Japanese Discussing Holding Select Yearling Sale

The Japan Racing Horse Association, which involves the leading owners and breeders in Japan, is considering starting a yearling auction of well-bred stock in the summer of 2006. The organization's select foal sale, which has been conducted since 1998, might be moved from July to October or November, according to Terry Yoshida of Shadai Farm.

"It's what people want," said Yoshida on Feb. 28 while inspecting horses scheduled to be offered at the March 1 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of 2-year-olds in training. "We feel things are changing."

When the foal auction began, it marked a major change in tradition for the Japanese Thoroughbred business. Until then, nearly all transactions between breeders and owners had been private. The yearling sale would be another big shift because the Japanese now sell most of their young stock, either at auction or privately, as foals.

During last year's select foal auction, Fusao Sekiguchi purchased a Dance in the Dark – Air Groove colt for 490 million yen ($4,537,037), a world record price for a foal or weanling. However, because of the experiences of Japanese buyers in the United States, there is a growing interest among the country's breeders in selling top yearlings. They are attracted by the prospect that, given the extra time to develop, yearlings probably could sell for even more money than foals, according to sources close to and among the Japanese.

The new select yearling auction would be held at the Northern Horse Park on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, where most of the country's breeding farms are located. The select foal sale is conducted at the Horse Park. There is also talk of building new sale barns at the Horse Park in the same style of the barns at Keeneland.