I was perusing the entries in the catalogue for the upcoming Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale and the adage “breed the best to the best and hope for the best” came to mind.  The sale is full of blue-blooded yearlings with accomplished sires and dams.

As I looked through the catalogue, I thought about a $26,400 Maiden Special Weight race for fillies and mares at Thistledown on July 18, 2022. One of the entries was a 5-year-old by Tapit and another was a 3-year-old by Into Mischief, whose stud fees are, respectively, $185,000 and $250,000.  The pedigrees say the mare and the filly belong at Saratoga or Del Mar, athleticism says otherwise. (The Tapit mare was auctioned as a yearling for $350,000 at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga and the Into Mischief filly brought $25,000 at Keeneland.)

Another thought pertained to one of the truly great American racehorses of all time, Zenyatta.  Of her five living foals, not one of them has ever won a race, though there is promise that her 2-year-old filly named Zilkha may do so.  Two of Zenyatta’s foals are now hunter/jumper sport horses.

When the auctioneer’s hammer falls on the colts and fillies in the 2022 Saratoga sale, some for 7-figure prices, the new owners will leave with plenty of optimism.  Only a small number of owners will be correct in their assessment. The statistical axiom of regression to the mean is the enemy of buyers of the highest priced yearlings with patrician pedigrees.

Racehorse ownership at the top level appeals to people willing to take a big chance, as many of them did in their personal lives…and, in so doing, accumulated sufficient wealth to gamble on buying a baby racehorse that could win a Grade 1 race or end up as a hunter/jumper. 

Hope springs eternal for high-rolling buyers at Saratoga and Keeneland. The same can be said for bargain-hunters, the Warren Buffett-like buyers in bloodstock markets who look for intrinsic value. Breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best does not preclude a future version of Mine That Bird or Rich Strike from winning the Kentucky Derby.

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