High Prices and Strong Blooodlines Don’t Guarantee Success on the Track

Not too long ago I heard someone say, “…considering the way that horse is bred it should have run better by now.” I immediately thought to myself, “wow, this person hasn’t seen the reports I’ve seen of all the sales toppers that never made it to the track, or has never heard of all the new owners that tried to make a big splash in the industry by buying millions of dollars worth of the best bred horses only to come up with nothing but heart ache 2 or 3 years down the road.” I also started to wonder if any of our Partners were thinking the same way and if they were, how could I track down a few of the reports I’d seen detailing the fact that top class breeding did not ensure success on the racetrack. Unfortunately, I couldn’t track down any of the data or studies I had seen, so, the only thing left to do was to look into it myself.

I started the project by gathering the race records for every horse that sold for more than $500,000 at the Keeneland September sales of 2008, 2009 and 2010. I chose those sales because the horses offered in them are old enough now that their racing careers are complete or nearly complete. There were 157 horses that met our criteria and their sales history and race records are attached. I also thought it would be interesting to compare the data gathered on these expensive, well-bred horses to the Pocket Aces Racing horses that have made at least 1 start. In all actuality, it’s probably not statistically accurate to compare a group of 157 horses to a group of 10 horses, but, as stated above, we were going for interesting not necessarily accurate. I have also attached a summary of the findings; following are a few of the highlights:

  • The Average Purchase Price of the KEESEP $500K+ horses was $771,878.00. 15% of them never raced. Of the horses that did race 45% of them never won. The Average Purchase Price of the PAR horses was $26,800. 100% of them raced and 60% are winners.
  • The Win and Win, Place, Show Percentages for the KEESEP $500K+ and PAR horses are exactly the same 17% and 46% respectively.
  • Incredibly, the percentage of Stakes Winners for PAR was higher (10%) than the Percentage of Stakes Winners for the KEESEP $500K+ horses (9%). The Percentage of Graded Stakes winners for the KEESEP $500K+ horses was significantly higher (6%) than the Percentage of Graded Stakes Winners for PAR (0%). It would appear that if you want a Champion, Classic, Grade 1 winner, etc. you are better off spending $500K+ at KEESEP, but if you want a Stakes Winner, Winner or horse capable of Placing (for $745,078 less on average) you would be just as well off with a PAR horse.
  • The total Purchase Price of the KEESEP $500K+ horses was $121,185,000 and their Total Earnings were $16,599,386, which means they only earned back 14% of their Purchase Price. The total Purchase Price of PAR horses was $268,000 and their Total Earnings are $354,532, which means they have earned back 132% of their Purchase Price.
  • The Average Stud Fee for each KEESEP $500K+ horse was $146,242 with a Median of $125,000. The Average Stud Fee for each PAR horse was $33,500.0 with a Median of $27,500.
  • The Average Starts Made for each KEESEP $500K+ horse was 7.89 with a Median of 6.0. The Average Starts Made for each PAR horse was 7.2 with a Median of 6.5.
  • We hope this data helps illustrate the fact that while purchasing the most expensive, best-bred racing prospects can help your odds of finding a successful racing prospect, and probably greatly increases your odds of getting a very top-class individual, it still provides no guarantee. Only a little more than half the horses by and out of the breeds top performers from this research ever won a race and 91% of them never won a Stakes race.
    All the best,
    Marc A. Wampler
    Racing Manager
    Pocket Aces Racing, LLC
    P.S. While doing this project I also had the idea of pulling the race records of those horses purchased in the $75,000 – $150,000 range to see how they compare the most expensive horses and PAR horses. However, there are far too many of them for just us to do (maybe that’s why it’s the strongest market segment because such a large number o horses fall in that range, the percentage would be interesting though) so if anyone is interested and has a little extra time to do some research let me know and maybe we can bang it out together. Top Price Yearlings Top Price Yearlings vs Pocket Aces Racing