Kirkwood Galloping into Gulfstream Sale

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Kip Elser | Horsephotos

By Jessica Martini

When the five horses consigned by Kirkwood Stables as agent for Gulfstream Gallop LLC take to the Hallandale track next Monday for the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale’s under tack show, Kirkwood’s Kip Elser hopes the focus of prospective buyers is on the juveniles themselves and not on the clock. The group was purchased last fall with the intention of reselling at the Gulfstream sale, but they will eschew the traditional one or two-furlong all-out blitz Monday and instead gallop down the Gulfstream stretch.

Elser purchased two fillies and two colts at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Sale and an additional colt at the Fasig-Tipton October Sale on behalf of a longtime client with an old-school idea.

“I ran into an old friend and client at Saratoga who I hadn’t had horses for in a while and we were talking about this and that at the races,” Elser explained Tuesday. “He called me a couple of days later and he said, ‘What about this? I think maybe it’s time that we went back to the old way of doing things. Let’s see how it works.’ So we went and bought this group of yearlings in the name of Gulfstream Gallop. They were never going to breeze. It was always going to be for this venture.”

The most expensive yearling purchase in the group is a son of Exchange Rate (hip 88) who is out of Cayman Sunrise (Petionville), a full-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Sailors Sunset. The dark bay was purchased for $60,000 at the Turf Showcase.

On behalf of the unnamed client, Elser paid $30,000 at the Turf sale for daughters of Data Link (hip 26) and Blame (hip 137) and $27,000 for a colt by Noble Mission (GB) (hip 2). At the October sale, he signed the ticket at $7,000 for a son of Liaison (hip 136).

Elser said, despite the decision not to breeze the 2-year-olds, he did not change his approach to buying yearling.

“I didn’t do anything different,” he said. “I just looked for horses that I liked and I would have bought at any time to sell as 2-year-olds. I did not buy horses that looked any different. We just didn’t start the breezing process. There are a lot of people out there that say, ‘We wish these horses didn’t have to go so fast to get sold.’ Or people will say, ‘I can pick out a horse just off of a good strong gallop.’ We always used to pick them out that way anyway.”

The Kirkwood consignment had its first gallop at Gulfstream Sunday and it’s so far, so good for the group.

“They galloped very nicely on Sunday and Monday,” Elser said. “Today is Tuesday, Kate [Stolyar] told me from down there, they had a good morning this morning.”

While still several days out from the under-tack show, Elser has already received well-wishers as participants in the juvenile auction scene get ready to observe if a less speed-based program can still produce a successful result in the sales ring.

“I think there is some degree of puzzlement, but I’ve gotten no negative reactions,” Elser said. “I’ve gotten quite a few people wishing us luck. If this goes well, I think it will be easier on horses, buyers, sellers everybody. We can take half a step back. I believe we can present these horses fairly and give people all the information they really need to make a decision without going down there as fast as they can go.”

The Kirkwood contingent won’t be the first group of Gulfstream sales prospects to gallop at the under tack show. At the auction’s first two renewals in Hallandale, Adena Springs offered juveniles who galloped into the sale. In 2015, the Stronach operation sold 39 horses for $2,353,500 and an average of $60,346. The Adena graduates of that sale include multiple graded stakes winner Shakhimat (Lonhro {Aus}), a $60,000 purchase who now has earnings over $400,000; as well as multiple stakes winner Winter (Awesome Again), who sold for $95,000. Also in that class were graded stakes-placed Born to Be a Winner (Einstein {Brz}) and Scholar Athlete (Einstein {Brz}).

In 2016, Adena sold four horses for $425,000 and an average of $106,250. Included in that group was graded stakes-placed Jamyson ‘n Ginger (Bernardini).

“If we can all back off a little bit, maybe it will broaden the market,” Elser said. “Maybe if the demands for speed aren’t quite so great, we can broaden the base of buyers and broaden the base of horses that will get a fair chance and then go and perform–we’re all trying to find the horse that performs in the afternoon.”

The under-tack show for the Gulfstream sale will begin Monday at 9 a.m. The auction will be held Wednesday in the Gulfstream paddock beginning at 3 p.m.

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