Even though the market for 2-year-olds in training has been tough, Ciaran and Amy Dunne of Florida-based Wavertree Stables have two big reasons to celebrate. Wavetree-consigned horses topped both the Fasig-Tipton Florida select auction and the Barretts March sale.
“We all do this to be around nice horses,” said Ciaran Dunne, a native of Ireland. “Whether you are raising foals or training horses, you want to be associated with the top-end horses. For us, to top Fasig-Tipton and to then top Barretts is probably the pinnacle of what we do, so it’s very exciting. In the same way as when someone wins a race, topping a sale is fun, and it’s how we judge ourselves. It’s very gratifying for everyone who works at Wavertree, because a lot of hard work goes into it from start to finish. It just doesn’t happen when the horses show up at a sale and breeze. There are a lot of guys who put in a lot of time and effort in getting them from September to February or March.”
Wavertree, acting on behalf of Fred and Jane Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm, consigned Cup o’ Joe to the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale, where he brought $1.6 million from Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager John Ferguson. Prior to the auction, the Medaglia d'Oro –Bayou Plans colt worked an eighth of a mile in :10 3/5. He is a half-brother to 2004 Forego Handicap (gr. I) winner Midas Eyes and two other stakes winners: Bayou’s Lassie (gr. IIIT) and Bourbon N Blues.
“He was a pretty neat horse,” Dunne said. “He was just different than your normal run-of-the-mill sale 2-year-old. He was very much bred to go two turns. Fred bred him to be a mile-and-a-quarter horse. So many horses, I think, get bred based on market constraints. They get bred to first-season sires and they get bred for speed. Fred set out to breed a two-turn dirt horse, and he got it right.”
Cup o’ Joe was a $325,000 buy-back at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale.
“Fred sent the horse to the yearling sale and because he was kind of big and awkward and looked like he would need some time, he didn’t get enough love (from the buyers),” Dunne said. “But Fred wasn’t afraid and he persevered. The horse came back to the sales ring as a 2-year-old, and Fred got his money. So, it was kind of neat to see a guy who’s been trying to do the right thing get rewarded for it.”
The Barretts March sale topper for Wavertree was a Tiznow –Hurricane Judy colt, which brought $650,000 from Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables after working an eighth in :10 3/5. A half-brother to stakes winner Ronton, the colt was purchased by a partnership named Edmonton for $200,000 at Keeneland last September. Edmonton’s members were Dunne, Jack Goldthorpe, and Vern Dubinsky.
“Barretts was really nice because that horse was for the home team, and there is nobody we like doing good for more than us,” said Dunne with a smile. “It was great. Vern has had horses with us for quite a while, and Jack has been involved in everything we’ve done since we started. He (the Tiznow colt) was a late foal that was probably a little ‘growthy’ when we bought him last September. Mentally, he might have been a month to six weeks shy of where we needed him to be at for a 2-year-old sale, but the great thing was the buyers were willing to look beyond the :10 3/5 work. They bought what was standing on the end of the shank. Hopefully, in the way that Fred Brei got rewarded for his faith in Cup o’ Joe when buyers didn’t really give him his due as a yearling, John Moynihan (who signed the sale ticket for the Tiznow colt) will get rewarded for thinking outside the box.”
In terms of gross receipts, Wavertree was the leading consignor at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. February auction, selling nine of the 13 2-year-olds it offered for $1,212,000. Wavertree tranked second at the Fasig-Tipton Florida auction, selling three of the eight horses it offered for $2,300,000.
Wavertree was No. 1 again at the Barretts March sale, selling five of the eight head it offered for $1,400,000. And at the OBS March sale, Wavertree ranked 13th, selling four of 10 horses offered for $415,000.
“It’s been a good year in some ways, but it’s been a strange year,” Dunne said. “For a long time, buyers have always said they don’t care how fast the horses go, it’s how they do it. And for the longest time, most consignors have said, ‘That’s a crock.’ But this year, while they’re still buying the horses that go fast, there’s also been a market for the horses that are a notch below that–the ones that don’t work the bullet, but are good moving, athletic horses–and that’s got to be good for everybody. I’ve made a killing this year selling the slower ones.”
In 2006, Wavertree sold the sale-topping horses at the OBS February, OBS March, and Barretts May auctions.