By Jessica Martini
It was the rodeo that brought Billy Love to town, but he’s staying in Ocala for the Thoroughbreds. The Pennsylvania native will offer his first consignment during the open session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s October Yearling Sale Wednesday with eight horses selling under his Love’s Equine LLC banner.
“I made my way down here through rodeoing, at the rodeos in the wintertime,” Love explained. “Someone that I competed with is in the Thoroughbred industry, Clovis Crane, and he hooked me up with Ali and Brandon Rice from RiceHorse Stables four years ago. I started working under them. They’ve been great mentors for me for the past four years.”
Love worked his way up in the Rices’ operation and, with each step, discovered he wanted to get more involved.
“I went from being a ground worker to then going on to being a barn manager and now I’m riding and galloping for them as well, starting horses,” Love said. “From there, I went to investing in horses and then getting my own company with an LLC. And now I’m out here with my first consignment.”
Of the eight yearlings he’ll send through the ring Wednesday, Love said, “I have a couple of my own down here that I own a piece of and then I have six others that I’m consigning for some other clients as well.
“I am very confident in them,” he continued. “We’ve had a lot of action. People seem to be happy with what they see and the X-ray reports are good. We are taking everything up there to sell. We’re not going to hold anything back.”
It may be Love’s first yearling sale, but he said it was the work done ahead of time that will be the key to success.
“It’s all about preparation,” he said. “So I’m glad I did all my homework with the horses with the prep we did ahead of time because the results are showing. It’s like you do your homework for your college and you go and pass or fail your test. It’s the same thing here. If you show up with horses who aren’t prepared, they aren’t going to present themselves well.”
Even as he prepares to send his first yearlings through the sales ring, Love is looking ahead to restocking with weanlings for the 2020 yearlings sales.
“Next week, I am going with Brandon to [Fasig-Tipton] Saratoga [Fall Sale] to purchase some weanlings for next season,” Love said. “Brandon and Ali and Brandon’s parents, Bryan and Holley [Rice], they’ll be helping guide me through the whole process of buying. They’ve all been great help mentoring me through the whole process to make sure I’m taking all the right steps, since they’ve been doing it their whole lives.”
Love’s original goal was to partner up on six weanlings to pinhook next year, but he’s already starting to think about upping that number.
“I set a goal to have at least six for the next season,” he explained. “And to have, maybe not 100% ownership, but I wanted to have partners on some. I’ve already found that I have at least three horses that I have partnerships with and it seems like the numbers are getting to where I want, so I might up my goal to more than that if there is a feasible dollar value.”
His initial consignment this week at OBS has also been good for the 33-year-old’s business.
“Through this sale, I’ve already picked up five clients for next season to be selling for,” Love said.
While it was the rodeo that led Love to Ocala, he is now squarely all-in on the Thoroughbreds.
“I’ve gotten so involved with Thoroughbreds–I feel like with this or rodeo, you have to be all-in or nothing,” he said of the transition. “I know this will be my career. In rodeo, I competed in riding bulls and bucking horses, so that’s not necessarily a life-long career. It’s more a young man’s sport. You can train horses for a very long time. Especially with the consignments and building a reputation, I can be selling at yearling sales across the country. I’m definitely going to stick with the weanlings-to-yearlings and it’s probably something that I’ll do for a long time. I really enjoy it.”