The famous Saratoga racetrack is closed now; its season ended after Labor Day. But just down the street, the Fasig-Tipton auction pavilion was bustling with its fall mixed sale.
Surprisingly, any ordinary schmoe can wander in to this event and get quite close to all of the action.
Yup, this close.
Okay, duly noted.
There were pregnant brood mares, like this beauty, below, and some horses of racing age.
And there were fillies and colts, born earlier this year.
His response was, "Maybe you should become a pinhooker." This rather startled me.
"Excuse me?" I said.
He laughed and explained that a pinhooker was someone who bought young horses as weanlings, planning to keep them only a short time. Then they re-sell the young horses later, hoping to make a profit.
I'd never heard of this before.
Two mares shortly after these, one of them a real looker who tugged at my heart strings, brought no bids at all.
Why was this, I asked my patient neighbor. Why would no one want a pregnant thoroughbred for $1000? Two horses for the price of one!
Because no one has confidence in the mare or the bloodline of the foal she's carrying, he told me. The pinhookers don't want them because they can't see the foal. And the mare is getting older. Too risky.
I was surprised. I thought $1000 for a pedigreed mare in foal was an amazing deal.
Ah, my neighbor told me. But the price of the mare is only the beginning!
Well, yes, I know that.
"The owner would probably give you the horse right now," he added. "It's just a financial drain at this point."
I thought this was a good time for me to leave.
My mind was already reeling. How could I get it home? Where could I board it?
No, this was dangerous territory. Definitely time to vamoose.
Pinhooking and free, unwanted thoroughbreds. Who knew?
See more here: http://www.drf.com/news/fasig-tipton-catalogs-279-saratoga-fall-mixed-sale
and here: http://www.fasigtipton.com/catalogues/2013/Saratoga-Fall-Mixed-and-Horses-of-Racing-Age/Saratoga-Fall-Mixed-and-Horses-of-Racing-Age-new.asp