Well, I guess I won’t be a partial owner of Flightline! The 2.5% share in the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner sold for $4.6 million tonight at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. The buyer, represented by Freddie Seitz of Brookdale Farm, remained anonymous. Bidding started at $500,000 on Monday and went up in increments of $100,000, took place onsite, by phone, online and, in a first-of-its-kind, a metaverse experience, which gave viewers an up-close look at the auction from a virtual sales ring modeled on Keeneland’s setting. Based on the value of the share, that puts Flightline’s value at a jaw-dropping $184 million.
“It’s a family from out west, some good clients of ours for a few years now,” Seitz said. “He was really excited about this horse, and just wanted to make a big splash, and get more involved in the business. He’s dealt with some nice horses in the past, but nothing like this one.”
Is any horse worth $184 million? Certainly, Flightline has made many people excited about horse racing again. The colt who came back from a serious injury along with Rich Strike winning the Derby and Cody’s Wish winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, there have been some fan-pleasing stories — much needed in an industry that’s had too many scandals of late.
It would have been nice to see Flightline run a few more times but the economics of the racing keep valuable older horses from running when they have stud value. Most of the big purse money is aimed at 3-year-olds, with notable exceptions such as the Breeders’ Cup, the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup Flightline will turn 5 next year.
“The biggest thing that people don’t understand is the insurance you must buy,” Elliott Walden, of WinStar Farm, told The Times last year. “If you take a horse that’s worth $20 million, your insurance to keep him in training is 4% for mortality. That’s a lot of money to put out and then have to earn back at a rate of 60% of the purse, and that doesn’t even count what you pay jockeys and trainers.
“It’s just hard economically to keep those horses in training. Our purse structure is loaded to 3-year-olds [and the Triple Crown.]”Elliott Walden, WinStar Farm, Principal owner of justify in the LA Times.
If you conservatively estimate Flightline’s value at $60 million, it would cost $2.4 million in insurance payments with few races that could collectively pay out that amount of money in purses.
Flightline’s retirement was announced shortly after the Breeders’ Cup. The colt has already settled in at Lane’s End Farm. His stud fee has not yet been announced.