Bigger Thoroughbreds Sell Better


"Pedigree, conformation, and the racing performance of siblings are the main selection criteria utilized by buyers to evaluate the athletic potential of Thoroughbred yearlings," said Joe Pagan, PhD, president of Kentucky Equine Research in Versailles, Ky. He also noted a positive correlation between size of a yearling and selling price at the Keeneland September Yearling Sales in Lexington, Ky.

Weight, wither height, and body condition score measurements were taken in late August and early September from 630 yearlings (332 colts and 298 fillies) entered in the auction.

"Of the studied yearlings, 79% (495) were listed as sold and 21% (135) were listed as RNA (reserve not attained)," he explained. The average selling price was $93,922, and the median selling price was $35,000. The average age of the yearlings at sale time was 544 (+/- 37) days. On average, colts were heavier than fillies and taller.

Yearlings that brought bids above the session median were significantly heavier and taller than those below the median.

"Data from this study clearly shows that price is influenced by body size," said Pagan. "Size does matter. Yearlings that commanded higher bids than the median session price tended to be higher at the withers and had a higher body weight, but were not fatter."

About the Author

Marcella M. Reca Zipp, MS

Marcella Reca Zipp, M.S., is a former staff writer for The Horse. She is completing her doctorate in Environmental Education and researching adolescent relationships with horses and nature. She lives with her family, senior horse, and flock of chickens on an island in the Chain O'Lakes.

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