‘Trying To Change Market Thinking’: Kirkwood Offers ‘No-Breeze Show’ At Florida Sale

Courtesy of the Paulick Report

by  | 03.22.2018 | 11:13am

Kirkwood horses galloping at Springdale Training Center

Plenty of casual race fans and bloodstock professionals alike have expressed concern about the rule of the stopwatch at 2-year-old sales. In a feature by the Thoroughbred Daily News earlier this month, veteran consignor Niall Brennan said he’s seen a change in breeze-up sales over the past few years. Speed has always been important, but the market has become obsessed with the bullet and employed “Quarter Horse training methods” in which horses have to go flat-out to meet expectations that have little to do with the racetrack.

One unnamed investor is hoping to push back against the tidal wave of speed obsession.

Last year, Kirkwood Stables’ Kip Elser was approached by a longtime friend and former client at Saratoga who was frustrated by the problem of intense speed at juvenile sales.

“He said, ‘Let’s give this a try. Go buy me some horses and let’s take them to Gulfstream and not breeze them.’ It was really no more complicated than that,” said Elser. “He said, ‘I think maybe the pendulum has swung too far.’ We’re hearing rumblings about ‘How fast can you get them to go? We’re down to :9 4/5 (for a furlong) and what’s next.’ We said, ‘Let’s just take a step back and see if the market will accept it.’ This is very much a roll of the dice, and we’re aware of that.”

The result is a five-horse consignment offered by Kirkwood that will be shown to clients at a gallop, not breezing at the upcoming Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale. Elser emphasizes the horses have not been breezed at any point in their sale preparation, and the choice to show them at a gallop is not based on the horses’ abilities, but on a plan.

“They were bought in the name of Gulfstream Gallop specifically for this project,” he said. “I bought the same horses I would have bought any other year, whether they were going to the 2-year-old sales or the races, and I bought horses I like.
Elser says the group is coming along on equal footing, but if he had to pick favorites, he’d highlight Hip 137, a Blame filly from the family of multiple French group stakes winner Colour Chart and Hip 2, a Noble Mission (GB) colt whose half-brother Yulong Warrior won the Al Bastakiya Stakes at Meydan recently.Elser is not the first to try galloping horses at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale; Adena Springs did the same in 2015 and 2016 with mixed results under the hammer. But Elser said based on racetrack results, those groups of juveniles have done quite well – multiple graded winner Shakhimat and multiple stakes winner Winter came from those consignments, as did graded stakes-placed Scholar Athlete, Jamyson ‘n Ginger and Born To Be a Winner. Some of those horses are still running.

Elser agrees with his client that the 2-year-old auction system has created a bit of a monster – but it’s not easy to change market currents single-handedly.

“It remains to be seen if we can stay away somewhat from the clock,” he said. “I think my outlook is the same as everybody else that’s getting horses ready for the 2-year-old sales: it is very definitely market-driven. It’s what buyers want. This is a conscious effort to change the way buyers look at horses. If I didn’t have this friend and client that wants to do this, I don’t think I’d be taking this risk on my own of trying to change market thinking.”

He also says that to really make a difference, he may have to try this approach for several years. As long as his client is on board, Elser is fine with that.

“I would hope so. That’s the intention right now,” he said. “We’re certainly getting a response. I hope it translates into people watching them and looking at them on a shank and buying them, but it’s too early to tell that yet. We’ve certainly stirred the pot and I’m getting a very positive response from a lot of people saying they like the idea.”

MSW HIT IT ONCE MORE adds black-type in the Stymie S

Newly turned 5-year-old Hard Spun colt MSW HIT IT ONCE MORE  started his 2018 campaigned with a strong allowance win at PARX, followed by a win in the Haynesfield Stakes at Aqueduct. Back again in stakes company in the Stymie also at Aqueduct, he added to his resume with a third.  HIT IT ONCE MORE was purchased from Kirkwood Stables for $90,000 as a two year old by his trainer Gary Sciacca acting as agent for August Dawn Farm. He was bred by  JMJ Racing Stables, LLC. His bankroll stands over $509,000.


Kirkwood has the half brother to YULONG WARRIOR by NOBLE MISSION (GB) selling this month at the Fasig Tipton Gulfstream Sale.  YULONG WARRIOR (Street Cry (IRE) – Mahkama (USA) (Bernardini (USA)) demolished the field by over 10 lengths  in the Al Bastakia S at Meydan on Super Saturday as part of the build up to the Dubai World Cup.

WATCH THE RACE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vvyhGX3Y6U

BELLERIN graduates in a MSW at Santa Anita in wire to wire fashion

Kirkwood has many happy associations with the family of BELLERIN (Malibu Moon – Seek to Soar, by Seeking the Gold) through his grand dam Soaring Softly.
Yesterday going a mile on the dirt, BELLERIN showed early speed and went right to the lead and stayed there to score a win and break his maiden. The gelding was sold by  Kirkwood to trainer Carla Gaines for her client, owner Keith Brackpool.

SCHOLAR ATHLETE wins his 5th and going over 1/4 million in earnings

The very well named SCHOLAR ATHLETE  (Einstein) added a 5th win to his resume winning a $75,000 AOC going 1 1/8 0n the turf at Tampa Bay for owner West Point. He pressed the pace in 2nd and then took over to hit the wire in front. The now 5 year old gelding was graded stakes placed in the Commonwealth Turf Stakes (Gr. 3).
Lifetime Record: GSP, 19-5-0-4, $252,036.
B-Adena Springs (ON)
T-H. Graham Motion

FANTASTIC DAY for KIRKWOOD STABLES from north to south

Courtesy of the TDN
HIT IT ONCE MORE ( consigned and sold by Kirkwood for $90,000 at Timonium)   scored in the HAYNESFIELD S., $100,000 at Aqueduct racing a very sloppy mile.  Hit It Once More had prior success in state-bred stakes coming into Saturday, with victories in the New York Derby at Finger Lakes and the Albany S. at Saratoga in his sophomore campaign. After going wire-to-wire against allowance foes when adding blinkers at Parx Jan. 9, he finished fifth in an optional claiming event there last time out. The bay sprinted straight to the lead as the longest shot on the board and was two lengths clear passing the half-mile pole. He was still unchallenged and in hand around the far turn, was set down for the drive at the quarter pole and held steady in the final sixteenth to secure the front-running upset.

“He’s a nice horse,’ said winning trainer Gary Sciacca. “He had a great 3-year-old campaign last year, winning the [New York] Derby and coming back and winning the Albany at Saratoga. It took him a little while to get this 4-year-old year together. We went two starts back with the blinkers and it kind of seemed to make a bit of a difference on him. Made him more focused to do his job. He always broke good but he pays more attention now. From a 3-year-old to 4-year-old just made him pay attention.”  He has earned $494,642.

BERNED (started and prepared by  Kirkwood Stables) ran second in the G2- Barbara Fritchie S at Laurel. The $550,000 yearling is owned by 3C Stables LLC, West Point Thoroughbreds & Robert Masiello. She has earnings of  $254,781 and is a stakes winner already and is now multiple graded stakes placed.

I’M BETTY G dead-heated for 3rd in the Albert M Stall Memorial S at the Fair Grounds. She was consigned and sold by Kirkwood for $150,000 at Timonium. The 4-year-old filly is a multiple SW and has multiple graded stakes placings. She has earned  $162,465

I’M BETTY G 3rd in the South Beach S to add more black-type

 I’M BETTY G (Into Mischief) broke her maiden at Indiana Grand.   Moving straight from that win into stakes company in the Pearl Necklace at Laurel, the Maryland bred filly scored her first stakes win. She followed up with a stakes placing in the Indiana Grand Stakes. and a graded stakes placing in the Commonwealth Oaks-G3 followed by  a  another G3 stakes placing in the Pin Oak Valley View G3 at Keeneland where she led until deep stretch. She added a 3rd in the  Tropical Park Oaks at Gulfstream and another third in the South Beacn on the  Pegasus World Cup card.

I’M BETTY G was a $150,000 sales graduate for Kirkwood sold to current owner Three Diamonds Farm. She is trained by Michael J. Maker and has earned over $157,000.