Originally published in the Oct. 2 edition of Blood-Horse Daily. To download the Blood-Horse Daily smartphone app or to receive the edition in your inbox each evening, visit BloodHorse.com/Daily.
Today's MarketWatch interview is with bloodstock agent Emmanuel de Seroux, who brokered the deal for Don Alberto Corp. and Gainesway to purchase Empire Maker from the Japan Bloodstock Breeders' Association. Five years ago de Seroux represented the JBBA in purchasing Empire Maker from Juddmonte Farms.
Blood-Horse Daily: What has been your experience working with the JBBA on the two Empire Maker deals?
De Seroux: It's kind of a full circle. Both times when Empire Maker has been sold, he was not supposed to be buyable. He was never "for sale" by either party, so it makes a very interesting story.
The JBBA is a breeders' association, so they are in the business of helping breeders get access to good stallions, so it's not the same economics. For the American farms we look at (the business) in terms of investment and return on the investment. But the JBBA is more of a service company, in a way.
BHD: What events led up to the latest purchase of Empire Maker?
De Seroux: The JBBA had been approached by various farms to purchase the horse and always said he was not on the market. But the more they received requests and offers, they decided they didn't want to conduct a Dutch auction. They went back to the people that made offers and said, "Put your best offer forward, and then we will decide if the best offer is something we want to consider." They set a deadline of Sept. 5, and at that time they would consider the best offer.
Don Alberto and Gainesway was the group with the best offer, and the JBBA decided that they would accept it.
BHD: What was Don Alberto's strategy for acquiring Empire Maker?
De Seroux: Don Alberto had tried to lease Empire Maker to Chile for the last three years, and they had been in touch with the JBBA hoping to shuttle the horse. But the JBBA was not receptive to that idea, so it came to a point that they thought the best strategy may be to purchase the horse instead of leasing him.
Carlos Heller, the principal of Don Alberto, contacted Antony Beck himself. Don Alberto has a lot of nice mares and a very nice farm, but at the moment they are not set up to stand stallions in Kentucky yet. Maybe that will be something coming up in the future, but I can't speak for them on that aspect.
After being the best farm in Chile for years, Don Alberto is trying to establish the best farm they can (in Kentucky) and have access to the best stallions. They purchased a very nice farm in Kentucky three years ago, and they have purchased a lot of very good mares, so acquiring Empire Maker made a lot of sense for their business plan.
The fact that Don Alberto came into Kentucky only in the last three years and has made such a significant move to bring the stallion back to Kentucky speaks volumes about their goal and that they're very serious about the whole business.