BC3 Pinhookers Taking Global Approach

Will buy and resell horses in this country, Australia, and Asia.

BC3 Thoroughbreds, the yearling-to-juvenile pinhooking venture that is best known for selling grade I winner Brother Derek, has broadened its horizons. Started by Utah horsemen John Brocklebank and Shane Chipman, BC3 has an ambitious plan to buy and resell young horses in this country, Australia, and Asia.

The operation has some new faces: Australians Bill Vlahos and Travis Smith. Vlahos, a psychologist, is BC3’s CEO, and Smith, formerly a financial analyst for Foster's brewing company, is BC3’s general manager of racing. Both Vlahos and Smith first got involved in Thoroughbred racing as owners.

“I met John out in Australia when he was selling horses last year, and we discussed what he had been doing there and in the U.S.,” said Vlahos, who attended the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale with Smith July 20 and 21 in Lexington . “I presented a business plan about us joining forces, and doing it globally. John is an equity holder in the business and Shane is involved as well as our head trainer.”

BC3 bought 30 horses in Australia earlier this year and wants to buy 30 in this country and 30 in Asia. The company spent $522,000 for three yearlings at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale, which Brocklebank missed because of a death in the family. BC3’s total expenditures for horses in 2009 probably will total about $1.5 million, according to Vlahos.

“Currently, at the moment, I’m financing it, and BC3 will own all the horses,” Vlahos said. “The idea is that we will hold about 60% of the business, and there will be 40% of the business out there for prospective investors. We are quite capable of financing it ourselves, so the other 40% is about bringing high profile new people into the business and really getting our message out there. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t really matter to us. It’s more of a business strategy than a financial strategy.”

BC3 will hold a “preview day” at its Sutton Grange property in Australia Aug. 23. Prospective buyers will be able to see the horses based there move on the track and then purchase them for prices determined by the BC3 team, Vlahos said. An auctioneer will be available to take bids if more than one person wants to buy a particular horse. The horses that don’t get sold then will be offered later in the year at sales of 2-year-olds in Australia and New Zealand.

Young horses bought for the Asian market will be offered at Japanese juvenile sales and also will be marketed to owners in Singapore and Hong Kong. The yearlings purchased in America will be resold in 2010 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training and the Barretts March select juvenile auction, Vlahos said. By next year, he would like BC3 to be able to purchase 100 horses apiece in Australia, Asia, and the U.S. to resell.

“The economy is something you have to be mindful about in terms of how heavy you go in numbers (of horses) and what sorts of prices you pay,” Vlahos said. “For us, in Australia, the economy hasn’t been hit as hard as everywhere else in the world. My view is that when you’re turning horses over, you’re buying and selling them in a similar market, and I’m a bit of an optimist about this because of the way the economy has held up in Australia. We might even be buying in a depressed market and selling in a better market. John’s view is that if we get athletic horses, people will buy them from us. We want to be seen as selling a good product, and we want to have a buying base that follows us regardless of where we sell.”

Vlahos said BC3 plans to shop at this year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale and the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling auction. The company’s team might also be active at Keeneland's September yearling auction.

Brocklebank purchased Brother Derek for $150,000 at Keeneland in September of 2004 and BC3 Thoroughbreds (then spelled B.C.3. Thoroughbreds) resold the son of Benchmark for $275,000 at Barretts in March of 2005 to trainer Dan Hendricks, agent for Cecil Peacock. Brother Derek captured five added-money events, including the 2006 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and the 2005 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I).