The following post appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
In the dark days of the bloodstock depression, the volume of buyer interest, even in good young athletes, had dropped so low that I predicted a $1,000 yearling would win a graded stakes. In the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland, All Squared Away proved the point.
The gelded son of prominent young sire Bellamy Road soared into contention over Keeneland’s synthetic surface and ran out a convincing winner by one and a half lengths. By taking home the winner’s share of $120,000, All Squared Away became the first contemporary graded winner sold for the knock-down price, which is the bottom-limit figure the auction companies set to prevent buyers for the killer market from preying on Thoroughbreds in times of hardship.
The concept of the knock-down price worked in getting All Squared Away a place in a racing stable, and the lucky buyer was trainer Peter Miller, who in April 2010 had purchased an unraced 2-year-old in training named Comma to the Top, and that gelded son of Bwana Charlie won the G1 Hollywood Futurity near the end of year.
Contacted at the ongoing Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s April sale of 2-year-olds in training, Miller said that he “picked All Squared Away out of the 2010 Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale” because he was in the market for solid young athletes.
Miller said, “He was a good-looking, correct colt. He had good size and bone, nice balance and athleticism. I was willing to go to $20,000 to $25,000 for him, and when the hammer dropped at $1,000, it scared me. I thought, ‘Does he have cancer?’ or something similar.”
In fact, the colt did not. He was just one of many, nice average young prospects of whom there was supply far in excess of demand. Truly, there was overproduction before the 2007 economic collapse that destroyed so many businesses and put thousands out of work and eventually out of their homes. Not surprisingly amid all that economic chaos, concern for horses dropped to nil.
Had it not been for the foresight of breeders and sales operators like the late John Hettinger who were concerned for the welfare of our bloodstock and young produce, the results from the intervening years could have been even worse.
But a seemingly unimportant thing like a knock-down price kept All Squared Away as a racing prospect, and there was a trainer at the sale to take a chance on him when no one else wanted to. Miller took the colt home, “gelded him, and broke him, and he showed ability from day one,” the trainer recalled.
Although All Squared Away showed ability, he did not immediately ascend into élite company. Miller raced him in the name of his Altamira Racing and the Wire to Wire Racing Inc. of Bob Rodriguez and Joey Correia, placing All Squared Away initially in $40,000 maiden claiming because Miller “knew he could” and still make a profit even if the young horse had been claimed.
After two thirds and a second in maiden claiming company, All Squared Away became a winner on Jan. 22 at Golden Gate, racing past sprint distances for the first time, and that apparently was the principal factor in the gelding’s improvement.
Miller placed All Squared Away against graded stakes horses in three of his last four races, seemingly an insurmountable step up in class for a racer who began against claiming stock, but All Squared Away is prospering from the exposure and has improved with each start. After Miller brought him to Kentucky for the Spiral, the co-owner left his horse with trainer Wesley Ward, “who’s been a friend of mine for years,” Miller said, “because I thought the distance of the Lexington and the surface would suit All Squared Away. He’d been training like a good horse, and I told Wesley what I’d been doing with him.”
An additional reason for Miller to leave All Squared Away in Kentucky was that he had been trying to sell the racer during the three weeks before the Lexington. The partners had priced their horse at $150,000 before his graded stakes victory. Miller said, “Luckily, we didn’t have any takers, but he’s still available, although the price is a lot higher now.”
Now that his value as an athlete is being recognized, All Squared Away is no longer surplus to demand, and as he has grown – now standing 16.1 – the appreciation for his talent has increased likewise.
The big, brown gelding is the first foal of his dam, the unraced Posse mare Squared, and he is the first stakes winner out of a Posse mare. Squared, bred by the Lavin family’s Longfield Farm, descends from the fine old broodmare Matriculation, and this is the family of Bachelor Beau, who achieved his high point of fame with a victory in the Blue Grass Stakes in 1986.