In the midst of the 2018 Keeneland September Sale, Donegal Racing took to social media to share the formula used to purchase yearlings for its partners, one that has resulted in multiple Grade 1 winners for the syndicate formed in 2008.
Donegal’s president Jerry Crawford first inputs all the Keeneland September yearlings into an algorithm he has developed and updated for over a decade. Referred to as “the lodestar of Donegal Racing,” the algorithm filters for horses that can supposedly win at 1 ¼ miles. The classic distance is seen in races such as the Kentucky Derby, the Travers Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Conformation experts are then used to exam yearlings on the filtered list, followed by veterinarians, geneticists tests and a cardio exam, each step narrowing down the list even more.
Crawford and his son Jerry, a consultant to Donegal, then analyze the pedigrees of the remaining horses along with selling prices, typically buying between 10-15 yearlings.
Donegal racing has campaigned Grade 1 winners Keen Ice, Dullahan, Paddy O’Prado and Carrick in addition to multiple other graded stakes winners.
Keen Ice famously notched his Grade 1 status when he upset 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah. He was a $120,000 yearling purchase but went on to earn over $3.4 million. A few years earlier, Dullahan earned three Grade 1s between the ages of 2 and 3, winning the Breeders’ Futurity and the Blue Grass and Keeneland and beating older horses in the Pacific Classic. His purchase price was $250,000 and his track earnings were over $1.7 million.
Donegal Racing has also had success on the turf, winning the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes twice. Paddy O’Prado was their first winner in 2010, a $105,000 purchase with over $1.7 million in earnings. Carrick gave them a repeat this past August when he upset the Secretariat in only his fourth career start. His earnings currently stand at $302,800, exceeding his $75,000 purchase price.