One day after the one and only under tack show for the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training was held at Calder Race Course Feb. 22, the sale company's president, Walt Robertson, and most consignors were happy with the new format.
Fasig-Tipton cut the number of shows from the usual two for this year, and conditions were nearly ideal as horses got their only shot to show buyers how fast they could run. The weather was partly cloudy and warm, with a light wind, and the times were fast. One horse went an eighth of a mile in :9 4/5 while more than 10 cover the distance in :10.
"I feel good about one breeze show for one simple reason: It's good for the horse," said Robertson Feb. 23.
According to seller David Scanlon, the new format was beneficial to both the horses and the buyers. The show took place four days before this year's sale, scheduled for Feb. 26, and most buyers will be remaining in South Florida until the auction. In the past, many shoppers would leave South Florida between the two breeze shows or just attend the final show, which was two days before the sale.
"I think it gives people a chance to come here and see the breeze show, and then they've got time to get their work done without leaving and having to come back for a second breeze show," he said. "It’s good for the horses and I think it’s good for the buyers as far as the time constraints are concerned."
Even though consignor Tony Bowling had a Smart Strike filly that worked slowly and won't get a chance to redeem herself, he still remained a fan of the one-show format because buyers won't expect his horses to go back to the track again during the short period of time before the auction.
"I like one show because after the horses work we don't have to train them again," Bowling said. "In the past, we asked them for everything they had and even if they didn’t go back and breeze again, we still had to keep training them throughout the week (between the two shows) because people wanted to see them and that was hard on them. This way, our horses don’t have to go out again and they'll be better physically when we sell them and the buyers are going to get them in better shape."
Seller Hoby Kight also thinks one under tack show is enough because, he explained, "if the buyers don’t like the horses when you work them the first time, they usually still don't like them if you work them again. The only way two breeze shows helps is if you've got a horse that is sick and you miss the first one and you've got another week for the horse to get better before the second."
Consignor Niall Brennan wouldn't mind if Fasig-Tipton sticks with the one-show format in the future, but he also wouldn't be disappointed if the sale company decided to go back to offering two shows.
"I'm easy either way, one breeze show or two; I'm very happy whichever way Fasig-Tipton wants to go," Brennan said. "But I would make comment that I'm happier having to being down here for less time when there is one breeze show instead of two. I think anyone would agree, the longer you are down here, the harder it is on the horses because you’re showing them all day on the 'hardtop' (the asphalt and concrete surfaces on Calder's backstretch), and they're walking back and forth to the track on the 'hardtop.' Less time is better in the case of Calder."
Seller Don Graham was happy with this year's under tack show after five of his horses each worked an eighth in :10 and if there is only one show at future Fasig-Tipton Calder sales, he wouldn’t be upset because "usually my horses are ready for the first show, anyhow." However, Graham would like to see a return to the two-show format with a slight modification from the old system that allowed consignors to work a horse in both shows. Under Graham's proposal, each horse could participate in only one show.
"Consignors would have to pick one show or the other," he said. "That would be my preference, because you would have another option if you had a horse with a fever or that was a little colicky and had to miss the first show."
"I always wanted the format to have two under tack shows, but make consignors pick one or and just pick one or the other. That would be my preference. If you had a horse with a temperature or that a little colicky. But I'm ready usually the first time, anyhow. I'm very happy.
The change to one under tack show might not be permanent. Terence Collier, Fasig-Tipton's director of marketing, said the sale company would have to see how having only one under tack show affected this year's auction before deciding how many shows would be held before future editions of the sale.