The Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training, held March 3 at Calder Race Course, suffered downturns of 25.5% in gross revenue, 31.5% in average price, and 34.8% in median price. The number of horses sold rose 8.8% while the buy-back rate dropped to 35.5% from 40.4% a year ago.
Here’s what people at the auction had to say about the market:
Walt Robertson, Fasig-Tipton chairman: “I think in the world we live in we’ve got to be satisfied with this sale. We certainly feared (it would be) worse and hoped for better. I think it was real strong at the top. We had some people really batting it around there. Padua Stables came to play strong. Darley played strong. Jess Jackson played strong. We worked harder this year to get buyers in here than we ever have.”
Bob Baffert, trainer: “There is no recession here. A horse is recession proof, believe me. Everybody wants a good horse. They hold their value. If you have a really top athlete, he’s going to bring money.
“There are some nice horses here; it’s a good group of horses. I think the high definition television monitors (in the video viewing room in the tent complex on the Calder backstretch) were really great. You can see the horses really well.”
Satish Sanan, Padua Stables: “Good horses are hard to buy. There are probably 15 good horses, and I think they’re on everybody’s list. It’s just a question of who can afford them, and you can’t bid against John Ferguson, so what are you going to do? It’s my own money; it’s not his own money. That’s the big difference.”
Davant Latham, Kentucky bloodstock agent: “It looks to me like the good horses are selling very well, and this sale should be a cause of optimisim for the industry. Fasig-Tipton has gone over the top in taking care of the people here. They put us up in the Fontainebleau (hotel). That was great. They made it so nice to be here with the tents and everything. The video room was set up great. The breakfasts and the lunches were wonderful. Even if you didn’t get a horse, you would have enjoyed the trip. It was a wonderful buying experience. But I think they have to be careful because they certainly could be taken advantage of by somebody just coming down here for a free ride.”
Don Graham, consignor: “I really didn’t know what to expect to be honest with you, but I was a little apprehensive. Overall, it looks like it’s been a decent sale; most of the people are pretty happy. The good horses are bringing good money.
“Fasig-Tipton has done an excellent job. This is altogether different than what it was before. They have been so hospitable; they really have. They are a great bunch of guys. I don’t know if it helped or not, but I just know it was nice.”
Tony Bowling, All In Sales: “The buyers want a lot of value for their money, and they’re demanding a lot of value for their money.
"Generally, it’s been a pretty decent sale; it really has. But it’s been a tough market. Don’t get me wrong; it’s been a very tough market just all the way across unless you have the very cream of the crop. I still think people are here to buy horses, and they’re going to take the best of whatever there is here. But they didn’t just didn’t take the top 10%. They got a little deeper than that. I sold some horses pretty nicely for $150,000 to $200,000.”
Dean De Renzo, Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds: “There are a lot of different buyers here. It looks like one of the better investments now is the horse. You open up the newspaper and, from what you see, you don’t want to invest in stocks, and you don’t want to invest in real estate, and you don’t want to invest in banking. Purses are really good all around the country and the handle has been up at some racetracks and so, therefore, I think you probably have a better shot buying racehorses than you do in investing in some other things -- for the short term, anyway.
“I think Fasig-Tipton did a great job in making the video area a place where people could really do their homework. The conditions that they used to have to work under were hard. This year, people could really get a chance to sit down and do it like a business.”
Randy Miles, who signed sale tickets for Dogwood Stable: “It was just like we thought. The top half of the sale flourished; people made money. The bottom half struggled. We bought our horses right out of the middle, and I thought we got real good value for our money.
“I've got to say everybody benefited (from Fasig-Tipton’s improvements at Calder). did. Everybody is in a great mood; there’s a big crowd. Just because you put on a great show you can’t pull out of money out of people’s pockets, but a good experience always helps carrying over to next year. People see that they can bring their clients down to Calder, and can have a great time purchasing a horse, so if it didn’t work this year, it’s really going to work next year. There was not one thing I didn’t like. They did everything right. Everything that they touched was much improved. It was buyer friendly from top to bottom.”
Niall Brennan, Niall Brennan Stables: "I’ve had some horses not sell but I thought we were kind of in trouble with them. But for the rest, I think it’s been very fair and very solid. It’s a new era, a new day, and it feels pretty good to me. There are a lot of new buyers. There’s energy here, but the market is polarized a little bit. It’s still the greatest game on earth, and people want to have good horses. Don’t read the newspaper; don’t turn on the TV. We know what’s going on in the world, but there are still people wanting good horses.
“Fasig-Tipton has done an amazing job with customer service. They’ve brought the buyers here, and they’ve done an amazing job of taking care of the buyers and the sellers. Despite the economy, they’re created an environment here that is relatively healthy for the horse business and more power to them. It had to have helped because there are new buyers here. It’s been a pretty healthy market for nice stock. It’s a fair market; it’s real.”
David Scanlon, Scanlon Training Center: “It was tough; we had one of our tougher days (even with selling a $1-million Unbridled's Song colt). It just didn’t really line up. But I saw horses in there bringing good money. When they (the buyers) wanted them, they wanted them. When they didn’t, they just didn’t want them at all. I won’t call it a tragedy, but I'm not going to be having a party tonight.
"When you are this kind of economy, you are going to have these days. I’m also in a spot where I’ve got clients that aren’t just here to give horses away. My clients all race horses, and they believe in their hores. They feel like, hey, if nobody is going to give me the prices I think they’re worth, I’m happy to go race them and you can buy them from me (privately) when they win. So far, they’ve had great success doing that.”