More than $818,000 was raised Jan. 4 during the live auction portion of the 24th Annual Select Stallion Season Auction benefiting Thoroughbred Charities of America.
Seasons to 16 select stallions and a lifetime breeding right to Spendthrift Farm's Into Mischief raised more than $793,000 from a spirited crowd of a couple hundred gathered at the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center on the grounds of Keeneland. Bidding on these seasons actually began Jan. 2 during a telephone and online auction session that ran through the morning of Jan. 4. The bidders who placed the top prices online were then invited to continue bidding by phone during the live auction.
Stallions represented at the select auction included Blame , Broken Vow , Congrats , Distorted Humor , Elusive Quality , Justin Phillip , Lonhro, Macho Uno , Malibu Moon , Medaglia d'Oro , More Than Ready , Pioneerof the Nile , Point of Entry , Smart Strike , Speightstown , and Tiznow .
The live auction also offered eight other items including an African safari, a Triple Crown ticket package, and a weekend shopping spree at Tiffany's in Beverly Hill, Calif. The packages and a high-end John Deere riding mower contributed more than $25,000 to the total raised.
"I was thrilled with the results," said Dan Rosenberg, TCA president. "People were giving real money and doing it enthusiastically."
TCA is the charitable arm of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. Ninety-five percent of the money it raises is awarded through grants to organizations running support and education programs for backstretch workers; Thoroughbred rescue, retraining, and adoption; equine research; and therapeutic riding. Since its inception, TCA has awarded nearly $20 million in grants.
This year was the first time breeders could bid online for seasons. Handled by Starquine, Rosenberg said the inaugural online option was popular, with more than 3,000 people registering to participate from about a dozen countries.
"In the past there had been concerns about having the right online platform, being sure it worked and that people were comfortable with it," Rosenberg said. "People are so accustomed to sites like eBay now, it went smoothly and Starquine did a great job."
The total from all the seasons sold through Starquine is expected to be available early next week.
Prior to the live auction, special recognition was given to owners John and Debby Oxley as recipients of the TCA Leadership Award and to the Retired Racehorse Training Project, which was honored with the TCA Industry Service Award.
The Oxleys, who could not attend the auction, were recognized for their longtime support of aftercare programs and backstretch, education and research projects serving the Thoroughbred industry.
In October, the RRTP held its inaugural two-day Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium at Pimlico Race Course. Twenty-six Thoroughbred ex-racehorses and their trainers showcased the breed's versatility through show jumping, pole bending, dressage, vaulting, polo, team penning, and barrel racing.
Accepting the award on behalf of the RRTP was founder and president Steuart Pittman, who said the organization just completed a survey of ex-racehorse owners that captured a lot of success stories.
"They truly are the smartest, most trainable, and most loyal breed of any horse. We just need to market them better," Pittman said.