Just past the midpoint of the Keeneland September sale, the economics of the industry look rather bleak. The gross figures, average, and median are continuing to trend down 30 percent or more daily, and people associated with the business at all levels are quite concerned.
It is difficult to overstate the negative effect that the sale is having on the local economy in the Bluegrass and on the turbulent prospects of farms’ adding stallions or projecting stud fee income into the future.
Yet, among the dark clouds, there are some rays of sun.
Dan Dixon of Elkhorn, Neb. (a suburb of Omaha), has been running Thoroughbred racing partnerships for 25 years. During that time, his groups’ claims to fame and success include racing multiple stakes winner Doradoradora (a daughter of Runaway Groom who earned $590,350) and selling Drina, the stakes-winning dam of Spain, when the mare was carrying that champion.
His Ashby Thoroughbreds typically adds one or two partnerships annually, and Dixon reports that “people are scared, not so much about what’s happening at the moment but of the future. And these [horses] are forward-thinking investments. As a result of that consideration, and maybe some other factors, there is also an imbalance in the supply versus demand, and the marketplace is correcting that imbalance.”
When I mentioned that the Dow Jones average had ratcheted upward from its bottom less than six months ago to nearly 10,000, Dixon said, “People will certainly assess that situation as one of overbought versus undersold and the timing of entry into the market. You’d think people would have to feel a lot better about their 401k investments, for instance, with the run-up on the market. As Warren Buffet said, ‘Nobody can time the market. It’s always going up and down.’ Now’s the time to invest.”
On Tuesday afternoon, near the end of Book 4, Dixon began his scenic drive back to Nebraska (and a day’s golfing along the way) while filling out a couple more partnerships to race horses.