How does a freelance journalist attending his first thoroughbred horse auction become an owner for the first time in a partnership with some of the best owners in the sport? Here’s how.
None of my memorable day at the Barrett’s March Sale for Selected Two-Year Olds in Training would have been possible without the kindness of Nick J. Hines, a.k.a "The Sarge."
I met Sarge this past November during Breeders’ Cup Friday at Santa Anita as I was standing by the finish line cheering in Life is Sweet in the Ladies’ Classic. Although Sarge thought Careless Jewel was going to wire the field, he congratulated me on my score in the pick 4 and our friendship materialized over the next few months through Twitter and Facebook as we discussed our love for the sport of horse racing.
Sarge was a well-respected and successful trainer on the Southern California circuit for nearly 15 years before becoming the racing manager for Southern Equine Stables and an on-air personality for TVG. In transitioning out of his employment with Southern Equine upon their move to Louisiana, he is now filling that void by working as a bloodstock consultant.
That brings us to yesterday’s sale, where Sarge was gracious enough to give me a warm introduction to the big players in attendance, who were all eager to greet him with a smile and a hand shake, and let me follow him around to show me the inner workings of what goes on at a sale: from reviewing the board to see what medications the horses were given both prior to and after running in the under tack show; to confirming with his veterinarian on the soundness of the horses he had his eyes on; to walking into the auction room to bid on horses going into the ring.
With a slight lift of the eyebrow and a nod of his head, Sarge’s $47K bid on Hip 84, a California-bred chestnut colt out of Tribal Rule (pictured), was acknowledged by the auctioneer. With the auctioneer failing to convince any of the other bidders to offer $50K, he dropped the gavel, and the first message Sarge received on his Blackberry was from one of the owners in the partnership he was buying for instructing him not to go over $48K. Success!
Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine a couple hours later that I would be part owner of this horse.
After successfully purchasing the other horse he had on his radar, Hip 128 out of Unbridled Energy, Sarge and I went back to the stables to meet both horses he had just purchased.
We were joined by Ron and Nanette Brewer (Brewer Racing Stable), part of the partnership that Sarge was buying for, and the customary talk of the lofty aspirations we had for both horses ensued.
The Brewer’s have become racing royalty in the Sport of Kings, with over 25 horses currently in training. Yogi, as Ron prefers to be called, told me he got into the game to fulfill a wish his mother had before she passed. He worked hard to be able to afford his first horse and was fortunate enough to have success early with his horses, and continuing success with his business, that has allowed him and his wife to share amazing experiences through horse racing.
They have experienced the highs of winning the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante with Wild Fit, going to Dubai to see their Barbecue Eddie run in the $2 million Golden Shaheen. They've also gone to Royal Ascot in England to run Yogi’s namesake, Yogaroo, and watch Strike the Tiger become the first American-trained horse to win a race there.
But, they have also experienced the lows, as their I Want Revenge, who was the morning line favorite, was scratched on the morning of the Kentucky Derby last year.
So where do the Brewer’s go to dinner after successfully purchasing expensive thoroughbred race horses? A modest Mexican restaurant, in an even more modest part of Pomona, that Yogi started going to when he was 13 years old.
I was very appreciative of their invitation and looked forward to continuing to discuss horse racing with them, Sarge, and let’s not forget James, who is another bloodstock agent that we spent the day with.
At dinner, Yogi was impressed with my knowledge of the sport, and after I told him that one day I would love to own horses, but that probably was not going to happen for a while, he offered me 5 percent of the Tribal Rule. I was shocked that this man whom I had just met a couple hours ago could make such a generous offer. Before that shock could wear off, he had upped his offer to 10 percent!
The fitting end to what I hope will be just the first chapter of this burgeoning partnership and friendship will be hearing Trevor Denman at Del Mar this summer saying, “They would need to sprout wings to catch Thunder Pantz…”
Yes, we came up with a name for the horse as well. And, if you really need to know how we came up with it, I can tell you that Sarge is the proud father of a newborn son.
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @mdoche.