LQHBA Yearling Sale Aug. 8-9
Louisiana-bred runners are provided lots of racing opportunity
By Martha Claussen | July 15, 2014
The Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders' Association (LQHBA) is proudly promoting its 38th annual Louisiana Bred Yearling Sale, citing the benefits of buying a future racehorse in Louisiana. And why not? Each of the sale grads is eligible to compete in a seven-figure futurity, and with overnight purses fueled by slot revenue, there is upside even at the maiden and allowance levels.
This year's sale will take place on Friday, August 8, and Saturday, August 9, at the Coushatta Casino Resort Pavilion in Kinder, Louisiana. The catalog lists 534 yearlings and horsemen all over the country are marking their prospects.
Tony Patterson is the current executive director of LQHBA with long time director, Leverne Perry, named as executive director emeritus.
"The interest in our sale has been very encouraging," said Patterson. "We sent over 3,500 catalogs to prospective buyers in many regions of the United States as well as Canada and Mexico."
The LQHBA is the official registry of accredited Louisiana-bred Quarter Horses. They run two sales each year, the LQHBA Yearling Sale and a Fall Mixed Sale.
Louisiana is the leading state-bred program in the country with over $4.65 million dollars in mare and stallion awards paid in 2013. Patterson projects that the total will increase in 2015.
"In addition to our breeders' incentives, horsemen have a lot of money to run for in Louisiana, added Patterson. "This year there are 148 guaranteed Quarter Horse race dates at Delta, Evangeline, Louisiana Downs and Fair Grounds with approximately $23 million in purses."
Last year, 523 yearlings were cataloged and organizers noted a 29 percent increase in gross receipts from 2012.
LQHBA reported 367 yearlings sold for $3,810,450, compared to 335 yearlings sold in 2012 for $2,962,600. The average rose 17 percent to $10,383 in 2013 as compared to $8,844 in 2012. The median of $6,200 was up 9 percent over the $5,700 figure in 2012.
Several yearlings topped the $100,000 mark, beginning with a record-breaking $150,000 transaction on the first day of Heza Secret Dash, to Flying G Racing. The colt was consigned by Robicheaux Ranch Inc. JCM Catchacorona, a full brother to 2012 LQHBA Futurity (RG1) winner Open Me A Corona, sold for $115,000 with Mike and Mary Ellen Hickman signing the ticket. He was consigned by Tate Farms, agent for Montgomery Equine Center.
Heza Fast Dash led all sale sires, by average with two or more sold, with 45 yearlings for an average of $23,262. Game Patriot had 31 yearlings at a $21,042 average, and Coronas Leaving You saw 17 head average $18,388.
Since 2010, over 500 yearlings have been cataloged annually in the LQHBA Yearling Sale with gross sales between $2.4 and $2.9 million. There was growth in 2012 with total sales of $2,962,200 with the sale topper, a Jess Louisiana Blue colt, sold for $56,000. The average price paid was $8,844 versus $8,241 in 2011.
Robicheaux Ranch LLC has been one of the biggest consignors for the LQHBA Yearling Sale. Their impressive stallion roster includes Heza Fast Dash, Game Patriot, Jet Black Patriot, Toast to Dash, First Down Illusion and One Handsome Man.
Ryan Robicheaux serves as sale coordinator for the farm, which is owned by his parents, Jude and Regina.
Robicheaux, 34, reports that 99 Robicheaux Ranch yearlings will be shipped to Kinder, the second-highest number in the family's 14-year association with the LQHBA Yearling Sale.
"We have been fortunate over the years with loyal customers and a great association with the LQHBA," said Robicheaux. "Some people think that racing is the 'Sport of Kings', but there are great horses in the yearling sale that don't cost a fortune."
Larry Findley D.V.M. is president of LQHBA and has been involved in the Yearling Sale since 1983.
"We are very proud of the growth of our sale," said Findley. "There is so much money to run at in Louisiana with our flagship million dollar futurity. Our future plans include more incentives for older horses as well."
Native Louisiana horseman Chris Blanchet operates a full-service farm in Ville Platte and will prepare 50 yearlings for the 2014 Louisiana Bred Yearling Sale.
"This sale has really improved in the last five years," said Blanchet. "It's not just about the numbers; the overall credential of the horses reflects really good stock. I believe that the quality of our sale is as good as any. We've shown it in the All American with JLS Mr Bigtime and Jet Black Patriot"
History has proven that stakes winners have come from a modest investment, and with overnight purses fueled by slot revenue, owners can reap profits even if they do not have a stakes-caliber horse.
"As a trainer, some of my 2-year-olds are too immature to run early," adds Blanchet. "Purses in Louisiana are still very good for older horses."
Findley, as a well-respected veterinarian and equine surgeon, is a proponent of opportunities for older horses.
LQHBA board members agreed, so beginning in 2015, the LQHBA will add a key racing event for 3-year-olds. The $150,000-added LQHBA Breeders Derby will take place at Evangeline Downs in conjunction with the $1 million Breeders Futurity.
"I'm a big advocate of running horses later," Findley states. "I would love to see horses run until they are 6-8 years old. That to me, is important for our sport."
One of the out-of-state buyers in 2012 was Florida businessman and rancher Steve Holland. He and Bill McIntosh purchased Ol Time Preacher Man for $20,000. The son of Heza Fast Dash out of the Streakin La Jolla mare JJStreakin Illusion was bred in Louisiana by Jo Baya Foreman.
"We were interested in him because of his daddy and mama," said Holland. "Plus, I also liked his name."
The sorrel gelding was sent to top Quarter Horse conditioner Kenneth Roberts Sr. With veteran rider Danny Lavergne in the irons, he proved his mettle last November in the $1 million LQHBA Breeders' Futurity (RG1), picking up a check for $445,000.
There was more praying than preaching when racing officials were closely scrutinizing a photo finish between Ol Time Preacher Man and longshot First Prize Jet.
"It seemed like an eternity," stated Holland. "When I got back home and watched the replay, I timed it and it was five minutes and 20 seconds!"
Holland and his team were elated with the victory in the biggest state-bred futurity in North America.
"It was a real thrill and a long time coming," said Holland. "I usually spend $45,000 and make $20!"
Graduates from the LQHBA Yearling Sale continue to make their mark, not just in Louisiana, but on the national racing scene.
The 2009 LQHBA Sale had one of its biggest stars in JLS Mr Bigtime, who quietly passed through the sale ring as hip number No. 91 and was re-purchased for $19,000. The gelding son of Bigtime Favorite is approaching the $1 million mark in career earnings with a second-place finish in the 2010 All American Futurity (G1), which had a purse of $1.9 million.
Jet Black Patriot was another outstanding sale graduate, re-purchased by Janelle and Richard Simon for $20,000 at the 2007 LQHBA Yearling Sale. The stunning black colt quickly garnered attention as a 2-year-old, winning the $545,649 LQHBA Breeders' Futurity in 2008 and finishing second to Stolis Winner in the $2 million All American Futurity (G1). He retired with earnings of $876,921 and has followed his success on the racetrack with a highly promising stud career. Jet Black Patriot was the second-ranked AQHA second-crop sire in 2013. His progeny have already topped the million dollar mark this year.
On July 12, Delta Downs closed its meet with Louisiana Showcase Night featuring eight stakes including the $645,645 Lee Berwick Futurity (RG1).
The 350-yard Lee Berwick Futurity victory went to the aptly named Game, who closed tenaciously under jockey Orlando Baldillez. Owner Joseph Landreneau purchased the son of Game Patriot out of the Hotdoggin mare Hot Charge in the 2013 LQHBA Sale for just $12,000. The Kelli Smith trainee won the $265,285 Louisiana Laddie Futurity (RG2) on May 24, and with his Lee Berwick earnings of $322,822, Game is on the brink of a half a million dollars in career earnings.
Perhaps one of the most astute purchases in recent sale history came in 2012 when Jaime Torres purchased FJR Bread N Butter for just $8,500 from breeder Ricky John Broussard. One year later, the gelded son of Heza Fast Dash won the $564,895 Lee Berwick Futurity (RG1) in a track record setting performance.
It's not just the juvenile stars that make a great case for purchasing a future star at the LQHBA Yearling Sale.
Oscar Rohne signed a $8,200 ticket on Kool Design in the 2012 LQHBA Yearling Sale. The striking chestnut son of First N Kool made only two starts as a 2-year-old, with both his owner and trainer, Kenneth Roberts Sr. feeling that he needed time to mature and develop. Their patience was rewarded on July 12 when Kool Design, at odds of 40-1, pulled the upset in the $217,545 Delta Downs Louisiana-bred Derby (RG2). It's safe to say that he will continue to add to his career bankroll of $144,736.
Fast Talkin Henry captured the $100,000 Louisiana Classic (RG2) for older horses. Owner Eric P. Johnson purchased Fast Talkin Henry from breeder Russell Moward at the 2011 LQHBA Yearling Sale for $16,500. He has won seven of his 14 starts with $313,824 earned to date.
The sale has experienced phenomenal growth since its inception in 1977. The first sale, held at Delta Downs offered 39 yearlings; and on August 8th and 9th, 534 accredited Louisiana-bred yearlings will pass through the sale ring.
Officials have been extremely pleased with the Coushatta Casino Resort Pavilion venue, which offers first-rate lodging, dining and gaming.
The sale will include online coverage, and for the first time, an interpreter for Spanish-speaking attendees.
"We work hard each year to improve our sale and do the best job of accommodating the owners," adds Findley.
With the continued success and depth of the breeding program in Louisiana, future stars of racing are just one bid away.
"You just have to do your homework and have a little luck," acknowledges Robicheaux. "There are good stories behind every yearling."
The breeders have done their job; prospective buyers will have over 500 chances to purchase the next great Louisiana champion!
Martha Claussen served as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park for ten years. She continues to be active in writing, fan education and Quarter Horse racing publicity in Texas, Louisiana and other regions in North America.
AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, watch the AQHA Racing Newscast and visit www.aqharacing.com.