One of the biggest events of the 2011 Thoroughbred auction season will be the complete dispersal of stock owned by the late Edward P. “Ned” Evans. Lane’s End will consign the more than 200 horses, which will be divided between Keeneland’s September yearling and November breeding stock sales in Lexington.
Keeneland recently released a special catalog for the dispersal, which will offer grade I winners such as Buster's Ready, Cat Moves, Christmas Kid, Malibu Prayer, Raging Fever, and Summer Colony. A group of prominent buyers received leather-bound copies of the book.
“For us, there are a lot of mixed emotions; we worked with Ned for many years,” said Lane’s End’s Bill Farish. “While it’s an enormously impressive catalog of horses, seeing an operation like this disbanded is sad. Ned experienced so much success and unlike with some dispersals, things are really peaking right now as the horses are about to be sold. There is so much going on in those pedigrees that makes the dispersal very enticing to buyers. You can’t help but pick up that catalog and think, ‘What can I get out of there?’ ”
Evans, who died late last year, owned Spring Hill Farm in Virginia. A member of The Jockey Club, he bred more than 200 stakes winners. He was recognized by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association as Virginia’s Breeder of the Year 10 times, most recently in 2010, and he was TOBA’s National Breeder of the Year in 2009.
“You could talk for hours about Ned Evans,” Farish said. “He was a fascinating guy and he looked at things differently from most people. He had real beliefs about how successful breeders achieved success.
“For example, he believed in numbers,” Farish continued. “A lot of breeders think that having 40 really high quality broodmares is the way to go, but he, on the other hand, thought a broodmare band should be much larger than that. He didn’t think you could necessarily predict where the next good horse was going to come from. At one point he had more than 100 mares.”
But when it came to breeding those mares, Evans was careful about how much he spent, according to Farish.
“He would not, in his view, overpay for stud fees,” Farish said. “He wouldn’t reach up for a lot of the Storm Cats at $500,000 and the A.P. Indys at $300,000. He did a few select foals shares at that level, but he did not routinely stretch for those stud fees. One of the very interesting things about his program is that the recent (sharp) decline in stud fees played right into someone like Ned Evans’ hands. As stud fees came down, the quality of what he was breeding was able to go up. It’s showing in the results all over the place right now.”
Evans bred 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam and he bred and raced four-time grade I winner Quality Road , who won’t be offered in the dispersal, but will continue to stand at Lane’s End Farm.
“Ned sold successfully as well as raced successfully, which a lot of people don’t think you can do,” Farish said. “He sold to take care of some of the expenses (of his farm) and he had a track record of not just selling culls; he sold Saint Liam.”
Farish described Evans as an intellectual, but added that the Spring Hill owner also tried to keep things simple when his horses were involved.
“He kind of laughed at people who tried to make it (breeding Thoroughbreds) too complex,” Farish said. “When you gave him your 20 cents worth, he would take the nickel out of that that was worth anything. He just had a way of reducing things down to a level that made the most sense. It’s really too bad that he died when he did and didn’t have 10 more years. His operation was really starting to explode.”