Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yearling Sales & Six Audiences & the Trotting Classic

Leg one of the Canadian Classic yearling sale is complete and the numbers were poor. Last year the average for the two days was just over $14,000. This year we're stuck at about $8,200, with one day to go.

Despite the downturn, there were some glimmers of hope.

The Classic, or Open (or whatever we're calling it now) is a sale that does not have the cream of the crop normally. With slots being pulled from Ontario, the low end of the spectrum will be hit the most savagely. This appeared to occur. However, quality horse's still sold at not a great price, but not as bad as one may think.

As well, it's important to know that we're dealing with a sale who has the averages bounced around all over the place. In the last four years this sale has averaged between $8,000 to $16,000 with slots. It all depends on what good horses are being offered. As David Menary put it, who bought the $90k session topper, he 'didn't see a lot of quality'. Last year there were some regally bred Camlucks (one who went for $180k) and a couple of Kadabra's that really brought people out and upped the averages.

What will today bring? There are a couple of decent horses offered, so we'll see. But at this early stage - and even if you look at the lower numbers - there are some glimmers of hope that breeders will get a little bit of cash for their well bred colts and fillies.

Make no mistake though - not knowing what Gold Series or even grassroots will go for next year - things are really poor in Ontario.


Seth Godin today looks at business and its "Six Audiences"

He says "you get what you focus on" and he's probably right. Places like Amazon and Walmart focus on sales. That is all they do. This goes for government as well as business. With teachers' strikes and the like government has to focus on labor strife, and this takes away from core education.  Everything is about choices.

The six core audiences Godin talks about are:
  • The sales force
  • the stock market
  • potential new customers
  • existing customers
  • employees or
  • the regulators.
 I submit horse racing can't focus on anything and conquer that group. We don't have a sales force, and even if we did, what are we selling? New customers? We don't do that very well, because our new customers are gained via price changes (like going after poker players with lower rakes etc). Existing customers? I guess we do focus on those, but we have not done a great job. Employees? We probably do focus on those. If the vendor is an employee this is horse ownership. The TOC runs racing in California, so they're surely focused on. The regulators? Yep, we focus on those it seems. Raceday drugs are looking to appease people like Whitfield.

In the end we are what we focus on, and right now we want to focus on everyone. It's probably a big reason why we're in the spot we're in with falling handles, and lower attendance.

Last evening Woodbine hosted what probably will be its last big card with the Peaceful Way, CTC and Wellwood. Over $2M in purses were handed out for the second time in three weeks. With kids back in school, weather returning to normal levels, and a post-Labor Day buzz fading, the attendance did not look overly large. It's like this every year. Putting races on at Mohawk after Labor Day does not have the same feel.

In the Classic, Market Share (perhaps the worst 3-5 chalk I have seen in a long time) tripped out to grab all the marbles in 52. This crop is primarily a trip crop, with no dominant horse. Market Share seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

If you read the blog you'd know we've been waiting for some time for Takter to take a shot with Guccio. You just can't win races from fourth over in racing anymore, and we know he has some gate speed. That he did last night, and he almost got the job done, losing by a half a length.

Those were the only fireworks in the race, because it was a line-up affair, and the half would've been walked even more slowly (it was only 55.4) with Prestidigtator probably clogging up the flow.

We saw that in the Wellwood, with a 57.2 half and a 127.2 three quarters. It looked like a maiden race. 

All in all it was a very non-descript evening, but it tends to be that way with trotters.

This week: Little Brown Jug week is upon us. Only 14 horses have been entered, but there are some potential matchups for fans to get excited about. We'll look at it this week.


Eric Poteck said...

I wonder if the Sales prices are about the loss of slots or an indictment on the quality of Ontario breeding?? It would appear the past 14 years of Slots has not improved the quality of Ontario's breeding.
Curious as to your thoughts??

Last nights handle at Mohawk was terrible. Extra large purses did not bump up handle in any significant way. It will be interesting to see what effect today's large purse card at Woodbine will have on handle.

Christine said...

So is it a lack of quality horses that decrease a sale average? Or poor economic times or increasing horse keeping costs??

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