03/14/2002 12:00AM

It's mergermania in world of consignors


LEXINGTON, Ky. - In the last several weeks, some important players in the Thoroughbred auction world have announced they will work together in joint consignments at public sales.

Taylor Made, one of the nation's largest consigning agents, has become a partner in Paramount Sales, it informed its clients this week. Paramount emerged at the 2001 Keeneland October yearling sale under the leadership of Drumkenny Farm owner Pat Costello and Gabriel Duignan, president of Dr. Tony Ryan's Castleton Lyons Farm in Lexington. Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds, which is headed by Olin Gentry, also is involved in Paramount and is shifting its consignment focus from weanlings to yearlings.

In late February, Four Star Sales was formed by Walmac International owner Johnny T. L. Jones Jr.; the farm's legal counsel, Kerry Cauthen; Glencrest Farm owner David Greathouse; and Kentucky-based bloodstock agent Dan Kenny. The new company intends to offer horses at major select sales, beginning with the Keeneland July selected yearling sale this summer.

Merged agencies can give consignors pooled resources without the need to give up private deals.

At Four Star, for example, the partners will share a central office and staff. They will continue operating their individual businesses, but when it comes to selling horses at public auction, they will all sell through Four Star, according to Cauthen, who is Four Star's managing partner.

There are advantages to pooling resources. On an efficiency level, the group saves overhead costs on everything from office rent to bookkeeping and other secretarial jobs. Perhaps more importantly, by working together under one banner a group of consignors also gains access to a larger client base.

"As a team, we cover different geographical areas," Cauthen said. "Dan is well known in Ontario and around Canada; Johnny draws from Texas and the south; and David is a Kentuckian. They all draw from different areas and work well with different groups of people. I think that allows us to offer more."

For Paramount managing officer Pat Costello, the advantages of teaming up with Castleton Lyons, Taylor Made, and Gaines-Gentry are clear, starting with access to high-quality bloodstock that can attract bidders.

"Taylor Made brings their powerful knowledge of selling and their client base," Costello said. "Dr. Ryan is going to be a force at the top end of the Thoroughbred industry within the next couple of years, and he'd like a professional sales team to sell horses for him - and it's all the better if he can own a piece of that company. It's the same thing with Gaines-Gentry."

Taylor Made will continue to sell horses in its own consignments but expects to benefit from investing in Paramount. First, any financial success Paramount has will enrich Taylor Made, and, second, the enormous Taylor Made operation, which handles hundreds of horses during the auction year, can make referrals to Paramount as needed.

"We've gotten together with three other people in the industry that we respect and that we think have the potential to do more business with Taylor Made," said Taylor Made's Mark Taylor. "By doing this, we help create a competitor for Taylor Made, but there's new competition coming into the market every year anyway. This way, we have an agency that in certain circumstances will sell where we aren't planning to sell, and they can help us place horses that we don't have a spot for."

Barretts adds a day to 2-year-old sale

Barretts Equine Limited, the Thoroughbred auction house in Pomona, Calif., will add a day to its May sale of 2-year-olds in training and will feature dispersals from the Bart Heller estate and the Cavanaugh Family Trust.

The May sale, which ran just one day last year, is set for May 13-14 at the Fairplex pavilion in Pomona. This year's catalog includes more than 400 horses, including 50 from the Heller estate and 26 from Cavanaugh Family Trust.

The estate of Bart Heller, who died of a heart attack last August, will offer 21 horses of racing age, 14 juveniles, and 15 yearlings. Highlighting the consignment are multiple stakes-winner Spinelessjellyfish, a 6-year-old son of Skywalker; Grade 3-placed stakes-winner Mellow Fellow, a 7-year-old Belek gelding; and Sea to See, a 4-year-old Al Mamoon colt who also is a Grade 3-placed stakes-winner.

The Cavanaugh dispersal will include 18 horses of racing age and eight 2-year-olds.