This is a special year for yearling-to-juvenile pinhookers Nick and Jaqui de Meric. It is the 25th anniversary of both the Florida couple’s marriage and the start of their joint career selling horses.
In February of 1983, the de Merics sold their first horse together, a filly named Arctic Moment, who was offered during the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. (OBS) February select sale of 2-year-olds in training.
“She brought $30,000, and we thought that was huge,” Jaqui said. “We bought a car and then we got married in June.”
Arctic Moment went on to win three races, and since the de Merics have sold such talented runners as grade I winners Chaposa Springs, Dream Rush, and Wallenda. In 2006, at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training, the de Merics sold their most expensive horse ever, Belgravia. Irish agent Demi O’Byrne purchased the son of Mr. Greeleyfor $2 million and later the same year the colt scored in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III).
“For me,” Nick said, “the most satisfying thing has been a toss-up between seeing graduates of our program go on and race at the highest level, which is a tremendous thrill, and selling a horse like Belgravia for $2 million. They are almost equally gratifying. And to have a horse like Belgravia go on and do well is doubly gratifying.”
Jaqui offered a different perspective.
“My favorite thing in the whole business is starting the babies (in training),” she said. “I love that. I’m very into that. But I think one of the most satisfying things is seeing our kids doing it now. That’s the most thrilling. We have two -- a daughter, Alexandra, who’s 22 and a son , Tristan, who’s going to be 21. Alexandra is in college, and she’s been doing the sales forever. Tristan just picked it up a year and a half ago and now he’s as gung-ho about selling horses as his father. That’s probably the most exciting thing, seeing our kids get involved.
“One thing that is interesting,” Jaqui added, “is that when we first starting doing this, there were very few couples. And now you look around and everybody is a couple. I think we started a trend. I also think we’re the longest surviving couple in the whole business,” she said with a laugh.
The de Merics don’t have any regrets, according to Nick, about their decision to make a living in the Thoroughbred business.
“I was once quoted as saying that it takes a certain kind of fool to play this game, and we definitely qualify,” he said. “If you’re someone who likes the middle ground, that safe existence, this is not the business for you. But if you can live with the lows and get your thrills from the highs and still keep a modicum of sanity in the process, there is no business like it. The thrill of the good times makes up for the lower moments. It really it does take a certain kind of person to do this, and if you’re that kind of person, there’s no doing anything else after you’ve tried it.”
Nick wouldn’t commit to another 25 years of selling 2-year-olds, but he is hoping his children will carry on the family’s pinhooking ventures for a long time.
“There is another generation coming up, and it would be nice to feel that they can become increasingly involved,” he said. “At that point, maybe there will be an opportunity for us to become a little less involved.”
And when that happens, de Merics will spend a lot more time enjoying their favorite pastime, sailing in the Caribbean, where they have an island home.
The de Merics have more than 30 horses cataloged in their consignment for the OBS March sale on Tuesday and Wednesday in Central Florida. Afterward, they’re heading for the high seas to sail their boat in a regatta.
To commemorate their years in the Thoroughbred business, the de Merics created special baseball hats in three colors: red, brown, and stone. In June, they’ll celebrate their wedding anniversary with a big party in the Caribbean.