If the results of the recent Fasig-Tipton Midlantic winter mixed sale are any indication, the Becky Merkel sale consignments are in good hands with the consignor’s daughter and son-in-law Sarah Estrada-Brok and Carlos Estrada.
The young couple officially began handling the Merkel public auction business effective with the sale in Timonium, Md., selling 11 of the 12 horses in their consignment. Transitioning of the consignments from mother, to daughter and son-in-law is a result of a confluence of events, including Merkel’s demands at the Diamond B Farm she operates with her husband, Glen Brok, and birth of the first child for Sarah Estrada-Brok and Carlos Etsrada.
Sarah Estrada-Brok, 28, cut her teeth in the horse industry while growing up at the 100-acre Diamond B near Mohrsville, Pa., and while in high school worked at the racetrack on weekends and during the summers.
After graduation, she then worked for trainer Todd Beattie in Pennsylvania and Kellyn Gorder in Kentucky, including galloping horses.
For the past five years, Estrada-Brok has been an assistant to Patti Miller at EQB, where her duties grew into assisting with the short lists of horses to inspect at sales and evaluating under tack show workouts at 2-year-old sales.
Carlos Estrada, a native of Mexico, began working for the Florida Thoroughbred operation of his brother, Javier, and most recently has assisted Four Star Sales at horse sales, showing horses to potential buyers.
With the birth of Ethan ninth months ago came the realization that they would no longer be able to do the extensive traveling involved with their other jobs, so they are assuming the Merkel sales operation full-time.
While attending the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale, where she was on the prowl for short yearlings to pinhook into later sales, Estrada-Brok explained how her experience has equipped her for the challenge of handling the Merkel sales.
“I learned a lot working with Patti,” Estrada-Brok said of working at EQB. “I trained my eye to what she likes and also discovered my own eye and the kind of horses I would like to pinhook.”
Estrada-Brok has also gained experience assisting with her father’s bloodstock agency, noting that she worked with Glen Brok and Cal Lynch to select recent Withers Stakes (G3) winner El Areeb for MMG Stables.
Just as her parents have, Estrada-Brok will be focusing on yearling sales in Maryland and Kentucky, but with the possibility of consigning to Saratoga auctions when the quality of their horses merit.
The couple will have at least five they have bought for re-sale later this year.
"What we are trying to do is bring horses by Kentucky sires to Maryland, sires that most people like and then try to have the body that is going to appeal to everybody," Estrada-Brok said.
Her experiences at the track and EQB, coupled with her tenure at Four Star Sales equip the couple for a team approach to sales.
“He (Estrada) is great at showing a horse and he has a good concept of running the sale as well,” she said. “He has seen the proper way to run a consignment. They (Four Stars) are a great team and are a good group to model ourselves off of.
“I love to gallop. I love the feeling of sitting on a horse, clipping right along. It’s such a great feeling. But at the same time, being able to select horses of such quality for clients is great.”