If a foal is born with the right attributes, they are looked after extremely well. Minor deformities can render a horse worthless and may mean a very early death. Some cosmetic deformities may be operated on or treated, risking further injury to the young horse.
To make the foals more attractive to bidders at the yearling sales, horses are then subject to a regime of exercise and sometimes drugs to increase their appeal and profitability.
It is not uncommon for yearlings to be purchased for a price in excess of $20,000. In April 2006 at the Sydney Easter Sales a yearling was sold for three million dollars.
This high price tag does not guarantee success. Many horses disappear after only a few races.