My Favorite Broodmares: Tilleys Going and Memories Parked
Apr 6, 2011
I work on and breed a lot of horses, but my two favorite broodmares are Tilleys Going and Memories Parked. I had always liked both mares. They are both kind and easy to work with. They both foal out easily and have healthy, quality offspring. But the sale of Tilley's Colt and Memories' Filly really made them special to me.
Tilleys Going is owned by two Amish brothers, Lester and Josh. One day they invited me to go with them to the yearling auction because I was the one that had helped Tilley get in foal. Lester explained that this was a special auction because they expected to get $40,000 for Tilley's Colt. At the time, it would be the highest dollar amount they had ever received for a foal.
Bill Mirror inspects all the yearlings that are eligible for the auction. He is the person that decides which horses qualify and which horses have to sell at lesser auctions. Bill Mirror had told the brothers that Tilley's Foal is the best horse in that year's auction but that he would only sell for about $40,000 because many buyers would not recognize his value.
That's how I found myself driving a Ford Expedition with Lester, Josh, and two of their sons heading for Delaware Ohio and the Little Brown Jug Sale. We had wonderful day. We walked thru the paddocks before the presale races. Lester seemed to know everybody. Every ten yards we would stop and talk to a trainer, breeder, or buyer.
When the races started we had box seats. I bet a little money on each race. As the card progressed I noticed that Josh was full of advice about where I should place my money, but none of his money was ever wagered. I asked -" what gives, if you know so much why aren't you betting." "Aw", he replied, "the bishop wouldn't like that."
As the races concluded it was time for the big event, The Little Brown Jug Sale. I could sense the excitement in the room. Every buyer was hoping to purchase the next great racehorse. Every seller was hoping his horse would be the auction topper. No one had higher expectations than Josh and Lester, after all they were selling the best horse in the sale, of that Bill Mirror had assured them!
The first horse trotted to the auction block. The colt was bred almost exactly like Tilley's Colt. The boys considered this horse, although inferior, a good barometer to estimate their colts value. The auctioneer started to bark numbers and didn't stop until he had called out $110,000. Josh and Lester were really excited now; a horse bred like Tilley's Colt had sold for over $100,000 and Bill Mirror had said that their colt was better.
Several horses later another colt bred similar to Tilley's Colt trotted to the front. This time the auctioneer didn't quit until he had barked $125,000, a new sale record for a yearling. Now the brothers were bouncing off the walls. They had come hoping for $40,000 but suddenly $125,000 was in their grasp. Josh shouted to me "if we sell this horse for over $100,000 were getting a hotel room and partying all night long." Earlier I had learned what the bishop thought about gambling, I thought he may also have a dim view of partying in a hotel room "all night long". No matter, it was time for Tilley's Colt to take the stage.
Tilley's Colt looked impressive as he pranced down the aisle to the raised pen that housed the current horse on the block. He trotted around the pen almost performing for the buyers. I thought who wouldn't want this colt. He looked every bit the racehorse he was bred to be.
The bidding started fast, $1000, $3000, $5000. The brothers were giddy with excitement, $6000, $8000, $9000. The sons were jumping out of their seats, $10,000, $11,000. I was so excited I almost raised my hand and I knew I had no money, $12,000, $13,000. Then a funny thing happened, the bidding started to slow, $13,500 ...$14,000.
Josh looked at Lester no longer giddy but a little bit scared, $14,500 ...$15,000. What was happening, $15,250 ... $15,500? We could sense it; the money had left the room, $15,600 ...$15,700. The big spenders had bought the horses that they had come to buy, $15,800 ...$15,900. When the gavel banged for the last time Tilley's Colt had sold for $18,000.
Josh and Lester were crushed. Their boys were crushed. I was crushed. $18,000 dollars is nothing to sneeze at but we had come to the auction expecting $40,000. During the auction we had visions of $100,000. $18,000 at this point was a real let down. When we regained our composure we walked over to Bill Mirror and asked what happened? "Well" he said showing us his card, "I would have went as high as $40,000 but I wasn't going to pay more than $18,000 if I didn't have to".
Defeated we immediately left the auction. As we were walking out the consigner, a friend of mine, ran up to us and asked; "aren't you going to watch your filly sell"? Not even caring that Memories' Filly was going to sell a little later we just kept walking. Lester mumbled to the consigner; "put a bid on her for us, we can't stand to take another beating".
The ride home was depressing and gloomy. No one spoke until the phone rang. Lester picked it up and in a sullen tone asked; "how much did we get for her?" "That's it" he lamented "did you put a bid on her?" That's when I heard my friend scream thru the phone, "Yea, I bid on her, I almost got stuck with the damn thing". Memories' Filly had sold for $1500. That's how our adventure ended with those words "I almost got stuck with the damn thing" echoing in our heads.
Of course it didn't end for Tilley's Colt and Memories' Filly. Tilley's Colt went on to race and set several track records. I heard that Bill Mirror sold a 25% interest in him for six figures.
What about the filly that my friend the cosigner almost got stuck with? She was sold to a group in Italy. I was told that she had won the Italian standardbred version of the Kentucky derby. These two young horses had proved the experts at the auction wrong. They also created a lasting memory for me. I never saw either horse again but each had cemented a special place in my heart for their mothers whom I continue to work with to this day.