Joseph Mast has seen thousands of horses go through the ring as an auctioneer for Fasig-Tipton, but for the first time on Monday, it'll be one of his own.
Sworn Silence, a Greeley's Conquest filly co-owned by Mast, Fasig-Tipton vice president of client services Max Hodge, and Sol Kumin's Great Point Stables, will be offered at the auction company's July Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale. The filly is the first Thoroughbred owned by Mast, an auctioneer with Fasig-Tipton for nearly a decade, and the sale will be the next chapter in his industry education.
“I just kind of wanted to know what these folks that own and race horses go through,” Mast said. “I only see them a couple seconds at a time when they walk in front of me, and I just wanted to know what the process was and how it works, and get my foot in the water a little bit.”
The opportunity to jump in presented itself at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale. Hodge bought Sworn Silence under the nom-de-sale ticket 4 Horsewomen Racing, named after his four daughters, for $1,000.
The filly was consigned by the University of Kentucky's Maine Chance Farm, where students raise, prep, and show the offerings under the guidance of instructors. Hodge is a Kentucky alum, and he took courses at Maine Chance while pursuing a degree in agriculture.
“The first time I saw Sworn Silence was when we were there on the farm, and she was the students' favorite,” Hodge said. “The pedigree is not the strongest, but she is absolutely gorgeous. I threw my hand up in the air when she was in the ring, and lo and behold, she wound up coming home with me. I've bought a horse or two from them to try and support the program.”
Mast approached Hodge after the sale about Sworn Silence, and the conversation ended with the auctioneer buying a 50 percent stake in the filly. She was later put in the barn of trainer Brad Cox.
First-time racehorse owners can often fall into one of two categories by the end of the experience: success stories or cautionary tales. At first, it looked like Mast was headed toward the latter.
Sworn Silence got loose on the track at Ellis Park during the summer of her 2-year-old season, and on her jaunt, she tried and failed to jump the inside rail. She suffered lacerations and spent time at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Ky., recuperating from her injuries.
The filly recovered in time to return to the track that fall, and the early reviews were positive from Cox, who entered her in a maiden claiming race at Churchill Downs for her debut effort in November. Mast came in from his home in Millersburg, Ohio, and he watched the filly draw clear to win by a length and a half.
Sworn Silence went on to win her follow-up start at Oaklawn Park, after which Great Point Stables bought in. Her record now stands at three wins in seven starts, most recently finishing second by a neck on Friday at Ellis Park. Once purchased for the upset price of $1,000, Sworn Silence has earned $79,042 on the track.
“It's probably been a lot better than it should have been for me owning my first one,” Mast said. “Now, I'm probably spoiled. It's got me addicted. You get to watch the horse go through her ups and downs, and kind of fall in love with her. The kids fall in love with her and watch her. Now, we look at her and ask what's the next steps for her, and that's why we're looking at bringing her to the sale and seeing if we can complete the whole circle – buy her, train her, race her, and sell her.”
Sworn Silence will be consigned at the Fasig-Tipton sale by Elite Sales, as agent for the owners. While many owners do not list themselves on the property line of a horse's catalog page, Mast and Hodge appear there per a policy in which Fasig-Tipton employees and board members must declare their ownership interests in an offering for the sake of transparency.
Further ensuring the transaction will be on the level, Mast said he would relinquish the auctioneer's stand when Sworn Silence goes through the ring. He maintains the same policy when selling cars of his own at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions, where he is lead auctioneer.
Mast didn't expect the sale of Sworn Silence to be the end of his ownership endeavors, but even the relatively short time he spent in that arena gave him the kind of perspective he expects will make him a better auctioneer.
“I've had a lot of fun with it,” he said. “It really opened my eyes to the much broader market, and what everybody's going through, than just being an auctioneer. It's been good for me. There's a part of me that thinks if you're auctioning off a horse, you ought to have at least owned one.”
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