There exists no braver person in the history of American commerce than the pinhooker of Thoroughbred racehorses. He deals in the worst perishable commodity imaginable. He buys raw material (yearlings or weanlings), seeks to improve them, furnish them out and sell them later - usually in two-year-old sales - at a profit, of course.
If he buys 20 yearlings - let's say - typically he loses money on eight, makes a little profit on another eight, and scores nicely on four. It is not a game for the faint hearted. And the present crop, for the most part, were bought high and are selling low.
At the recent Ocala Breeders Two-Year-Old sale I bought five… and I wish I could have bought five more. It was a buyer's market to put it mildly… with the sale average off 33.7 percent. But this is perhaps a good time to proceed tentatively. A low tide drops all boats.
It was refreshing in Ocala to see rules restricting the use of whips in their public preview prior to the sale. It is disgusting to see riders whipping young horses in an effort to squeeze another fifth of a second off their published workout time.
I fear I was once inadvertently guilty of such a transgression. Years ago - for several seasons - I was a pinhooker. I took a consignment of two-year-olds to the Florida sales in Miami. In those days if you had a horse with some pedigree (and I did not), that horse simply galloped into the sale. A modestly bred colt or filly needed to demonstrate some speed in order to sell well.
On the morning of the preview I told my riders, "Any work that shades 23 seconds gets a hundred bucks for the rider." What a disaster. When those babies hit the quarter pole you never saw such whipping and slashing. After the first set - sales horses used to work in pairs back then - I was horrified and attempted to put some controls on the use of the whip in upcoming sets. But, I couldn't rescind my $100 offer and I fear the Dogwood consignment ended up with an embarrassing reputation.
Those few years as a two-year-old consignor helped teach me a lesson that has stood me in good stead ever since: concentrate on what you know how to do. These two-year-olds I am collecting now at the sales will soon enough demonstrate my know-how as a buyer. And as usual I am optimistic. Hope springs eternal. You know the old racetrack adage: "No one ever committed suicide with an untried two-year-old in the barn."
This is Cot Campbell and this is my view.