.


A few moments later I was pulled away by Mark Taylor who wanted to introduce me to “someone”. As we walked through to the other side of the barn, he said, “I want to introduce you to Carl Nafzger.”


Astounded, I said, “What?”


“Do you know who that is?” he asked.


“Yes. I know who that is!”


This would be one of many moments in this day that caused me to question my level of consciousness. ‘Dream? No…awake.’


I was humbled by meeting Mr. Nafzger and his wife, Wanda. The two-time Kentucky Derby winner and Eclipse award winning trainer kindly inquired about my blog, and I still wonder if I was successful in stringing together a cohesive response. They graciously accepted one of my cards. Carl Nafzger has MY card! Simply put: Totally cool!






What better way to wrap up my time in Kentucky than visit my favorite track and have breakfast with Julie Balog, Keeneland’s Director of Communications. Julie was one of the ‘first responders’ to Bits N’ Bunny with words of support and encouragement. I was looking forward to meeting and thanking her personally.


We met Julie at Keeneland’s Track Kitchen, filled with the lively activity of steadily flowing foot-traffic. With no on-going racing, there still was a buzz around the track. As we headed up to the counter to order, Julie stopped to introduce me to a tall, friendly gentleman; the legendary Ted Bassett, who has been Keeneland’s Chairman of the Board and Trustee for over forty years!


I was standing in the pages of my favorite books. Blinking hard at times, I had to remind myself that this was real. I was mesmerized not only by the horses that I was fortunate enough to meet, but the people I met.








I shamefully confess I never expected the people I met to be so generous with their time, gracious with their kindness, and genuine with their personality. The thrill of such a surprise has fueled my optimism for the horseracing industry. I left Kentucky inspired to continue to follow my heart, staying true for the good of the horse, the good of the people, and the good of the sport.


My heartfelt thanks to you all! See you on the backstretch! 


The Juvenile Chronicles: Part Two: Georgie's Angel & Overdriven
Category: Member Blogs
Georgie’s Angel’s Schuylerville Stakes




Legendary Turf writer Red Smith once described Saratoga: “From New York City, you drive north for about one hundred seventy-five miles, turn left on Union Avenue, and go back one hundred years.”


Many have referred to the entrance of Saratoga as a portal to racing’s rich past.Saratoga Race Course, the oldest sports venue still operating in the nation, has always paved a path towards horseracing’s future.The racetrack has commonly been the starting gate for the best of racing’s legends.Horses such as Man O’ War, Native Dancer, and Secretariat, have used this racetrack as a stage to first reveal their excellence.


Up and coming juvenile filly, Georgie’s Angel, has also used Saratoga Race Course, nicknamed ‘The Spa’, as a stage to spotlight her early success.When she gave her trainer, Todd Pletcher, his fourth win in the Schuylerville Stakes, Georgie’s Angel proved to be a horse that may have the ability to take the juvenile championships for fillies.


The Schuylerville, the feature race for Saratoga’s opening day, originally attracted a field of nine, but was a six horse contest due to the scratching of three horses.Among the cluster of promising fillies was Gypsy Robin whose race prior to the Schuylerville was a seventh place in the Group II Queen Mary Stakes.Georgie’s Angel, coming off a 6 ¼ length romp at Churchill Downs, was the betting choice at 4-5 by post time.


With John Velazquez aboard, Georgie’s Angel was the first to break from the gates.After a clean start, she was held back in third while 18-1 shot Vukovar rushed up to set the pace with Gypsy Robin (7-2) not far behind in second.Georgie’s Angel calmly maintained a half-length lead over eventual third placer, Force de La Nature at odds of 7-2.


After Vukovar set a blistering quarter mile of :21.38, Georgie’s Angel drew away from Force de La Nature, but the opposing juveniles trailing the Bellamy Road filly did not let her out of their sights.The entire field overtook the two leading fillies into the homestretch, despite having to go wide around the turn.Georgie’s Angel, owned by Sheffer Racing Stable, looked slightly weary under urging mid-stretch, however, when Velazquez went to the whip left-handed, it appeared that the filly accelerated, and galloped strong to the wire.With a time of 1:10.68, Georgie’s Angel’s winning margin was 1 ½ lengths.


Following the win, Pletcher stated that Georgie’s Angel’s next start will come in the form of the GI Spinaway Stakes on September 4.


Georgie’s Angel’s pedigree tells us that she should have the ability to run all day.Along with having a couple crosses of Belmont Stakes winner, Man O’ War, her third dam is by New Prospect, tracing back to La Troienne (FR).Another cross of La Troienne’s sire, Teddy (FR), can be found in New Prospect.


The Belmont Stakes in engrained into her female family.Horses from family eight include Belmont Stakes winner, Birdstone; Roman Ruler, a sire of Belmont Stakes winner, Ruler on Ice; Whirlaway, who won the Belmont Stakes to complete a successful bid for the Triple Crown; Belmont Stakes winners, Jazil, and his sister, Rags To Riches.Then there are other successful horses in that family such as Kentucky Derby winner, Fusaichi Pegasus; John Henry, who had multiple wins on Turf at the Belmont Stakes distance; and legendary sire, Storm Cat.




Overdriven’s Sanford Stakes




This proved to be a big weekend for Tale of the Cat’s stud record, having two big wins in the form of It’s Tricky in the C.C.A Oaks, and Overdriven, in the Sanford Stakes.Overdriven has an extremely similar pedigree to It’s Tricky, whose broodmare sire is Tale of the Cat.Both horses have crosses of Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer, and Bold Ruler.


Adding to this, the impressive three year old filly, and the juvenile colt are members of female family eight, which also had success this weekend with Georgie’s Angel, and Plum Pretty, who placed to It’s Tricky in the C.C.A Oaks.Each of these strong performances by the family eight horses come at Saratoga Race Course.


Overdriven is one of the multiple standouts out of a power-packed weekend of racing across the country.The physically impressive juvenile is owned by Mike Repole’s Repole Stable that campaigns Belmont Stakes second placer, Stay Thirsty; and Uncle Mo, who had his first workout at the dawn of Saratoga’s opening.


In the Sanford Stakes, Overdriven’s main opposition came in the form of Jack’s In The Deck, who was the only Stakes winner competing in the race.Jack’s In The Deck was my selection entering the Sanford.However, upon watching him cross the wire third beaten seven lengths, I have come to the conclusion that he may have to be dealt out of the Bits N’ Bunny deck if he continues to show no improvement.


Going off at odds of 1-4 in the six furlong contest, the colt ridden by John Velazquez broke cleanly from gate six, and hung at the hindquarters of pacemaker, Black Rhino.The two juveniles traveled several lengths ahead of the field.


Following the quarter mile run in :22.4, and a half mile run in :45.67, Overdriven had a surge at the quarter pole that brought him neck and neck with the opposing 11-1 shot.Overdriven overtook the eventual fourth placer, Black Rhino, into the stretch, and pulled away from the six horse field to win by four lengths.With his solid, fluid stride, this bay colt ran a relaxed race that displayed a remarkable young horse.
Trainer Todd Pletcher described his potential star perfectly: "...he's obviously a very mature two year old, physically and mentally, precocious and gifted with some natural talent."

Though the Saratoga Special is the next major race for juveniles, Overdriven will opt out of the Grade I due to the fact that he was raced back from his maiden quicker than normal.Instead, he will await the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes for better spacing between races, and if everything goes accordingly, will race in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.


Regarding the Champagne, we already know that Overdriven will handle the sandy track well, having won on the surface prior to the race.Against a five horse field, his maiden victory came at Belmont Park.Despite bobbling at the start, the Kentucky-bred two year old went on to defeat his competition by 3 ½ lengths.  


Bunny In Kentucky! Part Three: Auction Picks
Category: Member Blogs
Spending days browsing the sale catalogs, analyzing pedigrees and choosing my auction favorites has become a healthy obsession of mine.On the day of the sale, I get comfortable in front of my computer, wallet bulging with monopoly money, prepared to fill my barn with future champions, as I have done many times before.


This time, it would be different.This time, I would have the opportunity to see the pedigrees in the flesh, to touch the history that I have only been able to read about in books.I was eager about getting to see “my” horses for the first time at The July Sale held by Fasig-Tipton. Upon arriving at the auction, I was dismayed to find I had left my bulging wallet full of monopoly money at home!


I’ve spotlighted a few BNB Picks, as well as a few that impressed me at the sale.




HIP 5:Sold to Harris Training Center for $40K


BNB Pick
Unable to see Hip Five before the sale was conducted, I was eager to assess the son of Ghostzapper entering the walking ring.Hip Five has a pedigree worthy of a champion, his third dam producing nine winners, including 1993 Arc winner, Urban Sea, who went on to produce Galileo and Sea The Stars.Though his dam, Just Breezing, has only produced this yearling, and a two year old who has yet to start; I look to the multiple reoccurrences of success in this female family, and the smart breeding on which this colt was produced.


His second dam, Anzille, shows consistency that she may pass on to her unraced daughter.All eight of Anzille’s foals to race are winners, including a GI winner in Germany.Another one of her winners is Always Awesome, who showed in a stakes race.This leads me to believe the cross between Ghostzapper and Just Breezing will work well because Ghostzapper and Always Awesome share the same sire in Awesome Again.


The Canadian-bred yearling striding into the walking ring stood out to me as a racehorse.Long bodied and correct, this colt seemed as if he could develop into something nice given the proper amount of time to grow, being on the lighter side for horses at the sale.




HIP 27:Sold to Stonestreet Stables for $220K


Hip 27 is a dark bay or brown filly by Dehere, and out of Marialua, by Maria’s Mon.Named Island Love Song, she likely got her strength from her fourth dam, Won’t Tell You, who was the dam of 1978 Triple Crown winner, Affirmed; and the great-granddam of Chocolate Candy.Smoothly blended throughout her body, Island Love Song showed outstanding athleticism that was complimented by her marvelous beauty.Indubitably, buyers anticipated seeing such a close relative of our last Triple Crown winner.




HIP 54:Sold to Goldenmark Farm and Todd Quast Agt for $100K


BNB Pick
A bay filly by Corinthian and out of North East Gale, by Tale of the Cat; this yearling will be a queen at the one mile distance.Corinthian, whose first foals are two year olds of 2011, won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in striking fashion.Hip Fifty-Four’s second dam, North East Dancer, produced the durable Grade II winner, North East Bound, who placed in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.




HIP 71:Sold to Crupi’s New Castle 3 for $170K


BNB Pick


From the breeding of Medaglia d’Oro-Prop, by Unbridled’s Song, Hip Seventy-One was my top selection from the sale.Getting to inspect him before he went through the ring, I was satisfied by this dark bay or brown colt.Though he was smaller than most horses at the sale, and may need some extra time to develop, he was tremendous in his conformation.Hip Seventy-One was put together beautifully, with a long back and powerful, angular hindquarters.


What initially impressed me on paper was the crossing of Medaglia d’Oro and an Unbridled’s Song mare.I take a liking to this breeding because Medaglia d’Oro traces back to Northern Dancer, and Unbridled’s Song is a descendant of Mr. Prospector.I also noticed that his family consists of horses such as Justwhistledixie, and Grade II winner, Smooth Air.




HIP 127:NOT SOLD($57K)
This colt out of Sunette, by Lil’s Lad was the best of the impressive Street Hero progeny at the sale.The bay yearling already seemed ready to go to post when he paraded before me in the walking ring.His neck was prominent and long, presenting the sought after ‘S’ shape.Hip 127’s chest was deep and powerful. Horses who have such large chests consequently have a conformation fault called base-narrow, where the leg angles underneath the chest instead of angling directly underneath the shoulder, causing most horses with this flaw toe-in or toe out.Hip 127 had neither imperfection.


The colt tracked correctly, and had short rear pasterns-a quality that most yearlings do not yet have.His shoulder and hindquarters were substantial, and his body depth was exceptional.This horse seemed to have everything.I was baffled by the bidding and that this horse did not sell. Perhaps there was something amiss with his scoping or vetting that I was unaware of.






HIP 145:Sold to Waters End Bloodstock for $83K


BNB Pick
This filly was my favorite horse on paper, with an outstanding pedigree for any surface.Crosses very similar to hers have had considerable success.This chestnut filly is by English Channel (by Smart Strike) and out of a Belong to Me mare.2010 Preakness winner, Lookin’ at Lucky, is by Smart Strike, and out of a Belong to Me mare.This cross also implies that she will be a strong Turf horse because both Smart Strike and Belong to Me have offspring that runs successfully on Turf.Smart Strike’s strong Turf progeny includes Hip 145’s sire, English Channel.




HIP 160:Sold to Goldmark Farm, and Todd Quast Agt for $20K(Sold again Post-Sale)


BNB Pick


By Bluegrass Cat, and out of Winds, by Gone West; this dark bay or brown colt was a horse I greatly anticipated seeing at the sale.I noticed that Hip 160’s breeding is similar to 2011 Preakness Stakes winner, Shackelford.As with Shackelford, Hip 160 is by a Storm Cat stallion.Shackelford is out of an Unbridled mare, and Hip 160’s second dam is by Unbridled.The Storm Cat/Unbridled cross brings Northern Dancer, and Mr. Prospector into this horse’s pedigree.I find it interesting that Hip 160’s broodmare sire, Gone West, is a son of Mr. Prospector.
I was first attracted to Hip 160 due to the fact that his second dam was a full-sister to the late Banshee Breeze, who had a stellar career on the racetrack which included wins in the C.C.A Oaks, Alabama, and places in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (twice), the Kentucky Oaks, the Spinster, and Personal Ensign.


Another selling price that made me scratch my head.




HIP 173:Sold to Pike Racing, Agent for $80K


A grey or roan filly by Medaglia d’Oro, and out of Alarming Prospect, by Darn That Alarm; her dam’s list of foals to race boasts Grade II winner, French Park.I found it curious that all but one horse included in the catalogue as Medaglia d’Oro’s top progeny are fillies and mares.


Hip173’s virtues featured a long, strong neck, followed by a powerful back level with her withers.The light grey filly exhibited impressive body depth when compared to her peers.The big-chested filly strutted on her strong front legs preceding her short cannon bones.Hip 173 was a very correct horse without a noticeable conformation fault.However, most memorable for me about this filly was her “cuteness factor”.She was a complete doll, blinking softly with her kind eyes underneath her short, fluffy forelock.I could not forget when I greeted her in her stall the morning of the sale, when she put her soft nose on my shoulder, and allowed me to kiss her tender muzzle.




HIP 262:Sold to Ben Glass, Agent for $210K


BNB Pick


A bay colt by Belmont Stakes winner, Lemon Drop Kid, and out of Field of Dreams, by Meadowlake; this colt was among the most impressive of the horses at the sale.A powerful family supports Hip 262, his third dam being the third dam of Irish winner, Tomahawk.Another quality of this fine young horse is the Mr. Prospector/In Reality cross found in his third generation.


Hip 262 emerged from the sliding doors of wood, strutting into the sales ring.Coat and black mane glistening under the spotlights, it was instantly evident that he was a son of Lemon Drop Kid.Hip 262 strongly resembled the portraits of the Darley Arabian, with his dragonesque neck and sheer extravagance.The strapping bay appeared as if he was perfection itself in the sales ring, and buyers seemed impressed.




Other BNB Picks that I will be watching in the future:
Hip No. 23, 84, 147, 163, 184, 251, 271 


Bunny In Kentucky! Part Two: Fasig-Tipton
Category: Member Blogs
The realm of Thoroughbred auctioneering has been generated off the prospect of prosperity.Be it for the hope of profit, or the aspirations to grace the record books, gambling with such colossal sums of riches on these untested youngsters delights the senses with the possibility of success.


The yearling sales began anew at the exquisite Fasig-Tipton auction ring situated in Lexington, Kentucky.There is not a more fitting scene for the selling season to dawn than the backdrop of such grand history in Thoroughbred auctions.


Fasig-Tipton, established in 1898 by William Fasig and Edward Tipton, is North America’s oldest auction company.Its first headquarters were located in Madison Square Garden, where they sold upscale road and carriage horses, as well as Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds for the purpose of racing.


Following Fasig’s death in 1903, office assistant and former stablehand, Enoch James Tranter, took his place and modified the catalogues (that originally listed back to the thirtieth dam) to display less of the distant generations, so buyers could be better informed about the details of the immediate family’s race and produce record.Fasig-Tipton led the way as the first auction company to require certificates of health and pregnancy at broodmare sales.


The great auction company launched its renowned Saratoga Sale in August of 1917.The auction quickly became known as a place to purchase quality horses with the sale of Man O’ War the year succeeding its creation.


However, the Saratoga Sale was put on hold during World War II when breeders could not freely ship their horses around the country. In 1943, Fasig-Tipton pitched a tent at Keeneland Racecourse located in the breeding hub of the nation, and conducted the sale which included the 1945 Kentucky Derby winner, Hoop Jr.


Even when the Saratoga Sale resumed, the yearling auction in Kentucky remained in place. Keeneland took over the sale from 1963 to 2002, the year in which the sale ended. It was not until 1972 when Fasig-Tipton once again conducted their own July yearling sale at their training center on Paris Pike. This coincided with the relocation of the Fasig-Tipton headquarters to Kentucky. Just three years later, the entire operation moved to its current location on Newtown Pike in Lexington, the same year Seattle Slew was sold.The auction, held under their recently renovated sales pavilion, grants an impressive list of graduates that includes horses such as Genuine Risk, Unbridled, Rainbow Quest, and Mine That Bird.


I have been a student of sales catalogues and glued to my computer watching live telecasts - when available - from my home. We arrived at the gorgeous entrance of Fasig-Tipton on a brutally warm, humid afternoon. As we parked, I felt excitement tighten in my stomach as I spotted yearlings being led around the barn area.


Anxious to see my top selections with my own eyes, I made a bee-line straight for the Taylor Made consignment. The Taylor Made shedrow was the place to be, and not just because they had an ice cream cart featuring six different flavors!The army of Taylor Made soldiers was uniformly dressed in shirt and tie, looking dapper even in the oppressive heat.The barns were tastefully decorated with lovely large planters, farm signage, and posters promoting the many successes of Taylor Made.
There were two “welcome centers” on each side of the barn to accommodate anyone’s request to see a particular yearling. It is just as simple as ordering Chinese food; tell them the number and the horse is quickly brought out for you to critique. The oval gravel walkways that separated the barns had multiple yearlings being shown for numerous potential buyers. Every person was exceptionally friendly, and projected a professionalism that you would expect from such a top notch sales agency, regardless of the sweltering heat.


Many other consigners also worked very hard to present their yearling prospects: Gainesway, Paramount Sales, Eaton Sales, to name a few.The grounds were bustling throughout the day with consigners showcasing as many yearlings as possible before the big sale day.


Auction Day


The sales pavilion is a building that I imagine will not just impress at first glance, but will garner the same reaction for decades to come. The structure stands as a fitting venue for the exchange of fortunes. The outside of the building had the appeal of a stable that I would expect to find on a royal estate in England.


We entered the building from the side, which brought us into the hallway surrounding the room my mother deemed, “The Selling Theater”. The outer wall of the hallway is a gallery graced with photographs of accomplished horses that have treaded through the historic Fasig-Titpon sales ring, offering me the opportunity to absorb some Thoroughbred racing history.
The inner wall was smartly designed with a succession of windows that is a visual extension of the selling theater. This accommodates visitors coming and going from the theater; a place where one can stand and chat with others while still watching the action of the sales ring.


The nucleus of the facility is the sales ring which is surrounded by rows, in a semi-circle, of movie-theater style seating. There is beautiful wood paneling on the walls and ceilings; a feature consistent throughout the entire facility.


At the 10:00 AM start time, Fasig-Tipton Director of Marketing and Sale Announcer, Terence Collier sat high atop the podium with the auctioneer, just as you would find a Captain and his First Mate at the helm of a boat announcing the rules of battle. Of course, all said with the utmost courtesy.


Mr. Collier launched the sale by inviting Hip No. One into the ring. He implored the onlookers to have some sympathy about being the first to go and recognize she is worthy of a strong selling price. The advice energized bidders up to eighty thousand dollars, but the bidding fell short of the seller’s reserve.


The engine was started and the sales vehicle was now purring along. The sale was driven from the auctioneer’s podium which was centered towards the back of the auction ring between two large wooden sliding doors.


There was a well-choreographed process that repeated itself throughout the day with rhythmic smoothness. The large solid “in” door (stage left) silently glides open, and the yearling is quickly handed off to a sharp dressed Fasig-Tipton handler for the sale presentation. The original consigning handler inconspicuously slides behind the podium to the “out” door (stage right) waiting to regain possession of the horse once the gavel finalizes the deal. And the wheels on the bus go round and round. There was only one exception – an apprehensive youngster refused to walk through the door into the sale ring. Handlers overcame the delay by backing the horse into the ring. Who thinks this horse will be a lousy gate loader?


Fasig-Tipton has created an environment not unlike a museum would when displaying masterpieces. The atmosphere is dedicated to promoting the best look for the horse. The lighting is complementary and each beautifully groomed animal looks worthy of the stage. I could even imagine my thirty year old Northern Dancer grandson would look quite spiffy up there!


While in the ring, Mr. Collier politely introduces each yearling to the crowd by highlighting a few pedigree positives, after which the auctioneer proceeds into his montage of vowels and consonants connected by those all-important numbers. The handler is patient and gentle with the youngster as most respond with some level of nervousness in reaction to the circumstance. Circling on the mauve synthetic shavings, one will occasionally whinny, no doubt alarmed by their isolation from the other horses as they look out at the spectacle of the audience. Add to that the spotters noting bids, yelling and flailing their arms as if they were an umpire calling strikes.


Soon after the start of the sale, my mother elected to stay in the comfortable, air conditioned theater, while I was excited about venturing out to the walking ring where most of the people chose to observe the sale. The walking rings were set up to “conveyor belt” the prospects in an uncomplicated manner to the auction ring.


While one yearling was in the sales pavilion, the horse on-deck would be waiting its turn in the alley just behind the door to the auction ring. The inside walking ring held the two to three consecutive hip numbers that were to follow. The further most outside ring held the next four to five consecutive hip numbers to those in the inside ring. As a horse would step into the auction ring, the next would take its place in the alley. The next appropriate hip number from the outside ring would then fill the void in the inside ring, and so on and so forth. Clockwork!


I was fortunate enough to capture a bar stool on the rail of the inside walking ring. I placed myself in position where I was able to get a good look at each prospect walking directly towards me giving me the chance to observe how each yearling tracked.I spent hours in this spot for it allowed me a wonderful opportunity to examine the yearlings one last time as they made multiple laps…and I feared losing my el primo bar stool. My mother kept me stocked with water and food. I even ate my Subway sandwich ringside to keep my position safe. I am not sure whether this was proper etiquette but it was worth the risk!


This vantage point also offered me the opportunity to catch some bidding action. The center of the walking ring featured a podium with two spotters able to receive bids from this location and multiple television screens in order to observe the happenings in the selling theater.


I am fortunate to have experienced this sale as the first auction that I have attended. Not only was it inspiring to see so many lovely yearling hopefuls, but also to observe the highest levels of professionalism in sales, both in the consignors’ conduct and with the Fasig-Titpon facility and staff.




Not wanting to leave out any details from my visit to The July Sale, I am following up with a separate article highlighting my Bits N’ Bunny picks and how they fared in the sales ring. 


Bunny In Kentucky! Part One: Taylor Made
Category: Member Blogs
For the complete photo essay of my visit, refer to the Bits N' Bunny Facebook Page

Reverence of the thoroughbred racehorse is distinctive from any other breed of horse. Over time, it has captured the hopes and dreams of so many people, and sometimes even a nation.An unexplainable force has snatched my heart into a world where perfect exhilaration and the lowermost sorrows are neighbors.

My deep desire to study and observe horseracing has unimaginably brought me up close and personal, to a place where the hopes and dreams of today’s thoroughbred horseracing begin.
Taylor Made, located in Nicholasville, Kentucky, graciously extended an opportunity to me to visit their incredible facility. Taylor Made is a brilliant balance of modern day thoroughbred sales and family farm.


My parents with their continual love, support and guidance, have and will always be an influence throughout my life, which is not unlike Joe Taylor’s impact on the lives of his sons Duncan, Ben, Frank and Mark. This became evident to me upon being introduced to Mark Taylor. Not even five minutes had passed when he spoke fondly of his late father.As written in Taylor Made literature, “Lessons learned from their father, legendary horseman Joe Taylor, that honesty, hard work, superior horsemanship, quality horses and quality people are the keys to long-term success.”I had the privilege of witnessing this in action.


At the dawn of major syndications in the 1970’s, new investors were purchasing broodmares to support the stallions in which they owned shares.As a result, stabling and pasture space began to run scarce at the major breeding farms.Joe Taylor’s oldest son, Duncan, saw the opportunity to board overflow mares booked to Gainesway stallions on a small farm that was owned by his father, who held the position of stallion manager at Gainesway.


At nineteen years old, Duncan Taylor, with his younger brothers joining the business, began expanding his boarding farm to include services that prepare the boarded mares’ foals for public auction.Taylor Made originally sold a mere three horses in their first ever consignment. The sales agency quickly became popular, selling three horses for one million dollars in its first five years and eventually selling $1.7 billion worth of horses since its first consignment in 1976.


In 1997, they opened their doors for stallions by welcoming Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion, Unbridled’s Song as their first stud to stand as a Taylor Made Stallion.Their stallion division would be the home of legends and greats such as Artax, Saint Ballado, and Real Quiet.Though Saint Ballado was said to have a temperamental disposition, I was informed that he was an amiable stallion during his time at Taylor Made.


With laser-like focus on the pursuit of assisting customers towards success in the horseracing industry, Taylor Made provides its customers with a team of specialists to ensure the best care for the horses and strive for the best possible opportunities to create a positive financial outcome.It has been estimated that the Taylor Made crew has a total of four hundred years of combined experience.


Taylor Made sits on the tip of the sword of thoroughbred horseracing, constantly setting high standards of integrity and excellence that ripples throughout the industry as the ideal way of doing business. It is impossible not to realize this upon visiting their farm.


The Visit


Upon my arrival at Taylor Made, I was warmly met by their Stallion Executive Assistant, Tina Miller, who suggested I fill my pockets with peppermints before we head up to see the “boys”.As we walked up the stone pathway heading towards the stallion complex, you first pass through the farm cemetery, reminding us of the horses who have helped weave the tapestry that is now Taylor Made.


Finally reaching the top of the hill, surrounded by the Stallion Complex, I was faced with the sight of a beautiful chestnut with a white star on his face being led towards me.Eskendereya!The hot summer day cannot take credit for my sweating palms and beating heart at that moment.This magnificent horse that I have admired from afar was now within reach of my own hands. My eyes cast over his handsome red face and we were no longer strangers.


Being a young horse, just four years of age, Eskendereya’s air of mischievousness was revealed when he tried to encourage someone to pull on his tongue. His joyful spirit was endearing, standing contentedly for all the hugs, kisses, and peppermints that I bestowed upon him.


Eskendereya not only captured my heart with his spirit, but also impressed me with his physical size, strong legs, and level of maturity that will demand respect in the breeding shed.The promise of Eskendereya’s legacy will begin its journey with his first crop of foals in 2012.


The time came to say goodbye to Eskendereya, “Until we meet again my new friend.”Watching him walk down the path to his barn, is a moment that will be engrained in my memory for a lifetime, because waiting in the distance I could see Unbridled’s Song, the king of Taylor Made.The fleeting moment was surreal, Eskendereya and Unbridled’s Song gracing me with their presence in this storybook like setting.This was my reality.This is what teenage girls dream of!


My mother put her arm around me and whispered, “Look who is coming to see you.”Unbridled’s Song is a horse with great accomplishments both on the racetrack and in the breeding shed.None of that mattered.What I saw before me was the single most beautiful sight ever before my eyes.He is what fantasies of winged horses with magical powers are made from, an unearthly beauty.Dripping with elegance, his long neck stretched out from his strong back reaching for a peppermint.The stallion projected an air of nobility, leaving me reserved as I stood beside him. Respectfully touching his shoulder, I was mesmerized by the mirror-like shine of his coat that has grown white over time.It was a true honor to have met Unbridled’s Song.


Shackelford’s sire, Forestry, was enjoying his day grazing in a paddock, quarantined before he ships to Argentina for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season.Not compromising his security, it was a look but don’t touch situation.He ventured over to the fence to “check us out”, and his beautiful face displayed that signature blaze which he passes on to many of his progeny.


Old Fashioned and Northern Afleet were turned out in their side by side paddocks hanging out nearby one another.Once Old Fashioned heard the crumple of a peppermint wrapper, he wasted no time in abandoning his stablemate.


It was time to switch gears and head to the broodmare divisions. I was overwhelmed by the acres of green rolling hills bordered by black fencing.The mares and their foals dotted the landscape enjoying a peaceful time together as mommy and baby, with the nuisance of the flies being their only concern.I’m sure there were some future greats in my sights, but I only saw little, sweet, sugar babies.


Tina took me searching for the 2010 Kentucky Oaks placer, and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint third placer, Evening Jewel.Not being in foal, she shared a paddock with another mare who did not have a foal on the ground.I not only found her conformationally impressive, but also she has a charming look and personality.What a surprising treat to meet this accomplished mare, and real sweetie to boot.
We gladly hopped back into the car to head over to the Yearling complex.I don’t know who invented air conditioning, but I feel a deep desire to send someone a Thank You card!The heat that day was pushing the thermometer into the high nineties.


The yearlings were being hosed down and returned to their large stalls that were deeply bedded with clean straw.A box fan hung on each door and every stall front was labeled with the horses’ relevant information on a white board.I found it so interesting to stroll through the aisle, read all the crosses, and see the result of that breeding. I saw Forestry babies with those big blazes, Tiznow, Distorted Humor, Medaglia d’Oro, Unbridled’s Song, Songandaprayer, Horse Greeley, and more.A buffet of bloodlines!


The yearlings represent the end of the long wait for Taylor Made.Breeding the mares, foaling and raising healthy, strong candidates for public auction is a journey that has required a tremendous amount of manpower and luck.Each yearling I saw had all their ducks-in-a-row, ready to go to the sale, hopefully to begin a prosperous career for their new owner.


The meticulous care that Taylor Made provides their horses is amazing when seen firsthand. They rub mud on foals’ legs, which not only keeps them cool to fight off inflammation, but also keeps them from stomping to combat the irksome flies. Not once did I see manure in any of the stalls and barn aisles were constantly blown clean.The best example I can provide to explain Taylor Made’s gold standard of attention to detail is the gravel walkways leading up to the barn entrances are raked into a checkerboard pattern. Since arriving back home, I’ve been half expecting my mother to suggest to me that I rake the areas in front of our chicken coop and goat paddocks in that fashion!


Two things fuel the engine of Taylor Made: the horses and the people.The spirit of Taylor Made is represented in every person I saw.One could imagine any of these people being a great neighbor.I recognized their friendliness and positive energy while doing any task as it is a value that my parents work hard to instill in me.


Yes, I unabashedly relished my visit to Taylor Made!Along with the obvious star struck moments, there was another feeling that took me a few days to identify correctly: comfortable.Okay everyone, not a like a sofa!Sometimes when I’m learning about or watching horseracing, there are those moments that I am uncomfortable about what I am hearing or seeing.It is usually a result of people just wanting to “get it done”, taking short cuts.However, Taylor Made’s DNA is drenched in the “get it right” factor which seeps into every corner and crevasse of this farms existence.
Unbridled's Song 


Dissing The Dudes!
Category: Member Blogs

Affirmed v. Alydar. John Henry’s Arlington Million. Tiznow’s Breeders’ Cup Classics. Zenyatta’s 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic. All these races join each other in racing history as exhilarating photo finishes. This year’s edition of the Hollywood Gold Cup is worthy of the race’s rich background occupied by some of the greatest racehorses. 





Buys and Blunders: Part Four: The Bargain Bin
Category: Member Blogs
With the auction season gearing up, one of my favorite things to do is “shop” the sales catalogues.Instead of looking forward to what might be, I thought it would be interesting to highlight a few sales from the past and see how it all turned out.I will be writing four articles in this series, starting with Yearlings, moving to Two Year Olds, Broodmare Prospects and The Bargain Bin.

This article has been, by far, my favorite of the “Buys and Blunders” series.While writing every word, smiling, shaking my head in wonder about how incredibly lucky these owners were to hold these winning lottery tickets.It has been proven again and again that a few diamonds will slip through the cracks in the auction ring.Who doesn’t love those stories of the unassuming owners that hit it big. It would be like a minor league player who gets to swing a bat in the World Series, hitting the game winning home run.


I hope you enjoy reading about these great horses as much as I loved writing about them.I watched Mine That Bird’s Kentucky Derby ten times for this article and was grinning ear to ear every time!It will never get old. 


Great Expectations: The Juvenile Chronicles
Category: Member Blogs
So fragile, yet so powerful is the young thoroughbred.  In a time long before a juvenile’s talent is truly revealed, Jack’s in the Deck stands atop the delicate house of cards that is two year old racing...

Read more at Bits N' Bunny


Buys And Blunders: Part Three: Broodmare Prospects
Category: Member Blogs

The cat is out of the bag by the time a mare enters her broodmare career, regarding her talent as a runner.  However, champion or maiden claimer, there are still risks involved in obtaining a broodmare at public auction.  Buyers are banking on the hope that these mares will produce champions...Read More

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Buys And Blunders: Part Two: Two Year Olds
Category: Member Blogs
With the auction season gearing up, one of my favorite things to do is “shop” the sales catalogues.Instead of looking forward to what might be, I thought it would be interesting to highlight a few sales from the past and see how it all turned out.I will be writing four articles in this series, starting with Yearlings, moving to Two Year Olds, Broodmare Prospects and The Bargain Bin.

Waiting to buy a two year old can be a costly decision.Yearlings are truly gambled on for their pedigree and conformation in hopes of greatness.The juveniles hitting the auction ring can compare to having a recipe that you are ready to pull out of the oven.It’s no longer just a list of great ingredients, but now you can start to see what the finished product might look like.They are developing under tack just months away from beginning their racing career.
When two year olds begin to reveal their potential is when prices can explode.The juvenile sales can be quite costly as buyers get a closer look at what could be in this prospect’s future.
The then unnamed Unbridled’s Song was a colt entered in the 1995 Barretts sale in March for two year olds in training.His seller, Erine Paragallo, had purchased him at Saratoga’s yearling sale for $200,000.New to the yearling to juvenile pinhooking business, Paragallo made people chuckle when he made wild predictions about his grey colt.“He’s going to sell for more money than any two year old ever has.”He also stated, “I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t sell for a million dollars.”
His colt did have a strong pedigree, and had nothing noticeably at fault in his conformation.Unbridled’s Song was by Kentucky Derby winner, Unbridled, and out of Trolley Song.His dam was by Caro (IRE) who sired Winning Colors, winner of the 1988 edition of the Kentucky Derby.
Though Unbridled’s offspring had never stepped foot on a racetrack, the stallion’s progeny showed great promise.Unbridled was a quick developer, winning first time out as a two year old by 10 ½ lengths.This meant that the return of investment could come quickly for potential buyers of the Unbridled colt.
Unbridled’s Song was rightfully noticed when he stepped into the auction ring in California, satisfying his seller when the winning bid was $1.4 million.He sold to a Japanese owner, Hiroshi Fujita, who ordered post-sale X-rays which revealed a bone chip.Fujita requested to return the most expensive juvenile up to that point.Paragallo surprised many when he took Unbridled’s Song back.
“They’ve just made the biggest mistake of their lives.” He said after the sale.“They’ll never find a horse as good as this one.I didn’t want to sell him anyway.We’re going to win the Breeders’ Cup, and they’re going to wish they had never brought the matter up.”
Paragallo’s flamboyant prediction yet again became reality when a massive Unbridled’s Song crossed the wire first by a neck in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Instantly, Unbridled’s Song was made the favorite for the 1996 Kentucky Derby, coming off a romp in his final Derby prep.However, he acquired a small crack in his left front hoof, and it was patched with acrylic.Many horses race perfectly normal with this issue, but it spelled disaster for Unbridled’s Song.
The behemoth colt maturing to seventeen hands came back lame from a workout six days out from the run for the roses, and it was discovered that the acrylic patch had caused a bruise and a small infection.Immediately, different shoes were placed on the colt, and his foot was soaked in a tub.
More bad luck came when he drew post
position twenty, which, at the time, no horse had ever won from.The Unbridled’s Song camp experienced a stroke of good luck, as small as it was, when another horse scratched, and Unbridled’s Song was moved into gate nineteen.However, no horse has ever won from that post position either.
Despite all the hardships of Unbridled’s Song’s Derby week, he still managed to cross the wire fifth.I consider this an outstanding feat, taking into consideration all the troubles that came before the race.Even rival trainers in that year’s Kentucky Derby considered Unbridled’s Song as the best horse in the race.
After his exceptional racing career, Unbridled’s Song went on to be a brilliant sire.His progeny’s winning percentage is an astonishing forty-nine percent, and his offspring’s total earnings on the track exceed $74.5 million.He has sired eighty-seven stakes winners, thirteen of whom are GI winners.Only three other active stallions in the United States have sired more GI winners.Unbridled’s Song has had eleven or more stakes winners for eight consecutive years, and has had Eclipse Award winners or finalists for four consecutive years.In 2008 alone, he sired twenty-two stakes winners, and in 2009, twenty stakes winners were sired by Unbridled’s Song.His foals can both sprint, and have success at longer distances.His top progeny includes late 2008 Kentucky Derby placer, Eight Belles; 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, Midshipman; 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner, Unrivaled Belle; Thorn Song, Political Force, First Defence, and Songandaprayer.In the auction ring, his foals have also shined, because twenty-four of his sale horses have brought seven figure prices.Standing at Taylor Made Stallions with a stud fee of $125,000, Unbridled’s Song has proven that he was well worth the price that Hiroshi Fujita was willing to pay had the X-ray came back negative at the Barretts sale.
Trainer Randy Hartley and Dean De Renzo had just been outbid on a yearling colt from the breeding of Forestry-Magical Masquerade, by Unbridled at Fasig-Tipton’s July Sale for yearlings when the auctioneer was in the midst of hammering down the colt to another buyer.Suddenly, De Renzo threw in a final bid on the son of Forestry for $425,000.The bid won the Hartley/De Renzo team the colt, but it was risky business buying such a pricey horse for the purpose of reselling it as a two year old in the spring.
Going into the sale, the then unnamed The Green Monkey had never breezed due to Hartley/De Renzo’s fears of injuring the horses.This created a sense of curiosity, not knowing what The Green Monkey could do on the racetrack.However, he wowed everyone at the sale when he finished his eighth of a mile work in :9.4 seconds with striking fashion.The Green Monkey was so impressive that many around the sales facility believed that the colt could go for ten million dollars at the Fasig-Tipton Calder sale.
When bidding began on the uneasy colt, constantly circling his handler, the bids shot past two million dollars in just over one minute.Yet again, it was Sheikh Mohammed represented by John Ferguson, and Coolmore Stud, represented by Demi O’Byrne.
Only the two bidders remained as the colt’s price rocketed past four million dollars, onlookers from outside stepping into the sales pavilion to watch the dispute over the striking bay.
Seattle Dancer’s big price was passed with John Ferguson’s bid of $13.5 million, but O’ Byrne countered with a fourteen million dollar offer.However, Ferguson raised the bar with a one million dollar jump to fifteen million dollars.O’Byrne, determined to get The Green Monkey, placed a bid of $15.2 million.
The bidding had slowed, but Ferguson was still willing to respond with a bid of $15.5 million.After a pause, O’Byrne threw in an offer of sixteen million which won Coolmore the colt.When the auctioneer hammered down The Green Monkey, the spectators erupted with applause that alarmed the anxious colt who had paced around the ring for ten minutes.
The Green Monkey raced in America, his greatest finish being a third place.Despite his racing record, his stride was measured at 25 ½ feet, and when galloping, his speed reached forty-five miles per hour.For his stud career, he stands at Hartley/De Renzo that also stood Mr. Prospector at the dawn of his stallion career.The Green Monkey’s offspring has yet to be tested, being yearlings of 2011.
It is yet to be determined whether Coolmore’s record breaking investment was a wise one.Keep in mind horses like Storm Cat who had a less than impressive racing career and went on to be a legendary sire.So we wait and see.


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