The National Association of 2-Year-Old Consignors (NATC) has backed off its effort, for now, to reduce the number of under tack shows at major juvenile auctions from two to one. But the organization would like to pursue a change in the future because it believes the one-show format would be less stressful mentally and physically for young horses, according to Nick de Meric, the NATC's sale company liaison.
"It's not a dead issue," he said.
In polls conducted by the NATC, a majority of buyers and consignors favored one show. But there was "a small group of individuals, representing significant entities in the business, who felt passionately that the current format (two shows) was the way to go," de Meric said. "Out of respect for them, we decided there should be further discussion before pressing sale companies for a change. We also didn't want to have an acrimonious debate so close to the 2-year-old sales. We're meant to be an organization that unifies people, not fragments them."
There doesn't seem to be much support from sale companies for the one-show format.
Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, said his company needs two under tack shows for its April auction because of Kentucky's rainy spring weather. Racing at the track prevents Keeneland from changing the date of a show to avoid wet conditions.
Even if Keeneland could be more flexible, "I personally wouldn't want to have just one under tack show," Russell said. "To market horses properly, you need to give them the opportunity to perform at an optimum level. I think it's difficult to pinpoint that a horse will be at his best on the first Monday or first Tuesday in April. If consignors wish to work their horses only once, that's acceptable to Keeneland as long as their horses train between the first show and the second on a day-to-day basis as they normally would."
Fasig-Tipton "doesn't anticipate any significant changes, at this point," for its next year's Calder auction in February, according to the company's executive vice president and chief operating officer, Boyd Browning.
"We feel like it (the two-show format) provides the best opportunity for sellers to showcase their product and for buyers to evaluate their prospective purchases properly," he said.
In their talks with buyers and consignors, Fasig-Tipton officials did not find that "an overwhelming majority" favored a one-show format, according to Browning.
Tom Ventura, the OBS general manager and director of sales, said his company had not finalized the plans for next year's February and March auctions as of Nov. 10, but the "odds are" the company will keep the two-show format.
"You want a horse to be able to show it's ability, and you hate for the weather to mess it up," he said. "Also, a horse can improve from the first show to the second."
Barretts president and general manager Jerry McMahon could not be reached for comment.