Unlimited access >

Overseas Buyers

I saw a recent article this morning about Fasig Tipton’s efforts to get more international buyers to the sale. Bahrain, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Japan, Turkey etc. They sent nicely packaged catalogs to the middle east written in Arabic. They have meetings throughout the year with the royalty over there to increase demand at the sales.

There were a lot of international buyers at the Timonium Sale this week, horses shipping all over the world.

I have a question and I think it is a genuine one. What is happening to all of these horses in these countries when they can no longer race. Obviously the high end fillies and colts will likely go to the stud farms there and be used for breeding. But the majority of the horses racing over there are no different than the American horses: mediocre or mid-level horses who pay their bills but are not top tier. I’m sure there are many with career ending but non fatal injuries.

We know what happens to horses that are shipped to Puerto Rico that no longer race; they are led out back and euthanized or end up neglected and in need of rescue

We know what happens to a lot of horses in the Korea racing circuit. They end up in the slaughterhouse. Korea has held aftercare forums for its industry stakeholders in recent years. I think many in the racing industry in Korea recognize aftercare as a key issue for them right now. They have made great efforts from where they stood just five years ago. But there are articles from around 2020 that traced the whereabouts of a group of horses purchased at the sales in the States. Of 50 animals bought in the US, 1 stayed in the US to race, 14 were already dead; killed in the same slaughterhouse. Honor Step was purchased for $110k but never made it to the races, he was slaughtered in April 2018. Another had one win in six starts, was retired in February and slaughtered in March. I think in 2020, 97% of the horses racing in Korea ended their lives in the slaughterhouse.

I know Turkey “doesn’t” slaughter horses as they dont fit the religious requirements for Halal but is that true and what happens to all of the horses racing in the middle east?

Obviously companies like Keeneland, OBS, and Fasig Tipton are never going to comment on these issues. They want these buyers and their mega-deep pockets. They want their interest in American horses because it means paying dividends to the company selling the horses. Part of me thinks the consignors don’t care much about where these horses end up; they just want the right sales price and within a week the stall in the barn will be filled with the next sales horse.

Is it just like an undiscussed secret on American soil that doesn’t want to be discussed. Should it be discussed? I mean, KOID bought a lot of horses at Timonium this week. And I am sure that Japan has similar ends for the horses they purchase here.

Terrence Collier, Fasig Tipton’s director of Marketing seemed to have brushed off the known fate of the horses sold to South Korea out of their sales: “If they’re in a food chain,” Collier said of horses sent to slaughter, “it’s not going to be as desirable an end as we all imagined. That is just part of life, I’m afraid. But we need never to drop our guard, whether it’s in this country or overseas, and it’s not just for the perception but for the animal itself. They serve us so well and we owe constant care to them through the rest of their lives.”

I know PETA has been involved in this subject and I don’t want to go there as I think its a subject that needs intelligent, professional conversation and with the exception of one TB aftercare group; the industry doesn’t seem to care what happens to the horses sold overseas?
From my seat, I am looking at the horses sold just to KOID this week and my heart hurts for them.

The following horses will be heading for Korea (I would post the ones heading elsewhere but some were bought through agents and I can’t decipher which is going where)
Lot 9 - Instagrand - Equitable - Colt
Lot 24 - Tom’sD’Etat-Fiercely- Filly
Lot 94- Echo Town- INglorious Song-Colt
Lot 97- Tom’sD’Etat- Into Reality - Colt
Lot 128- Good Samaritan-Lady Ambassador-Colt
Lot 279- Midnight Lute- Sailing Shiska- Colt
Lot 341- Instagrand- Swamp Pass Alley- Filly
Lot 370- Isotherm-Travel Wish- Gelding
Lot 422- Mission Impazible-Abundantly Clear-Colt
Lot 449- Kantharos-Assured- Colt
Lot 496- Bravazo-Caption-Colt

At the OBS Sale in March KOID purchased 2:

Lot309- Maximus Mischief- Holidejavu - Colt
Lot 805- Cheer for Me (Jess’s Dream - Valverdina)-Colt

1 Like

The auction houses have no control over who buys the horses from their sales or where they go.

Owners consign their horses to the sale and they can make arrangements with the buyer to have the horse returned to them after his/her racing career is over, if they choose to. Owners who sell their stock at auction are aware that there is a chance their horse may be sold to someone outside of the U.S.

You seem to be wondering what happens to race horses outside of the U.S. when they are no longer racing? Except for South Korea which does slaughter (I’m not sure where Japan is now on that issue) I would say for the most part their fate is pretty much the same as in the U.S.

Some are returned to the U.S.
Some are retired (though Japan and S.Korea do not have the luxury of having the space to keep many) some are euthanized. In countries where horses are used for sport, some go on to other careers.

In the U.S. some end up at low end auctions, or on a truck to Mexico, as well. There are a few COTH members that have bought TBs in fairly rough shape from Bowie type auctions recently.

I’m not sure why you feel the auction houses are greedy because they advertise their catalogs and international buyers come here to buy U.S. bloodstock.
They can’t just say “no South Korean buyers allowed”.

6 Likes

I think it’s very sad as the horses in the US have a much better chance at life after racing since the US is relatively large, has a lot of space and lots of people who own horses for pleasure and recreation compared to many other countries. Just one of many reasons why my ethics don’t align with the racing industry. Extra sad to see the Jess’ Dream baby- I remember seeing JD at Saratoga in his first race and falling for him then :slight_smile:

3 Likes

I would suggest that, similar to the USA, most retired racehorses go on to have other careers. Many of the countries listed as destinations do not have large numbers of native breeds or horses suitable for adult leisure riding or high level sport so a retired racehorse is a good option.

1 Like

If I recall correctly, Ferdinand did wind up with a riding school for a time, before he was…er…slaughtered. That said, one of my favorite social media sites is Shigaki Yusa at Shizunai Stallion Station. Most of the stallions are ridden, and their facility looks lovely.

1 Like

As someone who has personally worked very closely with Kelley Stobie and Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare, I can’t let this comment slide and not mention how HARD that woman works for the horses on PR. Yes, it’s an uphill battle but she is making an effort to change the situation in what is basically viewed as a third world county.

10 Likes

I think this is an assumption though, not necessarily a fact. Korea as a whole has limited land and extremely limited resources for livestock which is why they are importing racehorses from elsewhere. Yes they have a lot of stallions and are importing stallions from us everyday, but much like the horses they import; the resulting offspring have one role in life and that is to run around an oval and when it can no longer do so; it becomes dinner.

I know many of the animal rights groups have done investigations into the horses arriving at the unloading ramp at the slaughterhouse in Korea and they have researched when they last raced, etc. Some are broodmares and young animals being dumped, others are straight off the track within days. I am sure others are given away to other homes and end up in the pipeline much like horses here. After the investigations were done and it gained a lot of attention, the Korean racing authority no longer shares reports of the names and number of racehorses ending up in the food chain, among other things.

@msewhite my post was not implying that there isn’t anyone in Puerto Rico trying to do right by the horses. I am aware of Kelley Stobie and the Aftercare efforts there. However, my statement remains true. A lot of the horses Kelley deals with are in need of serious TLC. My hope is that with her efforts things begin to change there but again, why are the racing groups not doing more for these horses. At the end of the day, without Kelley’s efforts, things would still be par for the course on the island and there would be serious neglect and frequent euthanasia; and our people in this country continue to turn a blind eye and sell horses to the island to race. Nothing has changed there is Kelley became involved except for caring previous connections stepping up to the plate and paying for horses to return here.

The Sales companies are a corporate entity built on selling bloodstock and sourcing out potential buyers to put money in their pockets. At the end of the day, I dont think these sale companies honestly care where the horses end up much like the regular backyard auctions anywhere else. As for the consignors, they’ve accepted the risk by selling their animal in the market. But I still don’t understand how some can sleep at night knowing where these horses go.

Many breeders do actively instruct to contact them if in need (set out on the papers.).

2 Likes

Why would they be expected to? If by “racing groups” you mean people whose business is racing horses, just look at their track records (no pun intended). Look at all the stories of trainers cheating their employees on pay. Look at the stories of racehorses being given illegal drugs. There are a lot of racing people who don’t care a hoot about racehorses other than as money-makers. Why would they be expected to suddenly care about them when they can no longer run?

Keeneland Sales, Fasig Tipton, OBS etc… have no say in where the horses consigned to their sales end up, they can’t have, it’s the owners call.

Yes, they are businesses. The goal of any business is to perform a service, to employ people and to make a profit (or “put money in their pockets” as you call it.)

I don’t understand your sudden hostility toward the big TB auction houses because some owners/breeders sell to buyers outside of North America.

TBs end up on trucks to Mexico all the time, and though the U.S. industry is trying to do better, and is making progress, you can’t yet be pointing fingers at other nations.

3 Likes

You are of course correct. Besides the Thoroughbred industry is just that–an industry-- not a rescue. Traditionally horses are sold at auction to the highest bidder and that is the way it is all over the world. Americans go to other countries and buy horses at auctions too. The last thing anyone should want is some kind of tariff in place to make it harder (or even outright prevent) persons of certain countries from fairly and freely purchasing the horses they want that match the money they have.

It is all well and good for people on the sidelines becoming fans of horses and following them from the auction house to the racetrack. But fans don’t own those horses and really they should recognize that IMO. We are not talking about animal abuse here. This is just aimed at people/countries that participate in world wide bloodstock based on what may happen to the horses in the future and that is unfair to the buyers. It is really unfair to the auction houses.

3 Likes