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Today, Ray Paulick posted an interesting piece  (read it here) on the purchase and racing success of the impressive South American-based juvenile Vamos Pagando, who was rejected after a sale because of a “small chip in a hind ankle.” The underbidder purchased the colt after consulting with his veterinarian, who rightly estimated that the chip would not pose an impediment to training.

This is a similar situation to the one with North America’s leading juvenile colt Lookin at Lucky, who was misjudged in a like circumstance but had owners able to take him on to the juvenile sales, where he sold well and has developed into a multiple G1 winner and probable juvenile champion colt.

Well done to the successful bidders in both instances, who purchased talented and promising young athletes.

But that is all one can purchase at any sale of yearlings or 2-year-olds: talented and promising young athletes.

However, agent-syndicator Barry Irwin, in a stream-of-consciousness diatribe, responded quite negatively to Paulick’s post and reaches out to punish an unlikely whipping boy called the CBA (Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association).

In his comments, Irwin exhibits a tone of umbrage and level of misinformation that is quite surprising for someone with his experience. For instance, in his second paragraph, Irwin declares, “The CBA would like to ban vet reports at yearling and 2yo sales in North America.”

That is simply not true.

I recognize this as a gross misunderstanding by Irwin even before researching the details of the accusation, because I wrote the first two educational booklets published by the CBA on scoping and OCDs. In those works, some of the most eminent veterinarians, researchers, trainers, and horsemen in the country assisted me, and they are quoted at length and acknowledged by name in the publications.

And naturally, having worked so hard to educate buyers, agents, and owners about what we can and cannot learn of a horse’s prospects from scoping and OCDs, the CBA is not at all inclined to get rid of vet reports. That’s where most agents and buyers can check a horse’s status on veterinary issues at a glance, and the CBA is committed to promoting an efficient marketplace that works for everyone.

In fact, after speaking with officers of the CBA, I found they had several meetings over the course of this year with members of the AAEP to encourage standardizing vet reports to make them more useful.

CBA president Mark Taylor said that “in no way would the CBA discourage buyers from doing their due diligence in evaluating horses, but we do encourage all parties to learn more about veterinary issues and recognize that conventional wisdom regarding these issues has been proven wrong.” Informative booklets on these issues can be found here.

Both from the commonplace evidence of the racetrack (Unbridled’s Song, Farda Amiga, Lookin at Lucky, and hundreds of other top horses) and from large scientific studies, horses that were returned or rejected at the sales because of what were believed to be “problems” actually went on to perform at a very high level.

Taylor summarized the situation by saying that “the CBA’s view is that vets, buyers, breeders, consignors and sales companies will all benefit by sharing information. We do not blame vets for the lack of education or understanding that exists among buyers in regard to scope and X-ray issues at the sales. Our long term goal is to have all these stakeholders come together and conduct meaningful research studies related to racing success that will eventually help buyers make more informed decisions. Shining light on the horses which run at very high levels despite imperfections is just the first step toward reaching our long term goal.”