Jamie Hill

Jamie Hill

Courtesy McMahon & Hill

MarketWatch: Jamie Hill on Sires, Pinhooking

Podcast with Jamie Hill of McMahon and Hill Bloodstock.

This is a Blood-Horse MarketWatch podcast with bloodstock agent Jamie Hill of McMahon & Hill Bloodstock.

Jamie, can you tell me who the hot sires were this breeding season?

MW: Ian Tapp and Jamie Hill

HILL: Certainly. Take a horse like Super Saver , who had such an amazing start last summer with stakes winners early on, and his share price just skyrocketed. You look at other horses more recently—and I haven't traded a share but I've traded seasons in Twirling Candy  after his March and April results in the 2-year-old sales, and it's remarkable how quickly the market can jump on something when there is success out there—proven success—both financially and on the racetrack.

If a breeder really wants to send a mare to a stallion who is booked full, how do you make that happen?

It really depends on the stallion, but more often than not we know a shareholder—we keep a list of shareholders that we know in every stallion that we can get our hands on—and we'll call the owners of those shares and see if they have used their seasons. In some cases they'll have a mare booked but she's a late-foaling mare, and if we can take them an offer to sell the season either live foal or no guarantee that's a very attractive deal, they'll do it. That's our approach. We try and do the best thing for our clients. If the best thing is for them to breed their mare, we're sure going to take that approach. But if they have a mare that's not acting right and we can bring them a deal that's very attractive, we'll take it to them.

You guys have a pinhooking investment venture called Spruce Lane. Tell me a little bit about the game plan.

Our program is (that) we buy weanlings and sell them as yearlings. Obviously we hope that the (yearling to 2-year-old) pinhookers go after our horses and they have to compete with the end-users, which makes the sale stronger in the end for us. We have developed this program over the last several years, it's grown every year, and it's a group approach—Mike (McMahon) and I and Kelsey (Lupo), who works with us, we'll go out and shortlist horses. We have an overall budget, and in that budget is included expenses to get the investment from the time of purchase through the time of sale. That includes everything from insurance, board, veterinary—everything.

Prior to getting on the sales grounds we mark pedigrees that we think we'd really like to have in our program, and some of them we obviously know will be too expensive, but sometimes they'll fall through the cracks. We go out and we have a very specific type of conformation and physical that we like to buy. We try to buy more colts than fillies. We try to buy early in the sales cycle before the sale really gets it feet under it and people start recognizing that, "Hey, it's going to be tough to buy later on." That's really been our approach over the last couple years. We had the sales topper in (Fasig-Tipton) July last year with a horse we bought for $145,000 that was by Cowboy Cal, a stallion that everyone has hopes for but hadn't proved himself yet. So, we work really hard at it prior to getting on sales grounds, while we're on the sales grounds, and then we get aggressive when we can in the bidding area.

You also buy to race with Bourbon Lane Stable. Compare a "weanling pinhook" type with a "racing prospect" type.

A weanling that you want to pinhook—you want to buy a horse that's very forward. More often than not, with an earlier foaling date—because the worst thing you can do is take a late-maturing foal or yearling to a sale because they'll be dinged for it—it will cost you—unless they just really have a pedigree and are such great movers, they can sometimes overcome it. But you want a very forward horse. But when we're buying to race, we're willing to give a horse more time. If they look like a classic type but they're on a May cover, we don't have to race as 2-year-olds. It is nice when it happens, but there are certain horses that we'll buy thinking, "OK, this is a horse that can get us to the classics," and if they don't make it to the races by the end of their 2-year-old year, we'll be OK. So, it really is a matter of, "What are your goals?" And our goals for Bourbon Lane Stable—for our racing—is to buy at least three horses in every group—we buy yearlings in one partnership and 2-year-olds in the next. And we want to compete in stakes; that is always our goal.