Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Melbourne, Australia
"world record for a filly sold at auction".
Am quite surprised with how much they'd pay - not so much because she might get injured as all these top horses are insured to the nines, but because I can't really see how they'll profit off her. Unless she wins the Dubai World Cup and a few other top prizes they won't get back what they put into her. Sunline was the premier mare in the world back at the beginning of the millennium (someone in the UAE reportedly offered $10 million for her), and when she retired her progeny sold around the $AU 1 million mark, but she only managed to pop three out before she passed away prematurely. None of them have turned out very good despite being by (expensive) leading stallions - it is rare for a top mare to also be a top dam and I can't actually think of any champion mares with champion progeny. Even with stallions it's a bit of a lottery, and the best studs are generally the ones who had a brief but good racing career, excellent bloodlines and breed true. Danehill, Sir Tristram, Galileo (current top sire by earnings, for those who were wondering), Storm Cat etc all sire a high rate of winners and stakes winners. Many also sire excellent studs themselves, such as Danehill Dancer (by Danehill), Zabeel (by Sir Tristram) and Giant's Causeway (Storm Cat), not to mention plenty of top broodmares (hence the "broodmare sire" leaderboard).
Whether or not a horse will be a champion is such a lottery that you see many top racehorses with breeding you wouldn't really look twice at. But blood will out and over many breedings, a top-bred stallion or broodmare (regardless of their racecourse performance) will produce more good horses than one with lesser breeding, even if it was a champion on track. The problem here is that I can't see this horse, even with her excellent breeding, producing enough foals to make a decent profit on the risk (once you factor in training for her racing career, insurance, stabling, feed, stud fees, vet bills and all the other costs involved).
In investment terms it just doesn't work from what I can see. Galileo, the top sire, had his progeny earn $11 million last year...but from 322 starters. It's all very well for a shuttle stallion, but a broodmare can only pop one a year, if that! She'd probably have to drop at least 12 foals and hope that the first few prove themselves on the racetrack (so the rest go for good prices) and hope for a good number of colts among that (as they sell for significantly more). If she drops a Dubai World Cup winner in her early years, then her progeny will sell like hotcakes (a lot of what gets the top prices is what the previous foals from that broodmare have done, so buyers are looking for full and/or half siblings) and she'll have been an excellent investment. But the odds of that aren't great, her only real claim to fame is that she's by Galileo (as were 322 other starters last year...).
From the quotes in the article it seems that they paid the price not for her as an investment but as another chance at track glory. But we all know that there is a huge amount of uncertainty there. Fools and horses, as they say - but it's that feeling of hope and expectation that drives the racing industry. An emotional rather than a rational decision I'd say.
On a related note, Seattle Dancer sold for $13.1 million (in 1985!) but didn't really turn out to be a champion on the track and his best foal was a Kentucky Oaks winner. $29 million in prizemoney for his produce over the course of a 19 year stud career is decent but not exactly amazing (look at Galileo, earning $11 million in one year, for example), and by the end of his stud career he was only getting EUR7000 as a stud fee. His price was driven up because he was half-brother to Seattle Slew, and there were some big names bidding for him. Silly money, in the end.
A crazy girl with a crazy horse