The results weren't all positive, but Fasig-Tipton Midlantic's executive vice president, Mason Grasty, expressed satisfaction with the performance of the May sale of 2-year-olds in training that ended its two-day run Tuesday in Maryland. The average price suffered a moderate setback, but the gross revenue soared to an all-time high as the number of horses sold increased significantly.
"With the war and all the stuff that's gone on, I'm very happy," Grasty said. "The rest of the economy is supposedly diving into the tank, but this isn't.
"Our bread and butter -- the reason our consignors come here -- is for that middle market horse, and the demand for that kind of horse remained strong. There were lots of buyers here for the $25,000 to $75,000 horse, and they bought lots of them."
Fasig-Tipton reported that 322 horses were sold for a gross of $9,805,300, an average of $30,451, and a median of $22,000. Compared to the sale's company's figures for 2002, the number sold and gross increased 14.2% and 5.3%, respectively. The average and median fell 7.8% and 2.2%, respectively. Last year, 282 horses were sold for a gross of $9,312,600, an average of $33,023, and a median of $22,500.
The buy-back rate rose from 26.0% last year to 28.8% this year.
The top price for an individual horse was the $320,000 brought by a Smoke Glacken colt on the auction's final day. The buyer was Klaravich Stable, with trainer Rick Violette signing the ticket. The colt turned in what was believed to be the fastest three-furlong work in Fasig-Tipton history when he covered the distance in :33 1/5.
"He was obviously fast, but he also was a really well-balanced, sound colt," Violette said. "We had to give about $100,000 more than I thought we would for him. I was hoping we would get him for $200,000 to $250,000 to be honest with you. But he's a New York-bred, so there are a lot of plusses there, and he was the best colt in the sale."
Violette faced stiff competition, fighting off a representative of Sackatoga Stable, which owns Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner Funny Cide, and a group that included brothers Anthony and Rick Dutrow, who are both trainers. The immediate underbidder was New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace, who hid from his rivals in the sale pavilion's balcony and made his offers through Fasig-Tipton executive Boyd Browning. Chace had longtime client Ernie Paragallo on the phone.
A handsome bay, the colt was produced from the 13-year-old Al Nasr mare Baydon Belle, who has no winners from her five foals of racing age. But she is a half-sister to European stakes winner Airport (by Lear Fan), and she is also from the family of European champion Stravinsky.
"Those five (non-winning) foals stopped me. If this would have been the first foal out of her, I would have never stopped" Chace said. "But that doesn't mean he's not going to be a runner. He has all the parts, he really does. He's got a beautiful shoulder, a big girth, and a beautiful walk."
Niall Brennan Stables consigned the colt as agent for his breeder, Lawrence Goichman of Connecticut. The colt originally was being pointed for the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's March sale of 2-year-olds in training, but suffered a cut on his chest that required stitches.