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A stalking horse is a horse, of course, of course

With all the buzz this week about Magna Entertainment Corp.'s stalking horse bid (being delayed, then pulled altogether), we in the newsroom started wondering where in the heck the term "stalking horse" came from. In this case with Magna, the term is used to characterize a bid that basically serves at the benchmark bid -- it's ...

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One comment

  1. The term “staking horse,” as its used in bidding, doesn’t seem to match the etymology.

    That leads me to believe that perhaps — ironicly — the term “stalking horse,” as its used in bidding, may be derived from horse racing. In horse racing, the term “stalking horse” is an antiquated term to describe the horse that darts to the led right out of the gate and sets the pace of the race. The other horses are referred to as the “stalkers” because they literally sit back stalking the led horse waiting until the right moment when the lead horse begins to tire to make their move. If the stalkers cannot overcome the lead horse’s pace, then the lead horse will win the race. In short, the “stalking horse” is the one on the lead setting the pace who the other horses have to eventually catch. These days though the “stalking horse” is referred to as the “speed horse.”

    In the context of bidding, this use of the word makes more sense. The stalking horse bid sets the bench mark which the other bidders will have to match or better in order to win.

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