The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday nights in New York, has a smaller catalogue this year. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
At Fasig-Tipton's July auction in Kentucky, where the catalogue reached a record size, the biggest complaint was that the supply of yearlings exceeded the demand. The gross revenue, average price, and median price all dropped, while the buy-back rate increased significantly.
There are 153 horses in this year's Saratoga book, a total that is 27.8% below last year's figure of 212. The reduction in size is different from many other yearlings sales, which have experienced increases in the number of horses they are offering. Fasig-Tipton's Texas auction and the Keeneland September sale both have bigger catalogues, and Fasig-Tipton has projected that the numbers will be up for its Midlantic Eastern fall auction in Maryland.
One reason for the Sartoga decline was the lack of strength in the sale's 2004 edition at a time when the yearling market in general was thriving. The gross, average, and median all experienced small to moderate setbacks.
"The marketplace is more often right than not, so it's very hard for me to be critical of the top end buyers and say that we had the horses last year but they just didn't find them," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer.
"Obviously, a couple of the horses that we thought had the potential to be big sellers didn't reach that potential for whatever reason. It could have been physical; it could have been the pedigree; it could have been veterinary issues. There are a lot of reasons involved that make the top end buyers pull the trigger. We just didn't get them lined up on any of the 'right' horses or enough of the 'right' horses. We were missing a little energy and excitement at the top."
As a result, some consignors apparently decided to sell their horses elsewhere.
"The numbers are down, but there was no fleeing mentality," Browning said.
Fasig-Tipton reduced the number of sessions this year from three to two, with the company's officials saying that today's buyers are more interested in getting their work done quickly and in an efficient manner than in socializing, which was a big part of the Saratoga experience in years past.
Sale sessions begin each evening at 7:30 p.m. (EDT).