People listening closely to the announcements from the auction stand during the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale heard something new during the auction’s three-day run (Oct. 26-28) in Lexington. For the first time, Fasig-Tipton told prospective buyers when a horse’s stem cells had been collected and stored.
The requests for the announcements came from consignors Kitty Taylor’s Warrendale Sales and Ken and Sarah’s Ramsey’s Ramsey Farms, according to Dan Pride, Fasig-Tipton’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. Umbilical cord stem cells had been collected from 18 yearlings cataloged to the auction soon after their births based on a list that was printed on cards and distributed at the sale by LifeLine Labs. The Central Kentucky-based company had processed the cells and stored them. The cells can be used to treat tendon, ligament, and other injuries, and if the horses ever need the cells for medical reasons, their new owners can gain access to them by paying a fee.
“We thought we would give it a shot,” said Pride of the decision to make the announcements. "It is not our normal practice to announce this type of additional information, but in this day and age, we’ve got to be creative and try anything possible that adds value to a horse. I don’t know how much the buyers have tuned in to it. I haven’t had a buyer comment on it. But I know the sellers were very appreciative.”
The horses with stem cells available included a Kitten's Joy – Cardinalli colt that Ramsey Farm, as agent, sold for $130,000 to Leonard Lavin’s Glen Hill Farm.
Craig Bernick, Glen Hill’s president and chief operating officer, said he wasn’t aware the colt’s stem cells had been harvested and stored until trainer Tom Proctor noticed the information on a bulletin board. The cells’ availability “had no bearing” on the decision to purchase the colt, according to Bernick.
“Maybe they’re something for us (to use) in the future; I’m not sure,” he said.