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Trying to buy off the track

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  • Trying to buy off the track

    A bit of a rant here. This is the second time this has happened. The first time, I looked at a horse. He had a couple of things I wanted a vet to look at. Told the agent I'd buy the horse if it vetted. Set up an appointment, but the vet rescheduled and in the two days between, the horse was sold out from under me. So we come to the second horse (same owner, same agent.) I look at it yesterday morning. I had looked it up on equibase and although I like the horse, but it did have a 10 month lay-off in 09, and another 5 months (and a change of ownership) before his last race.. I ask about it, but she says that the horse has been passed around so much no one knows. But it's had one trainer since it started running, (at the same track) and was just sold to the new owner/trainer. So I tell her I'll call her. I get home and ask DH if it's ok to get another horse. Call her back around noon - no answer, so I ask her to call me. She never called. Call again this morning. No reply. So I look at her page today (noonish), and the horse is gone. Now I know that the money takes the horse, but wouldn't it be polite to give me a heads up? I think I'm done with horses off the track.

  • #2
    Aw, I'm sorry. Have you tried buying through CANTER or New Vocations? I've heard nothing but praise for both and currently own a horse who was listed through CANTER, although that is not what I purchased him through as he has had a complicated life, lol.
    Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't think the track works the way we're used to as far as sales. Nor probably should it. They're trying to move stock that is done with their discipline and taking up space that could be making money, so absolutely cash-in-hand and trailer waiting is the way to go. There's no reason for a track trainer to go out of their way to make a sale when the money on retiring horses is poor and there's no bearing on their reputation in their sphere. Don't give up! Just try to be really expedient with your transaction when you know you like the horse, and when things work out you will know you have the right horse.

      Comment


      • #4
        Sorry to hear that you missed out on two horses. When I got my mare, the trainer originally told me to call him back in two weeks, as she was scheduled to race, but the volunteers at the track said they thought that was a little weird, and I ended up getting her two days later...not two weeks. Cash is king at the track, and if you can get the money there first, you'll end up with the horse. Unfortunately, I don't think it's about what's polite and what's not- track people just do it a little differently
        Perhaps you could look into Canter like AppyGoLucky has suggested? Good luck!

        Comment


        • #5
          I am very sorry you've had such bad experiences. I know of an owner and a trainer in CA at a racetrack who I have nothing but good things to say about, if they're in your area I can give you names/numbers.

          At the racetrack, money talks. Time is money, and usually at the smaller tracks, no one has much of either. Cash discounts are common (no really, we paid for my horse in cash. A HORSE. In cash.) . As are deals done within the space of days. Really, they want someone to come, watch a horse go in a morning workout, have the track vet it ASAP, and the day after (or hours after) the vetting give a definite yes or no. This is because every day that horse is sitting in the barn without the prospect of any races in the near future is money down the drain for the owner (and, at times, when the owner won't pay any more, the trainer).

          This is what we encountered at the racetrack when we bought a horse directly from an owner there. We did have a few more grace days due to Christmas, but it was still a snap decision.

          I am sorry about your bad experiences, but if you want to have time to think, and have your vet come out to see the horse, pat it, maybe lead it around, a horse from a racetrack rescue would be perfect for you.
          I wish you luck in horse shopping, remember, this is supposed to be FUN!

          Comment


          • #6
            I buy off the track and that is often how it works. The good ones can go very quickly. No one is going to hold a horse for you so you can get your vet out to vet it. I show up with cash in my pocket and horse trailer ready. Any little problem means I pass on the horse. Badly behaved, any soreness, puffy ankles, bad feet, not yet gelded, any mysterious NQR thing... I pass on a lot of the ones I go look at. But, if I like the horse, I hand over the cash and put it on my trailer. If I want to have a vet look at the horse, he's got to come look at it pretty much immediately.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks for the replies. I do realize that they want to move them quickly. I just figured that on the first horse, since it was the track vet that was supposed to look at the horse, he might hold off a couple of days - unless of course, he knew the horse wouldn't pass. And I guess on this last one, just the fact that I asked why the two longish layoffs was enough for them to get it to someone else. And you're all correct that I'm not used to looking at a horse walk down the aise, maybe a little tight trot 'cause he's high on himself, and hope that he doesn't have something that I can't see. I guess I'm just too cautious.

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              • #8
                I just started buying straight off the track in Dec. It was a very different horse buying experience. I'm lucky I had some great folks helping me find my way, but it was still a gamble. While I'm sure it's not impossible, I think it's pretty difficult to be that cautious. Adding a vetting into an already packed schedule can be pretty difficult for these folks. Try CANTER.
                "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer
                http://dressagescriblog.wordpress.com/

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                • #9
                  Try working through CANTER. The volunteers there know the horses, know the trainers and can help you find a horse that's suitable.

                  But as others have said, in general the track is a place where you show up with money in your pocket and your trailer attached to your truck!
                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Brooke View Post
                    Thanks for the replies. I do realize that they want to move them quickly. I just figured that on the first horse, since it was the track vet that was supposed to look at the horse, he might hold off a couple of days - unless of course, he knew the horse wouldn't pass. And I guess on this last one, just the fact that I asked why the two longish layoffs was enough for them to get it to someone else. And you're all correct that I'm not used to looking at a horse walk down the aise, maybe a little tight trot 'cause he's high on himself, and hope that he doesn't have something that I can't see. I guess I'm just too cautious.
                    I doubt it had anything to do with soundness, lack thereof, or their knowledge of any alleged issues. If someone shows up with cash in hand, the horse is going on their truck that day. The trainers have no idea who you are, whether you would actually take the horse even if it did pass the vet, or find some other reason to back out, leaving them with a horse that is costing them a ton of money to have at the track taking up a stall.

                    If you want to see a track horse do something other than walk/trot up and down the shedrow, you have to go watch morning workouts. There is practically no trainer that is going to hold a horse for you to "vet"... you have to be comfortable determining potential issues for yourself and figure out what you can or can't live with. If you don't have the stomach for making a quick decision, it is ok, but buying directly from a trainer isn't going to be the way for you to find an OTTB. They are cheap directly off the track because of the risk you are taking.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The track is all business and they no more will hold one then your grocery store will. They consider the horse a commodity or livestock that has to move to make way for others-and they don't hold them pending a PPE. If yu want it, you take it with you. No returns.

                      If you are not in a position to make a snap decision based on watching it walk, or jig, up and down the aisle try hooking up with a track worker-like somebody who gallops them in the morning and enlist their help. These people know what's going on with whom and are well worth a bit of money.

                      If that is not possible, I would look elsewhere. CANTER has alot of listings that are for sale with no strings and located both on and off the track-but bring the trailer and cash if they are at the track even with these. Every day that non productive horse takes up that stall, the trainer loses a day rate he could get with another.
                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yep, some tracks charge board per day - so the faster a horse can move the better. If you are seriously considering buying right from the track, bring a vet with you when you look at the horse (with digital rad setup) and be prepared to pay and take the horse then and there. The good ones go VERY fast. Even waiting a few hours could mean you lose out on a horse.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This post brings me back to why I could never buy a horse at the track. There are clearly people who can and should buy at the track and others who should pay them for their expertise. As I get older, I am just so happy that there are people much smarter than me and people much more capable at doing the things that I am not very good at doing.

                          To all of you who buy at the track-thank you ! And I do love Canter.

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                          • #14
                            I have bought exclusively off-track TBs for the last ten years and I mean off the track, out of the track barn. The key is having a trainer or owner who knows the horses and can tell you up front if the horse is sound. Then you go look, load and leave. I have never had one vetted because she knows the horse, its past and the trainer and whether they are honest about the horse and its condition. I have never brought home anything with issues. So if you can make a friend like that it will be invaluable. Otherwise, CANTER is the route Ii'd take. Good luck and don't give up!! There are so many NICE horses at tracks that just need a way out!
                            SPAY/NEUTER/RESCUE/ADOPT!
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                            • #15
                              The track sale is far removed from the hunter/jumper sale, and one, I believe, is best left to the knowledgeable/experienced.

                              The race world is one unto itself. Each track is like a small city, encompassing pretty much everything they need.

                              We non-race people are foreigners, and not held to the same standards as the they are as a group, and consequently not fully trusted or liked.

                              Trainers rarely ever PPE internal sales, they do it themselves. I have seen 5/6 figure sales completed in 15 minutes following 5 minutes of poking and prodding of a horse by the purchasing trainer.

                              Transactions are pretty much regulated by the fact that they have their own banking system. If a trainer gives another trainer a check it is probably cashed at the track, and the consequences for writing a bad check could get your license pulled.

                              Consequently when we buy off the track we have to work within the parameters of the track. Sales need to be quick, a PPE is a delay, eats up day rates, if the money is not in their hands the sale questionable, and any delay in moving the horse, again eats up day rates, and more than likely prohibits a money maker from filling that stall.

                              Track sales are generally for those who have a high risk threshold, big risk/ reward, if that is not you, there are plenty of individuals who are willing to take the risk who sell OTTB's in an environment that is slower paced, and allows time for a more thorough evaluation, you will pay some for this compromise, but the prices are still very competitive.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                You have to put yourself in a race trainers shoes to understand some of why this is the way it is.

                                Tracks typically make their money off entries, not charging for stalls ( IIRC many don't), some have waiting lists for available stalls and trainers charge owners a day rate. So, if a trainer has an owner pull the plug on paying day rates and tells him/her to get rid of the horse-that trainer is out $40 every day that horse sits in that stall and the track is on the phone every day wanting to know when they can have that stall.

                                There is no unproductive time built into that where they can wait for a PPE and risk having a buyer decline after holding it and losing the day rate and any income from entries. Five days does not sound like much but $200 lost does, more if the buyer passes.

                                I am pretty good at snap evaluations but I would never go right off the track, I lack that skill set. I'll pay somebody else to do it or buy from them after at least 30 days letdown and a PPE.
                                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Since trainers at the track are used to having horses claimed from them (without any vetting/presale exam etc) they don't see any reason to hold a horse for anyone.
                                  Trainers at the track charge a day rate and every day costs the owner money. Some tracks are charging trainers stall fees and thus for a cheap horse, 2 or 3 days can add up to hundreds and most owners at the lower levels just can't afford that. Remember too, someone might just come along and offer (say) $3k for a horse thats been in for a $5k tag of late with no luck and plan to take him from (say) the mid-Atlantic to maybe Ohio where he can run for $3.5k and maybe win. That is more money that such a horse will typically bring right now from a H/J rider so off he goes.

                                  Track trainers, unless they deal in top quality stock (the kind that gets vetted pre-sale, not sold via claiming) don't really get the whole "I like him...I'd like my trainer/vet/mother/shi-tsu to look at him..." To them, it's a world of "here's the cash, can I keep the halter?" In some cases, the plan is to sell a horse off the track, so they might give you a day or two but in others, it's just another sale so if a racing outfit is buying it's usually "cleaner" and faster and the deal will get done.
                                  CANTER and others are geared to working with trainers specifically lloking to sell a horse to a non racing home and thus are more likely to set you up with trainers more patient and will to wait for the "right situation."
                                  F O.B
                                  Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                                  Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Cash and a knowledgeable trainer or you can do what my trainer does.
                                    Go for the morning work out and bring a video camera. While your walking between horses review the video you got of the horse walk, trot canter either on your phone or camera. Have someone with you to steer you around the various obstacles if you have issues walking and viewing at the same time. She can see 10 horses in one morning and buy immediately cause she has cash and trailer already there. She's also already called ahead to the trainers and those with current rads have already sent them to her to look at via email. Track trainers love her because she's on time, doesn't waste their time and they get cash in their pocket that day. She's also walked away from a horse and networked to find it a home that day because she has video of what the horse looks like moving and can show it when needed. Too much ready technology not to take advantage of it.
                                    Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
                                    Originally Posted by alicen:
                                    What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Linny View Post
                                      "here's the cash, can I keep the halter?"


                                      I forgot about that, bring your own halter or be prepared for a visit to the track tack shop. They aren't sending a nice leather halter with it, or a LEAD ROPE either.
                                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by findeight View Post

                                        I forgot about that, bring your own halter or be prepared for a visit to the track tack shop. They aren't sending a nice leather halter with it, or a LEAD ROPE either.
                                        Lol, yep, Lucky, being shipped to me sight-unseen, got what I'm sure was the oldest leather halter in the barn sent with him (actually overall it's not bad, just the crownpiece needs to sit in a bucket of oil for about a week.) Don't quite see the point of keeping brass nameplates for horses you will never see again, though.

                                        What everyone else has said--time is money. I was very, very lucky that after my first shipper "fell through" (ie took the deposit and disappeared--don't ever use Louis at Double L no matter what he quotes you) Jared was able to hold Lucky a few extra days until the new hauler arrived. Day rates add up and I would bet many, many trainers have run into non-race buyers who dither, say, "Oh, I want to vet," then vanish, don't like the PPE, change their minds, and now they're out not just the sale price but the cost of keeping the horse at the track.
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