Aug. 4—The Aiken Training Track, where young thoroughbreds are prepared for racing and the Aiken Trials are held, will be the site of a horse auction this fall.
"We're really looking forward to it," said Aiken Training Track President Bill Gutfarb. "It will help increase awareness of the track. We've been trying to think of other ways to utilize this beautiful facility for horse-related activities. We hope that the public will come out and enjoy something that is different."
The Best of the West Horses sale is scheduled for 3 p.m. Oct. 2.
Ike Sankey of Wyoming is the owner of the company, Horse Resource Sales, which will conduct the auction.
Sankey and his family are involved in the rodeo production business. They also breed bucking horses for rodeos.
"There is a nominal fee that he is paying us, and we're providing stalls, water and electricity, so there will be a little bit of revenue for us," Gutfarb said.
Up to 50 "experienced" and "trustworthy" Western riding horses will be offered during the Best of the West Horses sale, according to bestofthewesthorses.com.
"We're very selective," Sankey told the Aiken Standard. "They've got to be safe, they've got to be broke well and they've got to be sound."
Different breeds of horses will be in the auction, but primarily Quarter Horses will be sold.
"What I'm focusing on is the ranch aspect," Sankey said. "You don't make better horses than ranch horses — horses that have come off a ranch, grown up on a ranch and worked for a living."
Horse Resource Sales conducts two other auctions — the Bots Sots Remount sale in Wyoming and the Cowgirl Cadillacs sale in Arizona.
Sankey said he has wanted for several years to have an auction on the East Coast.
At the Cowgirl Cadillacs sale in February, the top-priced horse sold brought $120,000.
"There were six women from Aiken registered to buy horses, and that caught my attention," Sankey said. "I called and talked to them or talked to them in person, and none of them knew the other five. They told me, 'We cannot find the kind of horses you have at your sale in our part of the country.'"
At first, Sankey looked at beach locations in the Carolinas, but couldn't find a suitable spot for an auction.
The Training Track "has all of the things we need," he said.
Prospective buyers will be able to learn more about the horses in the Best of the West sale during a soft preview at 4 p.m. Oct. 1 and a preview at 10 a.m. Oct. 2.
During the soft preview, attendees will get to see the sale's horses being ridden and also will be able to pet them and talk to their consigners, Sankey said.
He described the Oct. 2 preview as a more structured event.
"The horses will be shown in the order they will sell, and they each will have 4 minutes to show what they can do," Sankey said. "There will be horses that can kneel and lay down. They'll roll balls. They'll be very talented, trained horses."
There will be a party at 5 p.m. Oct. 1.
A tent with vendors also will be on the Training Track's grounds, Gutfarb said.
Sankey believes there will be a strong market for the auction's horses in Aiken.
"A a lot of older people in Aiken and on the East Coast used to ride hunters and jumpers, do dressage, fox hunt, ride cross-country and play polo," he said. "It's harder for them now to do some of those things, but they still enjoy horses. They want a very safe, nice, attractive companion, and that's what we'll be offering."