Following Fleet Indian's scheduled start in Saturday's Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, she heads to Keeneland to be offered Monday during the first session of the November breeding stock auction in Lexington. Her owner, Paul Saylor, thinks it's the best plan from a business standpoint even though Fleet Indian is a leading contender for an Eclipse Award.
"I'm not really in the breeding business," said Saylor, who purchased Fleet Indian for $290,000 through Dapple Bloodstock at this year's Keeneland January horses of all ages sale. "I own a couple of mare and want to support (grade I winner) Purge because I still have an interest in him. But, basically, I've spent 20 years in the Thoroughbred business and the first two-thirds of that were pretty damn lean. I thought $3,000 claimers at Ellis Park and Ruidoso and other places were the big time. I was having fun, so I'm not complaining. But if you can take some money off the table you should do it. I'm not Sheikh Mohammed."
Putting Fleet Indian through the sale ring will be an emotional experience, according to Saylor. He was a member of the partnership that raced champion and 2004 Distaff winner Ashado, who was sold at Keeneland last year after she finished third in the Distaff. She brought $9 million, a world record for a Thoroughbred filly or mare sold at public auction.
"I didn't like it at all, not at all," said Saylor of watching Ashado sell. "I was sitting next to my then 16-year-old daughter, who was in tears. The only thing that was appealing to me was that when Ashado was in the ring for almost 10 minutes, she had her ears pricked and was staring down at the audience most of the time, except when the gavel banged. I think it just really showed her class, and I was impressed with that.
"But I didn't enjoy the thought of selling Ashado," Saylor continued, "and I don't enjoy the thought of selling Fleet Indian. But it's the practical thing to do. People say, 'Well, if the check's big enough, how can you not like it?' Well okay, you like the payday. But if you can't get attached to the animals, in my view, you shouldn't be in the business."
Fleet Indian, a 5-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie
, is undefeated in six races this year, and her win streak of eight dates back to last November. Her 2006 efforts include victories in the Beldame (gr. I) and Personal Ensign (gr. I) Stakes. She has earned more than $1.7 million.
"We would have loved to have kept Ashado, and at a certain price, we would have kept her," Saylor said. "At a certain price, I will keep Fleet Indian. But if she sells well, she'll be going to a very classy operation, and it will be good for everybody. Ashado and Fleet Indian both been phenomenal experiences. I never would have imagined that I would have had one right after the other."
Saylor doesn't expect Fleet Indian to shatter Ashado's world mark.
"I think Ashado's record is going to be standing after the November sale, but Fleet Indian will sell well," he said.