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Jamie Railton treading carefully during 'uncertain times' at Keeneland

High-profile pinhooker Peter O'Callaghan has kept his powder dry so far

Jamie Railton: "This is not the time to be inventive"
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Pinhookers are finding the weanling market at the November sales in the United States extra challenging this year as they face tenacious competition from deep-pocketed owners seeking to buy weanlings to eventually race.

“It’s stronger than ever,” said high-profile pinhooker Peter O’Callaghan of Woods Edge Farm on Tuesday in describing the overall weanling market.

“We knew it was going to be strong, but there’s as much or more racing money around this year than there has been in a while. Having this much end-user money here makes it extremely difficult to operate,” added O’Callaghan, who noted that he had been shut out during the first two days of action.

“We’re a bit behind. We bought nothing at Fasig-Tipton and nothing in (Keeneland’s) Book 1, which is a first ever for us. We’ve had a lot of success buying out of Book 1 here every year and it’s disappointing we didn’t get to buy anything yesterday,” he said. “There were some nice horses but we just couldn’t get them bought.”

Assisted by his brothers, Irish-born O’Callaghan secured six colts during Keeneland’s second November sale session, paying a total of $1.14 million. Undoubtedly, he is hoping he can repeat his huge success when he sold an American Pharoah colt he had purchased for $400,000 at last year’s Keeneland November sale to Sheikh Mohammed for $2.2m at the September yearling sale.

“We’re off and running. We’re at full stretch to buy everything but we have some bought now so hopefully they’ll be OK and we’ll see how they work out for us,” O’Callaghan said.

The Keeneland sales ground was a hive of activity the past two days

O’Callaghan and his team use several different entity names while buying, including Cavalier Bloodstock. Another name that appeared on sale sheets, AROC Racing, was listed with its location identified as Woods Edge Farm.

Under the Cavalier name, O’Callaghan’s acquisitions included a $295,000 Malibu Moon colt out of Grade 3 winner Our Khrysty, a half sister to Grade 1 winner Bullsbay. AROC Racing’s four purchases included a $300,000 Into Mischief colt and a $215,000 Candy Ride colt.

European pinhookers who have enjoyed past success from buying weanlings in America and reselling them in Europe face possibly a tougher task this year than do O’Callaghan and his Kentucky-based peers.

While the American market is robust, sales in Europe are weaker for anything but the top horses, and, additionally, there are not a plethora of choices when it comes to finding horses that are ideal for resale in Europe.

View Fasig-Tipton results and buyers

View Keeneland results and buyers

British-based bloodstock agent and consignor Jamie Railton emphasized those challenges after he bought a $160,000 Speightstown colt from the family of Grade 1 winner Behrens at Keeneland on Tuesday.

“This is a very strong market and we’d be taking horses back to a weaker one, so we have to tread very carefully - very carefully. And the currency is not what it used to be either, so we have to be very cautious,” Railton said.

“We can’t stray away from the proven, so that’s what we have to stick to. I think in these uncertain times we just have to be very careful and stick to what we know works. This is not the time to be inventive,” he added.

In general, Railton said horses by proven turf sires, such as Speightstown, and with the physical characteristics of good grass runners must be found in order for a transatlantic pinhook to have a chance of being profitable.

During the Tattersalls October Book 2 sale, Railton, as agent, sold a Kitten’s Joy colt for 280,000gns for a healthy pinhooking score. The colt had been bought as a weanling at Keeneland by Hunter Valley Farm for $77,000 and the resale price at Tattersalls was the equivalent of $386,375.

“We’ve been lucky over the years, but in these times we just have to be careful,” Railton said.

More from the breeding stock sales in Kentucky:

War Front: how the Danzig lookalike became a sire in global demand

Seven-figure frenzy as Galileo mares prove the must-have item in Kentucky

The currency is not what it used to be either, so we have to be very cautious
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