The second-highest-priced horse sold at this week's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale -- a Chief Seattle
filly purchased on Tuesday for $270,000 by bloodstock agent Buzz Chace -- was bought privately for $29,000 by pinhooker John Brocklebank less than 24 hours earlier and should have been scratched, according to Fasig-Tipton officials.
Brocklebank was also the underbidder on the filly.
"Someone in the office made a mistake," Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's chief operating officer, said Wednesday. "We don't allow pre-sale, private sales. We don't participate in that. Our policy in those cases would be to scratch the horse."
The filly in question originally was consigned by Paul Sutton's Oakleigh Farm, agent for breeder Harvey Clarke. Clarke said he received a call Monday afternoon from an acquaintance, Glenn Brok, who works for Brook Ledge vanning company. Clarke said Brok told him he knew someone who was interested in buying the filly. "I told him, given the way that sale is going, I'm going to put a $19,000 reserve on her, and the guy can bid on her," said Clarke. "He called back and said the guy would like to buy her before the sale. I said in that case the price would be $29,000, and he agreed. I then told Paul (Sutton) to try and scratch her. I'm not sure if Fasig-Tipton wouldn't let him scratch or John Brocklebank wouldn't let him scratch."
Brocklebank said Brok reported the transaction on his behalf to someone in the Fasig-Tipton office. "I said I'd prefer to scratch the filly," Brocklebank said, "but Fasig-Tipton said I'd have to bring her into the ring." Brocklebank told The Blood-Horse
that this was the first time he'd purchased a horse privately on a sale company grounds.
Chace, meanwhile, said he'd looked at the filly both at the barn and in the sale ring. "I had her vetted earlier," said Chace, who said he bought the filly on behalf of a New Jersey client who wished to go unnamed. "I had absolutely no knowledge of who the filly's owner was. I come to buy horses and I buy horses. That's all I'm interested in. I don't get into anyone else's business."
The filly, produced from Kwik as a Wink, a stakes-winning mare by De Niro, is from the fourth crop of foals produced by the Seattle Slew stallion Chief Seattle. His 2006 yearling average, including the $270,000 filly bought by Chace, is $17,320, and his median is $7,000. His 2006 stud fee was $7,500.
"After it sold," Clarke said, "I told Glenn Brok the next time anyone wants to buy a horse from me before the sale, tell them I'm not interested. What happened didn't pass the smell test. This business has too many bad things, and I don't like things that aren't right. I've been doing this for 30 years and I've yet to try and screw anyone out of a nickel. I'm not going to start now."
Wednesday morning, after Fasig-Tipton officials learned The Blood-Horse
had inquired about the transaction, Browning arranged a conference call with Brocklebank, Chace, and Chace's client. "I said I'll take her back or you can keep her, it doesn't matter to me," said Brocklebank, who said his original plan was to pinhook the filly as a 2-year-old. "I voluntarily reduced the price, to give them an option, They decided to keep her for that price."
None of the parties, including Fasig-Tipton, would disclose the negotiated price.
"Buzz was upset," said Brocklebank, who then added, "They said the business should have been kept between me and the consignor, and not let the sale company know. It was a legit, clean deal, just a horse bought before the sale. Probably what should have been done, an announcement should have been made that the ownership had been changed."
An auction Code of Ethics developed by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association's Sales Integrity Program in 2004 addresses private, pre-sale transactions. Article III of the Code of Ethics reads: "In any case in which a horse entered in a sale changes hands after publication of the catalogue, the sale company will make this announcement from the stand prior to the horse being sold."
At Keeneland, director of sales Geoffrey Russell said a previous policy stated that any horse sold privately, to Keeneland's knowledge, be withdrawn. "With the Sales Integrity Program," Russell said, "we can resell that horse as long as an announcement is made from the auction stand that the horse has changed hands (though the name of the owner is not disclosed), and we have had a couple of instances of that."
Browning said Fasig-Tipton's policy is to scratch any horse sold in a pre-sale, private transaction that is brought to the attention of the sale company.