Yearling Prices and Racing Ability:the rewards are hard to find

Perhaps it is having an expensive horse running in your colors as the financial returns are somewhat elusive. Yearling prices do not necessarily mirror racing ability. For example, let’s consider purchases made at the 2015 Magic Millions yearling sales on the Gold Coast. Eighteen yearlings made more than $500,000. They cost a collective $12.4m. Total stake money won by these horses to the beginning of 2019 when they were rising 6yo was $1.22m. Only one horse, Honesty Prevails, ran in the Golden Slipper of 2016 and he finished 5th. If fact you could have purchased the three place getters in the Slipper (Capitalist, Yankee Rose and Flying Artie) for the total sum of $225,000 had you been lucky or should I say incredibly lucky. By the time 2019 arrived the trio had amassed $6.87m between them and were pursuing careers outside the race track.

Where did the buyers go wrong?

Takeover Target : an inexpensive champion

Where did the people who purchased the 18 yearlings go wrong? It is unlikely to have been a conformation issue.  Experts with the evidence of X-rays and experience would have advised against the purchase of any of these expensive yearlings. Negatives would be an opinion that they would not stand a racing preparation.  Apparently had no physical faults that would stop them reaching their full racetrack potential. Yearling prices and racing ability are not necessarily a set of parallel lines.

However, one should also heed the words of John Nerud , legendary trainer of Dr Fager and breeder, owner of Fappiano. “Don’t go to a Stakes paddock to study text book conformation.” Perhaps the purchasers put too much faith in the belief that yearling price is acquainted with racing ability..Perhaps were reliant on a racing x racing analysis and not considering enough of an analysis of a racing x pedigree approach.  I selected seven expensive horses at random from that sale and calculated a PRI score for the results as shown in the following table:

Racing Performance x Pedigree for horses sold @MM 2015 Yearling Sales

Lot PRI Pedigree Sales ($k) Racing Record (to Jan 2019) AEI ($)
240 97.5 Redoute’s Choice-Flavoured 720 6 Starts 1-0-0, $240,373 40
613 82.5 Sepoy-Sister Madly 1200 9 Starts 2-2-1, $45,090 5
645 82.1 Snitzel-Starlevie 775 5 Starts 2-1-0, $50,350 10
678 71.7 Northern Meteor-To Please a Lady 550 7 Starts  0-0-0, $1,600 0.2
637 70.0 Exceed and Excel-Speedy Rossa 800 6 Starts 1-0-0, $19,052 3
666 69.8 Fastnet Rock-Response 1050 5 Starts 2-1-0, $76,250 15
143 65.4 Sepoy- Celebrity Girl 850 8 Starts 2-1-2, $50,670 6

An Analysis

Would I have recommended Lot 240? Definitely yes although he still did not repay his purchase price. What about 613? Probably not, for other reasons, but certainly not at $1.2m; 645 would be worth a go at about $150,000.    All the others fail to reach my criteria for city winners let alone Stakes performers.  Where does this leave us? Probably with a quote from Sherlock Holmes  “It is easy to be wise, after the event”.