The one-day Fasig-Tipton winter mixed sale already was registering strong numbers on Feb. 11 in Lexington when a supplemental catalog that featured 28 selected offerings from Eugene Melnyk's breeding operation assured a grand finale.
The Melnyk offerings landed the four highest prices at the sale with grade I winner Pool Land leading the way as the 11-year-old Silver Deputy mare, in foal to Smart Strike, was purchased by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation for $900,000. Jim Wells signed the ticket for Live Oak, noting that they believe Smart Strike is a good fit for the mare.
"She's a keeper. There are not many Silver Deputy's out there," Wells said. "They're expensive. This mare was no exception. She fits our program really well."
Pool Land won the 2006 Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park. She has a 2-year-old colt and yearling filly by Speightstown and her first foal to race, an A.P. Indy colt, is a winner.
The next three top prices were for grade II winner Roxy Gap (by Indian Charlie) at $850,000, grade II winner Indian Vale (by A.P. Indy) at $725,000, and grade III winner Gemswick Park (by Speightstown ), in foal to Tiznow , for $675,000. The Melnyk horses were consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency.
Those top prices helped fuel a 199% increase in total sales to $13,781,700. The average rocketed 230% and median improved 150%. Buyback rate was just 13% as all but 32 of the 245 horses offered were sold.
"Even in the main body of the original catalog, the same things held true. The quality horses sold very well," said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. "The yearlings sold well that were good. The broodmare prospects—the ones where you turned the page and thought, 'This one has a chance to sell pretty well,' inevitably sold pretty well."
Browning believes those improved numbers can be traced to market adjustments in which sellers have ceased offering bottom-level horses.
"The capitalist system is fairly efficient," Browning said. "It can be brutal and hard on people at times but there's no question that some of the horses that would have sold at lesser prices in previous years were not in the catalog this year."
There was plenty of interest in the Melnyk mares sold at sale's end. Fred Hertrich III, agent, signed the ticket for Roxy Gap at $850,000. Hertrich is part of a syndicate that plans to race the 5-year-old Indian Charlie mare who won last year's Hendrie Stakes (g. II) at Woodbine. Hertrich said he had to dig in his heels to land Roxy Gap.
"It's hard to buy horses like this though," Hertrich said. "You saw the people in there, with all of these nice mares. If you want one of them, you have to be the last bidder. There's awfully good quality. This isn't one of those sales that normally has that kind of quality, but with this level of horses, you could sell them in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at midnight tonight."
John and Martha Jane Mulholland went to $180,000 to land the sale's highest-priced yearling, a colt by Arch. Three Chimney's Sales, agent, consigned the colt out of multiple stakes winner Amazing Speed, by Langfuhr .
The highest-priced horse in the original catalog was Golden Mystery, a 7-year-old Awesome Again mare who was purchased by Nat Rea's Regis Farms for $625,000. A day before the sale, Golden Mystery won the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park. Vanned up from Florida, Golden Mystery didn't arrive on the sale grounds until after 3 p.m. EST. But potential buyers were updated about her progress and given an opportunity to see her before she was sold at the end of the sale.
"She was already a classy mare before yesterday but certainly she showed herself as one of the best filly-mare sprinters in the country right now," said Sergio de Sousa of consignor Hidden Brook. "It's one of those if she's going to go, you'll have to pay for her. We felt pretty good about it."
Throughout the day, much of the conversation at the sale noted the quality of the Melnyk mares. Browning said it was an impressive gathering.
"I think it was a testament to the Melnyk program that when people went back there and looked at those horses that, almost across the board, they all had good comformation, all were in good physical condition," Browning said. "That shows you the quality of the program that a decision was made three weeks ago to sell and they walk in here and look great. They have a great program."