Consignors Work to Improve Image of Auctions

Consignors of 2-year-olds in training banded together in Florida Aug. 24 and formed an organization designed to improve the image of juvenile auctions. In addition, they discussed various issues such as drug testing, the use of whips, and pre-sale workout formats.

During a meeting at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. intertrack wagering facility, the consignors also talked about the funding and implementation of a marketing campaign that would focus on publicizing successful racehorses that have been offered at sales of 2-year-olds in training.

“We came away, all of us, feeling energized,” said Nick de Meric, an Ocala-based bloodstock agent. “Basically, there are issues that need to be addressed, and if we don’t stand up and face them squarely, we are going to lose control of our livelihoods.”

In recent years, there have been increasing complaints that sellers of 2-year-olds push their horses too hard. Horsemen also have expressed growing concern that illegal drugs are being used to keep juveniles sound and enhance their performance at under tack shows.

In early August, it was revealed that OBS, Barretts, Fasig-Tipton, and Keeneland were considering changes in their juvenile sale formats and discussing how to monitor medication use.

“This is not a nit-picking or an adversarial kind of organization; we just want to tell our side of the story,” said Dean De Renzo, a partner in Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds of Ocala. “We want to show how many great horses come out of the 2-year-old sales, how much pride consignors take in their horses, and how hard they work to present the best ones at the sales. We want people to know that we don’t abuse these horses.”

No name was chosen for the new organization, but a steering committee was formed whose members include de Meric, De Renzo, Dr. Barry Eisaman, Carl Bowling, Eddie Woods, Jimmy Gladwell, and Kevin McKathan.

“It’s absolutely not supposed to be just an Ocala or Florida thing, but we had to start somewhere,” De Meric said. “The more people we can bring on board from other areas, the better.”

De Renzo didn’t have an exact count of the meeting’s attendance, but he said 250 printed agendas were distributed. The discussion was moderated by auctioneer Ryan Mahan.

“I talked to some of the people involved beforehand, and their goal is very simple, to try to create a better image and a better atmosphere in which to sell their horses,” said Boyd Browning, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Fasig-Tipton. “I think this is a positive step forward and that we should be supportive.”