The Thoroughbred industry's buying titans -- Coolmore Stud and Sheikh Mohammed's Darley operation -- didn't clash Tuesday during Fasig-Tipton's select sale of 2-year-olds in training, and the lack of a major bidding war was reflected in the final statistics for the South Florida auction.
The gross revenue and average price declined 29.9% and 12.9%, respectively, from last year's world record highs for a juvenile sale. In addition, the top price for an individual horse plummeted to $2.5 million from last year's world record auction high for a Thoroughbred of $16 million, when Coolmore team member Demi O'Byrne outlasted Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager John Ferguson to get The Green Monkey.
"We hoped they would clash, but, to our knowledge, they didn't," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "There just wasn't a horse here that they both thought they had to have,"
However, Fasig-Tipton did manage to set one world juvenile auction record at Calder Race Course when the median price soared 25%, from the former mark of $200,000, established in 2005 and equaled last year, to $250,000 this year.
"I don't think any of us expected a dramatic increase in the gross or the average," Browning said. "If you would have said to our staff, 'Bet over or under on the gross and the average this year compared to last year,' we all, to be honest with you would have taken under. Last year was almost like a fantasy world; this year was a little more back to reality."
The 124 horses sold grossed $43,622,000 and averaged $351,790. In 2006, when 154 2-year-olds were sold, the gross grew for the third year in a row, reaching $62,187,000. The average, which also increased for the third consecutive year, rose to $403,812 in 2006.
This year's buy-back rate was 40.7%, a significant increase from the comparable 2006 figure of 32.8%.
If you remove The Green Monkey and his astounding price from last year's results, this year's average was up 16.5% and the gross was down only 5.6%, so "we feel pretty good," said Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson.
This year's $2.5-million sale topper was a muscular Storm Catcolt that O'Byrne purchased on behalf of Coolmore managing partner John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derek Smith.
"We (Coolmore) did breed him, so I don't know if I made a mistake then or I made a mistake now," said O'Byrne, who added that the dark bay or brown colt had improved since he was sold as a yearling. "He was probably just going through a phase then. I couldn't be happier to have him now after the way he breezed.
The colt's Fasig-Tipton consignors, Hoby and Layna Kight, had bought him for $1 million at last year's Keeneland September yearling auction. The colt worked a quarter mile in :21 2/5 at Calder on Feb. 25, when there was a strong headwind.
The sale topper is out of the 8-year-old stakes-placed Mr. Prospector mare Moon Safari, who is a full sister to grade I winner Scan. She is also from the family of European champion Caerleon and grade I winner Vision.
Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager, John Ferguson, and his Darley colleagues huddled near the auction stand, on the opposite side from O'Byrne and the Coolmore Stud team, when the colt entered the auction ring, but did not bid, according to Hoby Kight. He said the Darley team had vetted the colt and had showed other signs of interest, but told him before the sale it was a "no go."
The Kights owned the colt in partnership with Don Mattox, Norman Adams, and Drew Raymon. Hoby Kight had hoped the colt would bring more, but said, "We made a lot of money."
Ferguson signed the sale ticket for the Fasig-Tipton sale's second-highest-priced horse, a $1,450,000 Mr. Greeley -- Dancing Naturally colt. Ciaran and Amy Dunne's Wavertree Stables consigned the colt as agent.