07/11/2014 2:37PM

Heerman, prominent bloodstock agent, dies at 89


Noted bloodstock agent Victor Heerman Jr. died July 2 at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., The Blood-Horse reports. He was 89.

Heerman’s influence touched several aspects of the Thoroughbred industry, from helping innovate the showing process prior to sales, to raising and selling Horse of the Year Spectacular Bid as the owner of Buck Pond Farm, to selling a then-world-record-priced yearling in 1980.

The son of a Hollywood screenwriter and director, Heerman served in the U.S. Army during World War II and graduated from Williams College. Heerman got his start in the Thoroughbred business during his college years by working summers at Calumet Farm, among other major operations, and later returned to California to start his own farm.

In 1960, Heerman co-founded the Caldwell-Heerman Sales Co. in California with auctioneer Tom Caldwell. The auction house served as a predecessor to the modern-day Barretts Sales Co.

Heerman went back to Kentucky in 1973, purchasing Buck Pond Farm in Versailles, Ky., with business partner Susan Proskauer. His most notable achievement was perhaps foaling and raising dual classic winner Spectacular Bid at Buck Pond and sending the yearling through the Keeneland auction ring in fall 1977 as agent for breeders Madelyn Jason and Mrs. William Gilmore.

“I’ve been in the business 30 years,” Heerman said in a 1979 article printed in Stars and Stripes shortly after Spectacular Bid’s Kentucky Derby win, “and I like to think I’ve had some success in it. I always hoped for a horse like this, and I thought that if I ever got one I might command some respect as a horseman. So now that I planned this mating and bred the colt and raised him, everybody says, ‘If he knew anything about what he was doing, he never would have sold the horse.’”

Other notable runners sent through the ring by Heerman include Triptych, a champion in England, Ireland, and France; and Golden Fleece, winner of the 1982 Epsom Derby and a champion in England and Ireland.

In 1980, Heerman was the consignor of a Lyphard colt that sold for a then-record yearling price of $1.7 million at the Keeneland July sale. The colt, later named Lichine, went on to become a Group 3-placed stakes winner in France.

Heerman is survived by his daughter, Leslie Heerman, and two granddaughters. His wife of 59 years, Lucille Mills Heerman, died last year.