Harlan Malter's hustle in marketing his young stallion Bucchero has manifested itself with full books in the horse's first two seasons at stud. Now that Bucchero has foals on the ground, Malter has moved into the next phase of promotion with a website that not only serves as the stallion's Facebook network, but his eBay.
On the recently-created “Bucchero Baby” website, breeders are able to submit their own pictures of their foals by the stallion, and each young horse is given their own profile page with details on their pedigrees and breeders. If they'd like, they can also offer the horses for sale.
Of course, there are plenty of places to see pictures of foals online, and using shots of standout babies is a stallion-marketing tool as old as commercial breeding itself. What Malter said separated the Bucchero Baby website from other promotional stallion sites – either as a page on a farm's site or a standalone destination – was the scope of the operation, spotlighting any Bucchero foal that's submitted instead of gatekeeping for the cream of the crop.
“Not many people have the opportunity to get a stallion, and even less have the opportunity to map it out on a very unique path,” Malter said. “Coming from being a small breeder, I've taken a lot of the perspective from when I was a small breeder to what I would want to see from a stallion. Obviously, the traditional method is to take a couple pictures of some nice foals, and realistically, foals are hard to really judge, but when you only see a couple of them, it makes that process even harder. I always thought, 'Why not just be able to see them all?'
Perhaps more importantly, what separates the site from just about anything else in the bloodstock space is that the babies are not only there to be fawned over and studied – they can be there to get sold.
Horses posted on the Bucchero Baby site can be listed for sale, with Malter facilitating the connection between the potential buyer and seller to negotiate their own terms at no additional charge. The horses can be listed at any age, but if a foal has not been weaned at the time it is posted on the website, the two parties will make arrangements to move the horse after the proper steps have been taken to wean the foal from its dam.
The site has already had its first successful transaction, with breeder Ernest Cox selling a colt out of the Grade 3-winning Rizzi mare Rizzi Girl.
Malter said his intention with the “for sale” portion of the website was not to step on the auction process, and he expects the Bucchero foals that were destined for the commercial market will find their way into the ring no matter what.
However, with the direction of the bloodstock marketplace rapidly becoming more open to online trade, and less beholden to the calendar of traditional live auctions, the Bucchero Baby website provides an opportunity to sell the stallion's foals whenever they need to be sold, even if it's off-season.
Malter said that using himself as the conduit for selling Bucchero foals could be appealing to newcomers on both sides of the transaction, who are facing an industry that can be hard to break into.
“This goes back to a lot of horse racing – a lot of people don't know how to do a lot of this stuff,” Malter said. “They don't know how to buy their first horse, get a trainer, where to keep a mare if they've got one, and even the people that do, there are limited opportunities to move horses. This is just one way that was not a difficult thing to do that's just an added value to the breeders.”
Bucchero, an 8-year-old son of Kantharos, is in the midst of his second season at Pleasant Acres Stallions in Morriston, Fla. The multiple Grade 2 winner was Florida's third-most active stallion of 2019, with 130 mares bred.
In a commercial marketplace that can often be distracted by the shiny new toys in the stud book, Bucchero has managed to maintain his popularity among breeders during his second year at stud. Malter said part of the reason for the sustained interest from Florida breeders came down to finally getting time to inspect the horse in earnest and word getting out from there.
“I think it speaks a little bit to the physicality of the way Florida breeders breed,” he said. “A lot of people may have missed what Bucchero looks like, because he wasn't in some of the most prestigious races where more breeders might have had eyeballs on him [particularly in Florida]. Once he got down there and people saw the physical, that sealed the deal. It's a little bit of a unique situation, in that he got down there and entered the breeding season just off the racetrack, basically, from the Breeders' Cup, and after people bred in Florida, they saw him and they told other people, so that was a huge feedback we got this year. People couldn't believe it once they got over to see him.”
With all of this in mind, Bucchero's next two seasons are traditionally the most difficult in terms of drawing mares, as breeders wait for the first crops to mature and hit the racetrack before diving back in or moving on. Fortunately, Malter has a plan for that, too.
“This is really just step one,” he said about the website in its current incarnation. “Step two is to follow each one of these crops from being foals to weanlings, to showing up at auctions, and then they'll start being raced, and we hope to make this site deliver all of that information to people.
“It all comes down to being dependent on the success of the horse, but that's how I've always been in life,” Malter continued. “You've gotta go all-in. I'm going to let Bucchero do what he can do, and he's going to be what he's going to be.”
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