There’s an entire cottage industry in the breeding business for relatives of Triple Crown hopefuls. This is the time of year that speculators can get premium prices for dams or half-sisters or half-sisters to the dams of Triple Crown contenders and filly classic hopefuls, when Derby and Oaks fever attacks the senses with the ferocity of pollen in the spring.
Whenever someone gets a call from someone else out of the blue inquiring about so and so, the radar usually goes off no matter how smooth the caller is. “I hear you have a daughter of so and so stallion,” the coy caller usually goes, “and I’m looking for one of those.” Uh huh, you don’t say, you say, rolling your eyeballs, and then you either do some research or call someone who follows pedigree—like me, for instance.
“Sid, can you check this mare out,” a breeder said today.”Got a call from a fella wanting to buy her. I think something might be up.” Bingo, his suspicions proved true. The mare, whom the breeder had bought for less than $15,000 a few years ago, was now the dam of a very recent Grade 1-placed Triple Crown contender and was worth much more dough.
“[So and So] from [so and so] farm called wanting to buy her,” the breeder, an elderly gent who’s nobody’s fool said. He put his secretary, a very sharp Girl Friday, on the line to give me the spelling of the caller’s name. Turned out the caller knew about the mare because he’d consigned her to the sale when she’d sold cheaply, I found out, by doing a bit of quick research.
“Yep, that’s about what I figured,” the breeder said. “I got a price in mind”—a fair price based on recent developments but one that nevertheless would be a windfall profit for the breeder—“and that’s what he can have her for,” he said. And so the negotiating two-step would begin.
This song and dance between so and so’s takes place all the time during the spring and is as part of the breeding industry as the breeding shed. And sometimes what takes place in the shed isn’t dissimilar from this spring ritual, either.