An unraced horse was sold for $16 million at Calder Race Course, breaking the previous world record set more than two decades ago.A nameless, Florida-born colt shattered a world record Tuesday for the most expensive horse sold at auction, selling for $16 million after an electrifying 10 minutes of bidding at Calder Race Course in Miami Gardens.
You can bet this horse is Kentucky Derby material.
The previous record of $13.1 million was set in 1985 for Seattle Dancer, whose lineage included Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, according to industry publication
The 2-year-old, which has never raced but boasts two Derby winners in its bloodline, scored the fastest workout time among the 154 racehorses sold Tuesday, wowing prospective buyers by running an eighth of a mile in under 10 seconds.
In the closest thing to a photo finish in a bidding battle royale --the audience had to be shushed several times by the auctioneer -- Irish racing magnate Demi O'Byrne edged out a representative of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai by $500,000.
Calder is no Churchill Downs, but the annual auction, the Fasig-Tipton sale, has come to be the premiere event of its kind involving 2-year-olds in training, drawing thousands of owners, breeders and trainers from around the world for several days of exhibitions culminating in the daylong sale.
One by one, the prospects are first paraded through the paddock, then led by a handler into a covered sales ring. Surrounding the auctioneer, people are dressed casually, some seated and bidding, others milling about.
The sale is growing in stature in the horse world, as investors in the Sport of Kings focus more on the jackpot to be made in the breeding shed than in the winners' circle.
''He'd have to win every major race in the country and the world to justify being purchased for $16 million,'' said Michele Blanco, a spokeswoman for Calder, said of the $16 million horse. ``The new owners are definitely looking at this horse as a racing prospect, but ultimately they are going to make that money back in the breeding.''
One of the nation's most prolific breeding horses, Storm Cat, mated with 109 mares last year -- at $500,000 a pop. That's $54.5 million.
The record-setting, reddish-brown horse, with a broad white blaze down his face, could begin running races in the next few months and be in the running for the 2007 Derby -- following the path of his forbearers 1981 Derby winner Pleasant Colony and 1990 winner Unbridled. O'Byrne, who purchased the horse as part of a team of buyers, declined to be interviewed.
Little known outside the tightknit world of global racing professionals, the auction made headlines last year when a buyer paid $5.2 million for Ever Shifting, a record at the time for a 2-year-old.
But buying horses is a risky business. Ever Shifting, bought by Sheikh Mohammed, has yet to start a race, although some had reckoned him to be a Kentucky Derby contender.
And Seattle Dancer, the previous record holder for horses of all ages, retired after winning two races and $164,000.
You don't necessarily need millions to invest in a racehorse -- the median price of the horses sold Tuesday at Calder was about $200,000 -- but you should if you plan on making any money, said trainer Rick Violette, who bought a horse for $450,000 Tuesday for a client in Boston.
There are only so many Funny Cides. That was the horse bought a few years ago by a group of high school buddies who pitched in a few thousands dollars each to follow their dream. Funny Cide nearly won the Triple Crown of racing.
Usually, Violette said, those who make money in buying racehorses have assembled a stable of good horses, much as the owner of a baseball or football team.
And, it takes skill to buy smart, he said. A bidder will examine the crop a week or sometimes more before deciding on a favorite. ''The people who think they can buy one horse and stay in the business for a year or two and with those assets carry on a business -- those are the people who get chewed up,'' Violette said.
Ultimately, Violette said, those who pay huge sums for racehorses aren't looking for returns alone.
``They love the racing, and they get enjoyment out of the performance of the athlete. And, they like being in the winners circle