Breeze Times, Sale Prices, and Racetrack Performance

Stowe and Robert found that a horse’s breeze time is the most statistically significant factor in explaining auction prices.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Jill Stowe, PhD, associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Agricultural Economics, and Marion Robert, former MS student in agricultural economics and current PhD student at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, teamed up to investigate factors that explain prices paid for 2-year-old Thoroughbreds sold at undertack sales, with a focus on breeze times’ influence on auction prices.

In their study they used data from all 2013 U.S. Thoroughbred 2-year-old in training sales. While many academic studies have focused on price analysis in yearling markets, the 2-year-old market is one that researchers have not yet investigated. This market is different from the more common yearling market for a few reasons. First, the 2-year-old in training auctions occur just a few months prior to a horse’s first start on the racetrack. Second, and the focal point of this study, is that before interested buyers bid on the horse, they have the opportunity to watch the horse “breeze,” or run a short distance on a racetrack that is timed. Breeze times provide a new type of relevant information to potential buyers prior to the sale, in addition to the horse’s action and running style.

Stowe and Robert found that a horse’s breeze time is the most statistically significant factor in explaining auction prices. All else equal, the estimated market value for a horse’s ability to run a furlong one-fifth of a second faster is about $8,000 at select sales and about $24,000 at nonselect sales, which translates to averages of about $40,000 and $120,000, respectively, for a horse that can run a furlong 1 second faster.

Other factors known to be important in explaining yearling prices were also influential in determining 2-year-old prices, such as whether the horse was born earlier in the year or whether the horse was sold at a select sale. Pedigree quality was also important, with sire stud fee and dam produce records entering into the pricing equation. One additional result of interest is the significant premium (nearly $30,000) buyers are willing to pay for horses by freshman sires, which suggests recovery in the market when buyers become willing take risks on progeny from sires of unknown producing quality.

The paper is titled “Ready to Run: Price Determinants of Thoroughbreds from Two-Year-Olds in Training Sales” and is forthcoming in a future issue of Applied Economics.

Jill Stowe, PhD, associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Agricultural Economics, provided this information.


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