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Friday, January 23, 2009

The Dallas Cowboys of Horse Racing

After having raided BC Juvenile Fillies Turf third-place finisher Laragh last year before the Breeders’ Cup and then Stardom Bound after her victory in the BC Juvenile Fillies, IEAH—checkbook at the ready—is on the prowl again.

Today it was promising 3-year-old G3 LeComte runner-up Patena and, like Helen Pitts before her, trainer Josie Carroll now knows what it feels like to have a potential Derby winner yanked away, only to be handed over a trainer with no qualms about using every means possible to win—regardless of ethical considerations. That sucks. What makes it worse is that Carroll trained Patena’s dam Handpainted as well—so much for loyalty for a job well-done. Top that with her promising filly Springside being injured while winning the G2 Demoiselle in late November, and it’s been a tough couple of months for Carroll.

Jen over at ThoroughBlog reports IEAH paid between $1.5 and $1.8 million for 70% of Patena.

I can’t help thinking of the Dallas Cowboys (or substitute New York Yankees, if you will) when reading about IEAH’s acquisitions—and in the most cold blood manner of “assets management” that’s exactly what these horses are, acquisitions. Rather like the ostentatious Jerry Jones who never met a camera he didn’t love, IEAH’s most visible mouthpiece Michael Iavarone and his associates do very little in actually developing talent. It’s much easier to forage for prospects cultivated, nursed and coddled by others toiling in relative obscurity so forgive me if I can’t muster up admiration for IEAH or its purchases.

Then again, are they not just symptomatic of our instant-gratification-driven world? Much like “America’s Team” is able to do (when they don’t implode due to discord and distractions caused by quarterbacks dating no-talent media whores, as well as drug- and alcohol-induced crimes and misdemeanors), IEAH will continue to win, but that doesn’t mean we have to like them.


Wind Gatherer said...

Not to mention, those jackasses haven't managed to win a dam thing. It's always the sizzle. I'm sick of the sizzle.

Teresa said...

I don't entirely disagree with you, Val, but IEAH couldn't do this without the sellers. Can we blame IEAH entirely when there are people around so eager to take their money?

Valerie said...

That's why we (and I say this from the perspective of someone who is a life-long fan of small-market teams) love to hate the Dallas Cowboys (and New York Yankees, et al)—they throw money around in an attempt to "buy" championships. Ditto IEAH. Do we (or I) "blame" them for doing so? No, they can do whatever they want with their money…but that doesn't make them any less culpable for the situation or any less detestable to my eyes. And the people who sell to them? Well, if an insane amount of money was thrown at me, I’m not sure I could resist either. Horse racing is a very uncertain enterprise, so who could really fault them for cashing in? If the numbers are right, and IEAH spent c. $1.8 million for 70% of Patena, who knows if he would ever make that much? It’s a gamble, for sure.

Still, IEAH (and other entities like them, I should add) ruins it for me when they buy promising horses that are taken away from very competent trainers and give them to cheats like Dutrow, Asmussen, Pletcher—the “corporate” trainers whose assistants are the unheralded performers. As Curlin was sold and removed from Helen Pitts to Asmussen, so too did Josie Carroll—who has won the prestigious Queen’s Plate—lose out to Dutrow. That sucks!

M.H. Adolphson, Jr. said...

They just keep on buying them... but to be honest, I really think their purchases are sound and smart. They don't have the monetary bandwidth of Coolmore or Darley, yet they are out-earning them domestically. It is not too far off that they will start expanding to Europe, especially with the purses dropping here. Despite the dogmatic presence, I am a fan... so far.