Brisk bidding on 22 stallion seasons and assorted getaways and sports packages raised more than $750,000 during the 23rd Annual Select Stallion Season Auction benefiting the Thoroughbred Charities of America.
The Jan. 5 event, held at the Keeneland Entertainment Center, attracted several hundred people wanting to support Thoroughbred charities around the country and perhaps pick up a good deal on a season to a top stallion. Ninety-five percent of the money raised by the TCA is given as grants to industry-related charities involved in aftercare and adoption, equine medical research, child care service and rehabilitation programs for racetrack workers, and therapeutic riding programs, to name a few.
This year’s event got a nice boost by a late stallion season entry, a live foal season to Into Mischief , whose progeny had a red-hot day at the track hours before the auction. Spendthrift Farm’s son of Harlan’s Holiday was represented by two graded stakes winners—Goldencents, who won the grade III Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park, and Vyjack, who won the grade II Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack. Goldencents is owned by University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino’s RAP Racing, W.C. Racing, and Dave Kenney. Vykac is owned by Pick Six Racing.
The season to grade I winner Into Mischief brought a final bid of $19,500, a nice bump over his 2013 stud fee of $10,000. Into Mischief was raced by Spendthrift Farm owner B. Wayne Hughes.
Overall, the stallion season brought bids totaling $727,000. That total will change since some of the seasons had reserve prices. Seasons to the following stallions were available: Arch , Bodemeister , Broken Vow , Congrats , Curlin , Elusive Quality , English Channel , Exchange Rate , First Samurai , Gio Ponti , Harlan's Holiday, Kitten's Joy , Macho Uno , Malibu Moon , Medaglia d'Oro , More Than Ready , Quality Road , Shackleford , Smart Strike , Speightstown , and Super Saver .
Besides the live auction Jan. 5, the TCA also held a telephone auction Jan. 3-4 during which bids were taking on about 173 seasons for stallions standing throughout the country.
A final total for what was raised during the telephone and live auctions is expected early next week.
TCA president Dan Rosenberg said support for the annual action was very strong, with the same number of seasons available during the phone auction and the same number of bidders participating as last year.
"It has been tough over the past four years with the recession and stud fees dropping," Rosenberg said. "But the business is healthier now. We even had a bidder who called in who was on safari, and he called us several times to check on his bids."
Rosenberg also said a greater awareness of the horse industry’s responsibility for aftercare seems to be helping the charity grow.
"For the first 15 to 20 years, our job was to sound the alarm, and I think we succeeded," he said. "The recession also dramatically increased the number of abandoned and unwanted horses, not just Thoroughbreds, and people became more aware of the need than ever before. It is the right thing to do for the horses and for the people who make this industry run."
Prior to the auction, the TCA paid special recognition with a couple of honors.
Frank Stronach, owner/breeder and chairman of The Stronach Group that owns Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park, was given the TCA Leadership Award. He was honored for developing the first in-house retirement program in 2004. The goal of the Adena Springs Retirement program was to match its retired horses with caring owners. The program has placed over 100 Thoroughbreds in new homes. Stronach has also created aftercare programs at Gulfstream and Santa Anita.
The TCA Industry Service Award was given to the Belmont Child Care Association, which was created in 1998 to oversee the construction of a child care center at Belmont Park. With the support of owners, trainers, and the New York Racing Association, Anna House got built in 2002. The center teaches English, arts, cooking skills, computer skills, and more to the children of backstretch workers. The Belmont Child Care Association also helps families negotiate the paperwork and procedures of public schools, offers tutoring programs for older children and assistance with immigration issues.
TCA was founded in 1990 by a small group of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred owners, headed by Herb and Ellen Moelis and the late Mrs. Allaire duPont. It is now the charitable arm of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.