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Letter from the President - February

February 01, 2008 · By · Share

Greetings:

February is a busy time for me.  With the auction season upon us and the stable running in high gear, this month will be a whirlwind.  I head to Gulfstream Park on Saturday to watch Wincat run in the Swale Stakes(G2).  Wincat is one of our six Triple Crown nominees, and I am anxious to see him step up into stakes company.

I look for Wincat to continue the early success the stable has had this year.  January was highlighted by El Gato Malo's win in the San Rafael(G3).  He placed us at the head of the class for this year's Kentucky Derby.  Two years ago we were on the same path with Flashy Bull, but this time is different.  This is the type of horse that won't just make us "happy to be there" on the first Saturday in May.  Rather, he's the type of horse that the rest of the field worries about.

Our veteran stars also get back onto the track with Awesome Gem and Lear's Princess making their first starts since the Breeders' Cup.  We set an extremely high bar with our performance last year.  It was the best year any partnership group has ever enjoyed, and our goal is to set a new standard this year.

Our past performance speaks for itself, but our future successes begin in the auction ring.  Recently, someone asked me why our stable continues to improve year in and year out.  It's a fair question.  Here's why:

  • We've kept buying.  We learn from our mistakes, and we continually refine the process.  Fear breeds failure.  We are not gun shy, and we buy horses with the goal of winning races.
  • We work exceptionally hard.  Some buyers think they can fly in a day or two before the sale, look at a few breeze videos, vet a few horses, and buy successfully.  We don't subscribe to that philosophy.  We are on the ground two weeks before the sale.  We watch the horses warm up on the track and cool out at the barn.  We look at every minute detail - especially what's not on the surface.
  • We allocate more resources to choosing horses.  This includes going the extra mile in terms of vetting horses.  We have a world renowned vet working almost exclusively for us as a consultant, and this allows us to find the soundest athletes possible.  We reduce our risk and it pays off.
  • We're connected.  We know all the players at the sales.  From the consigners to the stable hands, we've got our finger on the pulse of the stable area. This helps us uncover gems and avoid traps.
  • We're skeptical.  The pinhookers do a great job prepping their horses for the sales.  Their livelihood is contingent upon having their horses trained to the minute.  Some horses look like the second coming of Secretariat a la the Green Monkey.  You can't fall into that trap.  We pride ourselves on looking below the surface and getting to the substance of a horse.

My friends down at the Ocala Sales & Breeders' Company sent me an interesting statistic.  In the past three years, over 3,000 two-year-olds have sold at their auctions.  Of those 3,000 horses, 11 won grade one races.  Of those 11, West Point Thoroughbreds purchased 4 and pinhooked 2.  I'd say that's sound evidence that our hard work, institutional knowledge and experience is starting to pay off.

Finally, I would like to welcome Tom Bellhouse to the West Point Thoroughbreds family.  Tom joins us as the Executive Vice President of East Coast Operations.  Our company's infrastructure is second to none, and I look forward to Tom helping take us to the next level of excellence.  Tom will be a wonderful addition to the team, and I look forward to working with him.

Until next month...

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