The animal-rights group PETA is pushing for reform at 2-year-olds in training sales.

The animal-rights group PETA is pushing for reform at 2-year-olds in training sales.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Do Juvenile Sale Work Surfaces Matter?

(Edited DataTrack International press release)

DataTrack International, a company that that quantifies speed, stride length, and motion analysis at juvenile auctions, recently announced the results of a study of sale 2-year-olds that looked at the types of surfaces over which the horses were breezed during under tack shows and then followed how they performed in races over synthetic and dirt tracks. DataTrack principles Bob Fierro and Jay Kilgore, who compiled the statistics, concluded that there was virtually no difference in the winning rates on any surface for horses that worked prior to an auction on either a dirt or a synthetic track.

The study focused on Thoroughbreds offered during the 2008 editions Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. February select auction and the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale. Juveniles in the OBS sale breezed on a synthetic surface, and 2-year-olds in the Fasig-Tipton sale worked on Calder Race Course’s dirt track.

The study followed the 2008 (2-year-old) racing careers of horses that breezed at least once at each of the sales, regardless of whether the horse was sold. Two categories were established for each sale: All starters that did not earn black type in 2008, and all starters that earned black type.  The reason was to see if quality affected success rates. 

The study found that horses that breezed on either type of track won races or earned black type at the same basic frequencies on all racetrack surfaces.  The results are consistent despite the fact that the OBS sale had fewer horses, and therefore fewer starters, than the Fasig-Tipton sale.

Of the horses that did not earn black type, 17 of 66 (30%) of the OBS auction graduates started at least once on a synthetic track and 35% of them won. Of the 14 of 83 Fasig-Tipton sale graduates that made at least one start on a synthetic surface, five of them won (36%).

The research conducted on horses that earned black type was on a start-by-start basis—10 from the OBS auction made 53 total starts and 13 from the Fasig-Tipton sale made 38 total starts.  All 10 OBS graduates won. Three of the 13 from the Fasig-Tipton auction earned black type as maidens and did not win in 2008.

The study showed that 42% of the OBS sale starters and 36% of the Fasig-Tipton auction graduates won on synthetic surfaces while 15% of the OBS starters and 33% of the Fasig-Tipton starters won on the dirt. Results of stakes race success were inconclusive, but several horses from both sales earned black type on both surfaces.