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Just A Few Questions…

Ready To Run under the microscope
Updated October 29, 2014

And then there were three.
The Ready to Run concept has blossomed in the last two years, going from one, to two, to three auctions – this year held in the space of about a month in the Cape and Gauteng. Massive sale-race incentives are now part of almost every auction sale worth its salt in South Africa, with (this year, at least) the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale’s 3.6 million Cup-race the front runner.

Now’s a good time to take a look over our shoulder, to evaluate the meaning of Ready To Run, and to see how things are changing – because changes are big.
Let Q&A lead the way.

 1. How good are the best from Ready to Run?
Imbongi – TFR 119n UK and Gr2 win, Dubai

The original Ready to Run Sales had less than 200 catalogued 2yo’s. As a result, the horses qualifying for the big Sale-race could be anything. Top quality in some years, less needed to win in others. Things weren’t always easy for buyers, without physically outstanding specimens drawing the attention. Buyers either had to be clever, or just buy a whole bunch and hope for the best in the genetic lottery.
That said, sale-race results of the last seven years make interesting reading when measuring quality, and putting it in the context of traditional yearling sale results:

2007– fourteen runners, with Umngazi beating race favourite Imbongi; six of the fourteen runners ended up with MRs of 100 and more, and Imbongi campaigned in Dubai & UK (Timeform 119)

2008– sixteen runners, Smangaliso beating Fenerbahce, with favourite Hurrican Force fourth; not a vintage year, only two of the sixteen getting subsequent MRs over 100

2009– sixteen runners; Pierre Jourdan got up from Fisani and race favourite Havasha, with Smanjemanje down the field, second-last – they made their mark subsequently in big races, four of them earning millions, and 8 of the sixteen getting MR 100 or more.

2010– fifteen runners, of which odds-on favourite Igugu finished second to Hollywoodboulevard. These two fillies stood head and shoulders above the rest, and were the only two to subsequently break the MR100 barrier. Igugu became Horse of the Year and campaigned in Dubai & UK (Timeform 114).

2011– sixteen runners, with favourite Red Barrel doing what was expected from Extra Zero and Blaze Of Fire, a 66/1 shot; the latter, a Gr1 placed stakes winner later on, made it to MR 113 – he was the only one in the field to get over MR 100

2012– fifteen runners, and a 16/1 winner, Rock Of Arts, who beat Negev and Killua Castle; the latter later became one of two in the field to get MR100 or more

2013– sixteen runners, and an 8/1 winner, Winter Star; the joint favourites at 7/2 were Judicial (3rd) and Arcetri Pink (5th); four of the runners have so far made it to MR 100

Arcetri Pink Thoroughbred Racehorse
Arcetri Pink – won Gr2 Gauteng Guineas, twice Gr1 placed

The 1400m sale race comes early in November, at the beginning of the classic year for the 3yo’s. Many are still lightly raced and unexposed, which explains why favourites don’t have a great record, and why so many none-winners go on to have fantastic careers.
The proportion of really top horses (to horses sold) at the Ready to Run is quite astonishing when compared to yearling sales – and the best really are good.

 2. Who makes the final field?
What it takes to get into the sale-race varies from year to year. Merit Ratings are published for all runners and give a reasonable indication of ability needed to get a run and a chance to earn (sale races usually reward down to tenth finisher).

Here’s what happened in the past:
·         2007– lowest of the MRs was 78 (Phunyuka, finished 5th; subsequent career MR was 106), winner Umngazi 85 (career high went to 97)

·         2008– lowest 73 (Zanzabee, alter went to 88, and Trigger); winner Smangaliso was 86 (later went to 89)

·         2009– lowest 79 (Mluleki); winner Pierre Jourdan was 94 (later went to 116)
·         2010– lowest 79 (Checheke, later 92); winner Hollywoodboulevard 89 (later 103)
·         2011– lowest 77 (Moet Magic); winner Red Barrel 80 (later went to 97)
·         2012– lowest 80 (London Olympics, remained 80); winner Rock Of Arts 88 (later 90)
·         2013– lowest 85 ( 3 runners; 85 was inflated as NHA had upped all MRs by 6 points); winner Winter Star had 104 (really 98 then)
So in essence, you don’t have to be a star pre-race to be able to get a run. Winning takes more doing, though.

3. Does sex matter?
The people who select the final field for the sale-races are not known, nor is the method they use to select the final field.

There are no published rules on selection. The assumption must be that some sort of performance criteria is applied, but to what extent the sex allowance for fillies in the sale-race is taken into account pre-race – who knows.
We’re in the dark.

At most yearling sales prices for colts usually are higher than those of fillies.
The same is true for the Ready to Run Sales to date. That seems to suggest that the final fields for the races should contain more colts than fillies, and that the results should show more colts as winners. True or false?

The last seven years show this:
·         2007– 14 runners, 11 colts; first four all colts
·         2008–16 runners, 8 colts; fillies finish first and third
·         2009– 16 runners, 11 colts; first, third and fourth are colts
·         2010– 15 runners, 9 colts; fillies finish first and second
·         2011– 16 runners, 10 colts;  first, third and fourth are colts
·         2012– 15 runners, 8 colts;  first, third and fourth are colts
·         2013– 16 runners, 5 colts;  filly wins, colts fill the places
Does sex matter? When it comes to winning, fillies seem to defy the odds.

4. Do big spenders have an edge?

Igugu Horse of the Year
Igugu – Horse of the Year & Pierre Jourdan – 2nd to Igugu in the July

Although a high price at the sale does not guarantee that the horse will be able to perform at a high level, statistically speaking the more expensive horses have a better chance to make it big.

But real quality (and the high price that goes with it) is not always easy to find at a Ready to Run auction.
So how do prices of winners stack up?
·         2007 – Umngazi, 180k.
·         2008 – Smangaliso, 100k.
·         2009 – Pierre Jourdan, 60k.
·         2010 – Hollywoodboulevard, 900k.
·         2011 – Red Barrel, 350k.
·         2012 – Rock Of Arts, 850k.
·         2013 – Winter Star, 100k.

Among the placed horses in the seven-year period, only two were bought for less than 100k – that were Blaze Of Fire at 70k and Mount Hillaby at 80k.
It seems you have to spend more to get more.

 5. Which stallions sire the winners?
The Emperors Palace Cup is a 7 furlong race on a stiff track, so you might expect the offspring of sprinting sires to be outdone by the more staying stallions.

Here we’re hitting a hurdle. Until this year the majority of the entries were from Summerhill Stud, resulting in an over-representation of stallions from the stud (as well as their Australian imports). Cape sires weren’t represented in good numbers.

All that is set to change following the 2014 renewal of the original sale: there will be far less from Summerhill, and more from the Cape.

Smanjemanje Thoroughbred Racehorse
Smanjemanje – nose 2nd in the July 2012

Keep that in mind when perusing the stats of the last seven years. The winning sires were (in year-order) Muhtafal, Kahal, Parade Leader, Street Cry, Right Approach, Rock Of Gibraltar, Solskjaer.

Looking at the placed horses, Kahal gets another three representatives, with single numbers for all others: Russian Revival, Galileo, Way West, Stronghold, Mulllins Bay, Lavery, Albarahin, Captain Al, Victory Moon, Churchill Downs, Miesque’s Approval.
Speed, judging from these sire names, clearly isn’t everything.
6. What’s The Future for Ready To Run?
The original thought behind Ready To Run was to give buyers some sort of idea about the running style and ability of the horses on the gallops. In addition, the costly waiting period between time of buying and racing would be much shorter. Buyers would win all round. Well, not quite. The traditional method of selling horses as yearlings remained the preferred method of trading for the big vendors. As a result, the best sires simply weren’t available at Ready to Run sales. If it hadn’t been for Summerhill’s persistence, RtR would have died a long time ago.
And now? Things have changed.

The Ready To Run sale has become the thinking man’s venture. Where it is possible to bring your own ticket to a lottery with big prizes and few tickets. Or to combine a ticket from one lottery with another, with an added chance to get an early pay-off.
To fully understand this, look at the entries for the Ready To Run sales and check their history.
Some are here as pinhooks – bought at an earlier sale with the purpose to resell at a profit. The earlier sale may also have a sale race attached to it, so if the horse turns out to be decent, the big earning opportunity is doubled.

Other horses are here simply to qualify for the valuable sale race – the current owner has no real desire to sell the horse (which was probably bought at an earlier yearling sale). Of course, everything has a price.

With so many different interests and points of view around the sale-rings this week, there’s bound to be fireworks.

For the record, here’s a list of sale-horses who went through the ring at previous sales.
Previously sold entrants on the BSA Ready To Run Sale – 2 November
lot horsename auction price buyer
2 12what A Dream ns 130000 T & L Racing Stables
4 12Wolf’s Rain ns 100000 Balmoral Stud
5 12Absolute Mission bk2 140000 Brett Crawford
7 Silver Sage bk1 125000 Ambiance Stud
8 Cause A Commotion ty 30000 Kerry Jack Bloodstock
9 12arctic Game ty 30000 Knife Racers
13 Sound Cloud bk1 400000 Paul Peter
14 12badger Express cms 35000 Braun, Mr E
14 12badger Express bk2 20000 Balmoral Stud
16 12Blackeyed Susan ty 60000 Kerry Jack Bloodstock
17 Nala ns 160000 Stonehill Stud
18 Seattle Belle bk2 55000 Cs Moller
19 Record Bid bk2 80000 Patterson Racing
22 Nine Mile ns 325000 Kuda Insurance
24 Wallace ty 60000 Pretorius, Roland
30 Captain Courteous bk1 700000 Doyle Bloodstock/Kirkwood
31 Netflix ns 375000 Stonehill Stud
35 Redcarpet Captain bk1 700000 B Burnard
43 12Fire Tread ns 110000 Balmoral Stud
45 Dearest Secret bk1 250000 Mike Robinson
46 Larimar crtr 150000 Glen Puller
52 Inca Lily ns 80000 Mawing W H  Racing Stables
55 Impressed bk1 625000 Doyle Bloodstock/Kirkwood
58 Jack The Knife cms 15000 Moller Chris + Associates
61 Grand Jury ty 55000 Pretorius, Roland
62 Saint Kali bk2 60000 Kerry Jack Bloodstock
63 12Ladybird Blue crtr 1150000 Allan Bloodlines
72 Madame Le Roi nt 30000 Naidoo R
76 Acrux ns 160000 Mawing W H  Racing Stables
81 B Twenty One ns 200000 Kriel Tl
83 Arctic Chill ns 325000 Barnard C J
84 12Platinum Rose bk2 35000 Kerry Jack Bloodstock
86 Just Saying ty 25000 Kerry Jack Bloodstock
89 Reminisence ns 140000 Stonehill Stud
93 Johnny Kay bk2 180000 Five Star Stud
94 Dawn Flight bk2 75000 Allan Bloodlines
97 12Seminole ns 70000 Balmoral Stud
101 Baylisiana ns 320000 Form Bloodstock
102 Variety Spirit ns 300000 Pretorius, Roland
103 12stop The Music cms 35000 Arc-En-Ciel Stud
106 Tip Of The Glacier ns 300000 Pretorius, Roland
113 Lauderdale bk2 40000 Allan Bloodlines
115 Ooh La Var bk1 275000 V Veeramootoo
116 Night March nt 320000 S D Gray Racing
118 Picardi Pink bk1 275000 V Veeramootoo
119 12Qui Success nt 350000 S D Gray Racing
121 In India nt 100000 Racing Manager
122 12Almond Star nt 50000 Racing Manager
123 Desert Thunder nt 65000 Racing Manager
124 Seattle nt 40000 Racing Manager
125 Dawn Raid crtr 280000 Balmoral Stud
Previously sold entrants on the CTS Ready To Run Sale – 31 October
lot horsename auction price buyer
10 Perfumed Lady bk1 550000 Form Bloodstock
22 Seven League Boots ns 150000 Chetty D
25 12Star Wars bk2 140000 J Janse Van Vuuren
28 Red Rebel ns 200000 Adams H  Racing
30 Fortissima ns 200000 Joe Soma Racing
67 Janie Barlow ns 130000 Gordinho M A
68 Al Dangeur ty 130000 Thomas Js
69 Witchcraft ns 200000 Gordinho M A
76 Tar Heel bk1 425000 Form Bloodstock
78 Stebbins ns 550000 Adams H  Racing
80 12Favourite Island bk2 50000 Kerry Jack Bloodstock
82 Gusheshe ns 800000 Janet Baker Properties
86 Main Submission bk1 300000 Alesh Naidoo
96 Koncealed ns 50000 Adams H  Racing
109 Off To Gaul ns 300000 Joe Soma Racing
113 12look Sharp ns 240000 Adams H  Racing
121 In Your Dreams ns 260000 Thomas Js
126 Ottawa Rima bk1 150000 Alesh Naidoo
131 12Precedent ns 250000 Janet Baker Properties
132 Chisanyama ns 700000 Janet Baker Properties
136 Deutsch Luftwaffe crtr 50000 Favour Stud As Agent
137 Khaleesi crtr 170000 Gavin Almanza
137 Khaleesi bk2 80000 Klawervlei  Stud
138 Three Trees ns 360000 Tawny Syndicate
139 Paulus crtr 40000 Favour Stud As Agent
140 Rondomtalie crtr 70000 Favour Stud As Agent
141 12Bariloche crtr 70000 Blue Grass Trading
142 Foxy Voxy crtr 20000 Corne Spies
143 Red Dragon bk2 90000 Kuda Insurance
143 Red Dragon crtr 110000 Central Route Trading
144 Violet Pilot crtr 40000 Favour Stud As Agent
145 12miss Turbulence ns 180000 Mawing W H  Racing Stables
146 Reef Of Fortune bk2 120000 Kerry Jack Bloodstock
146 Reef Of Fortune crtr 130000 Mayfair Speculators
7. Do Ready to Run stakes skew the stats?
Of course they do.
But then so do the earnings attributed to the winners of our biggest races, the July, J&B Met, Summer Cup – none of which are contested on level terms. The best horse hardly ever wins.

Statistics are further skewed by the fact that at least half of all prizemoney distributed in South Africa goes to races where conditions apply – conditions which generally ensure the best horses don’t win.

So why single out sale-race figures for exclusion from earnings stats?
It’s all hokum!