02/10/2017 1:40PM

Watershed Bloodstock finally tries Fasig-Tipton Kentucky

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Tracey and Clay Caudill have been selling horses for nearly half a decade under the Watershed Bloodstock banner, with their farm located just 10 easy miles from the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Lexington, Ky.

Despite the proximity, the recent Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale was the consignment’s maiden voyage at a Kentucky auction.

While the Caudills sell most of their horses privately, they took the long way around to their local auction market, hanging their shingle first at regional sites, including the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. and Equine Sales Co. of Louisiana. With a handful of mares sporting competitive pedigrees left to move at the end of the mixed auction season, the time had come to sell locally.

“This is a good opportunity,” Tracey Caudill said prior to the auction. “This sale is a working man’s sale. It’s a good spot to get in.”

Originally based in Georgetown, Ky., the Caudills’ equine operation outgrew its surroundings, which led them to buy the property christened Watershed Farm in 2012. In addition to boarding, mare leasing, and sales consignment, Watershed Farm has developed into a quarantine facility that prepares nearly 400 horses for export each year.

Being a relatively new operation gave the Caudills an opportunity to set their own traditions, a necessary step to stand out on the crowded sale grounds.

That mind-set is apparent in the scenery at the Watershed Bloodstock consignment. The opening to its shed row was flanked by two faux stone pillars modeled after those at the gates of Watershed Farm.

At last year’s OBS August yearling sale, Caudill took the changes a step further and replaced the traditional stall cards that identify the horses in the barns with high-definition televisions. In addition to the standard identifying information, the monitors showed the offerings’ conformation photos, walk videos, and pertinent race footage on a loop.

Caudill said the decision to use the monitors was a way to better engage with a younger generation of buyers seeking more information, and they have done a good job drawing attention to the barn. She said the decision was also more cost-effective than one might expect.

“You can now buy a 42-inch smart TV for $230,” she said. “Those stall cards cost $70 apiece, so after just a few sales, this pays for itself. When we went to OBS, we took 14 TVs down there, and by the time we are done at this sale, we will have paid for them.”

Caudill buys horses at the major Kentucky sales for various clients, including some from Saudi Arabia, but said she appreciated the smaller markets from a seller’s perspective and did not plan to stray from them after beginning to sell in her home state.

“I see the first horse go through and the last horse go through every November and every January,” she said. “You see horses that you could take to Louisiana and sell for $5,000 to $7,000 down there, and you won’t get a bid for them at the January sale. It’s just a smaller marketplace, and a horse that won’t get a second look up here would be the star of the show down there, and they appreciate your business. They’re good people, and they appreciate your business.”

Watershed Bloodstock sold all seven horses it offered at the Fasig-Tipton February sale for a total of $23,100. Leading the way was the Curlin mare Miss Curley d’Oro, who sold in foal to Overanalyze to Olympia Star Inc. for $10,000.

Caudill said she had reasonable expectations for her first foray into selling at a Kentucky auction. While the numbers were obviously a key component, her measurements for success went beyond them.

“[I want] for my clients to be happy with their prices and for the buyers to feel like they got a good value,” she said. “I’d have to say as long as everyone’s good with that, I’m easy to satisfy; you have to be in today’s business. It’s a tough world out there, especially when you’re dealing with middle- to lower-end mares. You’d better be realistic or you’re going to have a lot of dreams that don’t turn out the way you hope, and you’re going to lose a lot of money.”