EquineCommerce Chief Excecutive Pleased With 'Soft' Launch

EquineCommerce.com quietly opened for business earlier this week, failing to sell any horses or stallion seasons in its first series of listings. However, Barry Weisbord, the Internet company's chief executive officer said, he was pleased with the launch, which was designed to be a "soft" opening without much advertising and fanfare. The first round of sales closed on Dec. 11.

"Would I have liked to have done a trade? Sure," Weisbord said. "But the main thing in the first week was to make sure that the software worked, and it worked. That's why we're happy."

Nine stallion seasons and six broodmares or broodmare prospects were offered for sale on the company's Web site. In addition, there were four listings for people seeking stallion seasons. The most expensive listing was a $500,000 price tag on the Key of Luck mare High Society, who is in foal to Johannesburg. In another listing, someone wanted to purchase a season to A.P. Indy for $325,000.

EquineCommerce.com plans to post listings on a weekly basis.

Weisbord announced plans for EquineCommerce.com on Nov. 7 in Kentucky, saying it would work like a stock exchange, with only members eligible to buy and sell horses. Eighteen of the company's 50 seats were filled as of early December, and "eight people are in the process of getting vetted out," Weisbord said. "I predicted that we would have 30 members within the first three months, and we'll get there."

The equity partners in EquineCommerce.com are Coolmore, Eaton Sales, Keeenland, Lane's End Farm, Taylor Made Farm, Thoroughbred Daily News (which is published by Weisbord), Three Chimneys Farm, and Vinery. The equity partners, with the exception of Keeneland and Thoroughbred Daily News, each have one seat on the exchange. Others holding seats include Darby Dan Bloodstock, Four Star Sales/Walmac, Mike Ryan, Narvick International/Japan, and Tattersalls.

EquineCommerce.com had delayed the start of selling at least a couple of times, first from November to early December, then to the second week of December. Legal issues, according to Weisbord, were the biggest factor in the postponements.

Weisbord's goal is for EquineCommerce.com to be a significant player in the Thoroughbred business by September of 2004.

"The Thoroughbred industry is not a business that adapts to change readily," Weisbord said. "Now that we're up and running, we have to educate people. I think we're in great shape."

In one change, EquineCommerce.com has lowered its requirement that members list no fewer than 100 lots per year on the Web site to 50.

"Some people were nervous about that (the high number)," Weisbord said.