The Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale July 15 in Lexington started this year's yearling season on a strong note with double-digit percentage increases in average and median.
The one-day sale registered a 10.45% improvement in average to $89,785 and a 20% increase in median to $72,000. Buy-back rate was 26.6% with 163 of the 222 horses offered selling. Last year's buy-back rate was 33.2%.
Total sales were down 4.7% to $14,635,000, but that was to be expected because, with reduced foal crop numbers, the number of horses offered at this year's sale was down 21.5% to 222.
"We're very pleased with the sale," said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. "Not only were the statistics encouraging but the overall feel and energy felt good. If you were on the sales grounds Friday, Saturday, Sunday or today; there was energy and enthusiasm for Thoroughbreds."
Nat Rea's Regis Farms landed the sale-topper when he purchased a filly from the first crop of Desert Party for $460,000. She is the highest-priced yearling sold at the sale since 2006, when a Forestry colt went for $1.2 million.
Consigned by Bert Welker and Clark Shepherd's Allied Bloodstock, agent, as Hip No. 51, the Desert Party filly is out of the Kris S. mare Lil Cozette, who has produced stakes winner Cosmic Kris (Storm Creek), stakes-placed winner Foret (Forest Camp), and four other winners.
"She is a really nice and lovely filly, good quality," said Richard Hogan, Rea's adviser who signed the ticket for Regis Farms. "It was more than we wanted to pay, but you have to reach for the good ones."
Mandy Pope's Whisper Hills Farm purchased the sale's top colt, going to $420,000 for a son of Bellamy Road who was consigned by Gainesway, agent, as Hip No. 191.
Pope believes the Bellamy Road colt will thrive at classic distances. He is out of the stakes-winning Affirmed mare Affirmed Dancer, who has produced five starters, all winners, including grade III winner La Gran Bailadora and stakes-placed Fun in D' Sun and Affirmed Cat.
"He is just an extreme athlete," Pope said. "Everything about him and his frame; he was always poised and did everything the same every time. When he would walk up and down (the shedrow) he had such forward movement. He has a long stride, and virtually that makes a Derby horse."
Gainesway director of sales Michael Hernon was excited about the price for the Bellamy Road colt. Gainesway consigned three of the top six highest-priced horses.
"The price was exciting and was way beyond the reserve. We hope he can be a future stallion for Gainesway and there is no question that the market is strong for quality stock," Hernon said. "This is a breakout horse and the market is strong. People are inclined to reach for the big ones."
Browning said people are feeling good about the yearling sale season after the July sale.
"I think it bodes well for the yearling sales all throughout North America," Browning said. "It's important that we start it off with a good, strong sale and we're very pleased with the results."
Esther Marr and Emily Walden contributed to this story.