Like dozens of other buyers standing in the back walking ring at the Keeneland sale pavilion, Joaquin Galdos and his father, Alfredo, have been active at the January horses of all ages sale, shopping for bloodstock to add to their racing and breeding operation in Peru.
But while Alfredo is a horseman, operating Haras Los Azahares near Lima, his 22-year-old son is a professional bullfighter in Spain who has a passion for horses.
Galdos said it was a natural fit for him to become a bullfighter, following in the footsteps of his father, who was also a matador. After taking college entrance exams, Joaquin decided to pursue the sport. Six years ago he relocated to Spain, which has a rich and storied bullfighting tradition.
"I was born into the world of bullfighting," he said. "My grandfather raised bulls and my father was a bullfighter. I used to watch my father fighting and I was raised understanding that culture, that tradition. I understand some people don't like bullfighting, but it's because they are not used to it and don't understand it."
Although bullfighting is dangerous, Galdos said those who engage in the sport do so with full knowledge of the risks and eschew any protective equipment. His most serious injury was to the head several years ago.
"I assume the risk because I love it," Galdos said. "I think I made the best decision in my life. I am completely focused on bullfighting and the training to bullfight. I have no fear of death. I will risk my life for bullfighting."
While he had been around horses at his father's farm, Joaquin said his income has permitted him to invest in his own horses.
"Now that I have my own money from bullfighting, I want to spend it on my passion, which is the horses," he said.
Four years ago during breaks, Joaquin began accompanying his father to sales in the U.S., and at the 2017 January auction bought his first yearlings. Upon his return to Peru, Galdos sold enough of the young horses to pay for those he kept to race—a business model he is pursuing this year at Keeneland and at the Ocala Breeders' Sales' winter mixed sale.
"I like the January sales because I can buy yearlings to take back to Peru," he explained. "When I'm here I look for some for me and some I can sell. If I buy eight, I will sell five for a higher price and I can keep some for me because they are paid for."
For three or four months of the year, Galdos spends time at his family's farm and also participates in some bullfights in Peru.
Galdos said American pedigrees abound in the bloodstock breeding and racing programs in Peru, and that the best horses racing in the country have U.S. lineages.
Last year, multiple grade 2 winner Badge of Silver moved to Alfredo Galdos' farm and has proven popular at stud. "He's a star in Peru," Joaquin said of the son of Silver Deputy.