Sam-Son Farm, one of Canada’s most successful Thoroughbred breeding and racing operations, will have a consignment at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling auction, Aug. 10 and 11, in New York. The five horses cataloged include an A.P. Indy colt that is a full brother to Canadian champion Catch the Thrill and a Giant's Causeway filly that is from the family of Eclipse Award winner and Canadian Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner Dance Smartly.
“We have never sold horses at the yearling stage commercially, so this is a first for us,” said Dave Whitford, who manages Sam-Son’s breeding operation in Ontario. “We’re trying to diversify a little bit, and we’re trying to control the numbers in our racing stable. We had some yearlings that were marketable, and we just wanted to experiment with it basically to see if it would work for us. Obviously, we’re hoping to raise some cash doing it.”
Fasig-Tipton officials helped the Sam-Son staff choose the yearlings that will be offered at Saratoga, according to Whitford.
“They came and inspected our yearlings and recommended these horses,” Whitford said. “We’re trying to be objective, and we’re not too worried about selling our best ones. We want to sell racehorses that somebody can be successful with. Our philosophy is that if we let the next Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner get away, we will still have the family.”
Even though the world isn’t in the best shape economically and prices for horses have been falling, Whitford believes the Sam-Son yearlings will be well-received at the Saratoga sale.
“It is a tough time, but, of course, it’s a tough time for any business,” Whitford said. “We want to improve our bottom line, and by selling some yearlings, we hope we are going to be able to accomplish that. We may not be selling n the best market, but we have pedigrees that typically aren’t on the market, especially in the yearling market, and we’re hoping that will help us out an awful lot.”
Sam-Son is offering yearlings only in the Saratoga auction this year.
“It’s a boutique sale, Fasig-Tipton is promoting it very strongly, and we have a boutique consignment,” Whitford said. “We just feel like it (the Saratoga auction) suits our needs at the present moment. We think we can make a splash in that market.”
Selling Sam-Son yearlings in the future will depend on “(A) how things go at the racetrack and (B) how things go in the market as to how we will move forward year to year,” Whitford said. “It’s just an option we would like to keep in our arsenal that we can do every year or as necessary. Our goal is to have 25 horses in training. Previously, our numbers have been closer to 35 or 40. Our philosophy is still to have a broodmare band of 25.”
The late Ernie and Elizabeth Samuel founded Sam-Son Farm. One of their children, Tammy Samuel-Balaz, was serving as Sam-Son’s president and general manager when she died in January 2008. Her husband, Rick Balaz, and her brother and sister, Mark and Kim, are continuing to operate Sam-Son.
“Rick Balaz is the one who is really guiding us from the farm’s perspective,” Whitford said.
Sam-Son won an Eclipse Award as North America’s outstanding owner in 1991. Ernie Samuel and Sam-Son Farm have received Sovereign Awards as Canada’s outstanding owner nine times and as Canada’s outstanding breeders seven times.