When a breeder buys a stallion season, it's always something of a gamble. Even with the best of sires, there are no certainties about what kind of racehorse might be produced.
But at next week's Thoroughbred Charities of America Stallion Season Auction, there's at least one guarantee. Every dollar spent will directly benefit the people and horses that make this industry tick.
“This is our largest annual fundraiser, so for the charities who are our grantees, it's really imperative to the amount of money we can distribute each year,” said Erin Crady, executive director of Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA).
The Stallion Season Auction was the brainchild of breeders Herb and Ellen Moelis, along with renowned horsewoman Allaire duPont, who thought auctioning stallion seasons might be a good way to raise money for the many non-profits that rescue and rehome Thoroughbreds, conduct research, educate, or assist in therapy.
In 1990, 20 people attended the first auction at the Moelis's CandyLand Farm in Delaware, and the event brought in $15,000. Since then, nearly $10 million has been raised for more than 125 Thoroughbred-related charities, mostly through the TCA, formed in 1997 to coordinate the auction and distribute the funds across the country.
The 23rd annual fundraiser begins next Thursday, Jan. 3, with a two-day telephone auction. Crady said that's when a majority of the 185 available stallion seasons will sell. Register to bid here. On Saturday, Jan 5., a live auction featuring select stallion seasons will take place at the Keeneland Entertainment Center in Lexington. Purchase tickets to the live auction here.
This year's roster of select stallion seasons: Arch, Bodemeister, Broken Vow, Congrats, Curlin, Elusive Quality, English Channel, Exchange Rate, First Samurai, Gio Ponti, Harlan's Holiday, Kitten's Joy, Macho Uno, Malibu Moon, Medaglia d'Oro, More Than Ready, Quality Road, Shackleford, Smart Strike, Speightstown, and Super Saver.
In addition to seasons, the 2013 auction will feature other noteworthy items: Trips to New York City and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; a package that includes tickets to all three Triple Crown races; and a stay at the WinStar Farm guest house during an upcoming Keeneland meet.
“Our target audience is not only breeders but really any TCA supporters,” Crady said. “It you want to support the TCA but don't have a mare, you can participate in the auction for the non-season items.”
For the first time this year, many of the non-season items are available for bidding online through the BiddingForGood website.
Saturday's event also includes a Diamond Champagne Raffle, where one lucky bidder will find a real diamond attached to their champagne glass.
“It's another way for us to have participation at all levels,” Crady said. “Last year, it was $50 a glass.”
For breeders, in addition to supporting Thoroughbred charities, there's always the hope they'll find their “diamond” foal by purchasing a season. Don't think it can't happen.
This year's most expensive 2-year-old in training that was sold at public auction was a Big Brown colt purchased for $1.3 million.
Breeders Lansdon Robbins and Tom Hansen bought the season to Big Brown at – you guessed it – the December 2008 TCA Stallion Season Auction. The colt, recently named Darwin, won first out for trainer Todd Pletcher in October, then finished fourth in the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct.
“It's very exciting,” said Crady, who is in her fourth year at the TCA. “There could be many more like that, but Darwin is the first that's come to my attention.”
At the live event at Keeneland, the TCA will honor Frank Stronach with the TCA Leadership Award for his involvement with Thoroughbred charities and the Belmont Child Care Association with the TCA Industry Service Award.
“Mr. Stronach and the Belmont Child Care Association personify the spirit of these awards,” said Dan Rosenberg, president of TCA. “We are extremely grateful for their contributions and dedication to our industry.”
Crady said she'd also like to thank the many stallion farms, sponsors, and individuals who have made the Stallion Season Auction a success each year. In 2012, the TCA distributed about $600,000 to 82 charities around the country.
“We have such outstanding support from farms, from owners, trainers, board members. We couldn't do it without them.”
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