Courtesy of the TDN

No-Breeze Consignment Concept Will Be Back in 2019

Kip Elser | Horsephotos

By T. D. Thornton

After auctioning five juveniles this past spring without sending the horses hard in timed under-tack breezes, the aptly named Gulfstream Gallop LLC had already been planning to give the concept a go again in 2019.

But when the first filly to start from that consignment wired a Del Mar MSW field on Aug. 18 by 5 3/4 lengths, it only emboldened agent Kip Elser of Kirkwood Stables to be on the hunt for a slightly higher class of yearlings–and potential new sales partners–to expand upon the concept of focusing on the juveniles themselves and not on the clock.

Splashy Kisses (Blame), a $30,000 purchase out of last year’s Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase sale, sold for $100,000 at FTFMAR to Dennis O’Neill on behalf of ERJ Racing. Trained by Dennis’s brother, Doug O’Neill, she debuted eighth on July 18 at Del Mar, then flashed strong speed straight from the gate in a six-furlong sprint to win start number two for owners ERJ Racing LLC and Dave Kenney this past Saturday.

“She ran opening day, got a good schooling, and came right back and did what she was supposed to,” Elser said via phone from Saratoga earlier this week. “Kudos to Dennis, and everyone else who had the courage of their convictions to buy a horse without seeing them breezing back in the spring.”

Elser, speaking on behalf of the silent partner who came up with the idea for eschewing the current convention of participating in the one- or two-furlong pre-sale breezes, noted that of the five yearlings the group purchased specifically for that purpose, four sold at the Fasig-Tipton sale at Gulfstream in March and one was bought back and later re-sold at Fasig’s Timonium sale.

“We are definitely going to do it again,” Elser said. “My original client just bought the first horse at the Fasig July sale, and we’re just now putting together another group to go ahead and do it again. I think there’s room in the market to expand it somewhat. We’re right now just at the start of trying to seek out a few new partners, and I’m excited about expanding it.”

The new partners could mean that Kirkwood will represent a second group of sellers separate from the initial Gulfstream Gallop venture, the founder of which wishes to continue as a silent entity.

“He doesn’t want credit or blame. He loves the game, and he was very brave to come up with the idea in the first place. He just wants to enjoy it and do it privately,” Elser said.

The consignment’s second starter, Irish Hustle (Data Link), was also a $30,000 FTKTUR buy. She resold for $65,000 at FTFMAR and debuted with a 10th-place finish in a Monday MSW turf sprint at Saratoga.

“[Trainer] Bret Calhoun ran his filly here at Saratoga [Monday]. She’s trained very well, and her trip [Monday] was not too far off Splashy Kisses’ first start,” Elser said. “But everybody that I’ve talked to is pleased with the progress of their horses, and we’re looking to a big fall out of the five of them. They’re spread around the country, and we’ll let them go out and prove themselves.”

Elser was asked what he learned from the first go-round of non-breezing juveniles that might change what he does the second time around.

“It’s definitely contrarian,” he said. “I’ve gotten nothing but a positive response out of it. But any time you do something a little different, it’s actually more retrospective than new. I think we pretty much got it right the first time. I might try to ratchet the purchases up a notch.”