For many horse racing fans and handicappers the world of thoroughbred breeding is a murky land of wealthy owners, eccentric breeders, and great sires and dams. Most of the information about this starting point of horse racing comes from the short articles in the form and newsletters they receive or the tear jerking human interest stories we get once a year from the major networks who carry the Triple Crown races.
The truth of the matter is that horse breeding and racing is a business and as such, it is done for profit. The people who control the business, or at least steer it, are the ones who pay big money for stud fees and who buy the weanlings and yearlings. While the horseplayers support the racing industry with their bets, wealthy owners support the industry with their fees. For many owners, race horse ownership is an expensive hobby that doesn’t pay for itself. The money they spend every year helps the breeders to know how to plan their own breeding programs.
Sometimes the breeder makes a great move and spots a fantastic foal that he or she keeps for his or her own racing interests. But often the breeder will spot a standout foal and still let it go to auction. The reasoning is that the foal will boost the stallion’s prestige and in turn his stud fees. It is good luck to have a foal go on to win a grade 1 race because that is the most prestigious mark of a great sire.
When Da’Tara won the Belmont, many people wondered if the breeders, WinStar Farm’s Bill Casner and Ken Troutt, who had sold the colt for $100,000 regretted letting the grade 1 winner go. Of course it would have been fun to stand in the winner’s circle at Belmont Park as the owners of the Tiznow colt that wired the field at 38-1, but the owners understand that breeding is a business and in order to promote Tiznow as a stallion, the foals must make it to the sales ring. That is good business for their farm and good for the industry.
While some people may think it unlucky that they also sold Da’Tara’s dam before her offspring won the final leg of the Triple Crown, the owners philosophically point out that they also sold Funny Cide and he went on to win the Kentucky Derby. Selling horses is what they do and that is the thoroughbred breeding business. The luck isn’t in whether or not you sell a great horse, its whether or not your stallions produce great horses for you to sell. As for the stallion Tiznow, it appears he is their lucky charm and he is still in their barn.