Following are some more comments from buyers and consignors about the market at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale last Wednesday and Thursday:
John Stuart, Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services: "It's not any different than it's been in the past. The top 10 or 20% of the yearlings get sold and make the sellers really happy. The next 40% get sold and bring about what you expect. And 40% don't get sold. It's awful hard. It's a tough, tough business for commercial breeders, up and down the line."
Craig Bandoroff, Denali Stud: "You come here with what you think are good horses, but the buyers have a very high criteria of selectivity this early in the year, and that doesn't drop until you get to about book four at Keeneland in September. A good horse isn't good enough. You have to have a very good horse.
"I don't know why anybody would have high expectations coming into this sale. This is a luxury product. The numbers are down because of MRLS, but we produce more horses than people want anyway. If the foal crop came down by about 18,000, then you would see the law of supply and demand come into play."
Reiley McDonald, Eaton Sales: "I saw pretty much what I expected going into the sale, which was a lot of people looking at horses with fewer orders to fill. They had three or four horses to pay in past years, but this time, they had only one to buy and they were more discerning in their selection process. The lesser horses just fell through the cracks.
"I was told prior to the sale by some people that buyers wouldn't be relying on veterinary information as much. But I felt that veterinary information was dictating more than ever what happens with the sales. Even when a horse had minor problems, it didn't sell unless it was a complete physical standout.
"Other than we're missing a percentage of the early foals, I don't see any effects of MRLS. The horses are as strong (physically) as they have been every year."
Pat Costello, Paramount Sales: "The sale has been spotty. If you have the real deal, you're going to get all the money. But it's tough to get the middle market horse sold. A lot of us thought MLS would help us out because of the fact that there's fewer horses here, but it didn't. I would imagine the economy had a lot to do with it. If people don't have disposable income, they don't have extra money to spend on horses."
Kerry Cauthen, Four Star Sales: "I think people's expectations got a little bit inflated prior to the sale because there were so many people coming through the barns and there was only one sale to focus on without Keeneland. Everybody talked about prices going up 10, 20, or 30 percent. That didn't happen, but I walked away feeling pretty good because I thought it would be a good sale if average held up. We still don't have the greatest economy out there, and people don't have to own horses. We sold our horses for what I thought were very fair prices and in some cases, very good prices."
"Because of MRLS, there was a lower quantity of horses, which should have been great. But the reality of it was that MRLS helped us pay for some of the sins (of overproduction) in prior years. If there were as many horses in this sale as we had last year, we probably would have had a significant contraction in the market."
Samantha Siegel, Jay Em Ess Stable: "I think they do a very good job at Fasig-Tipton of getting good individuals. I think this year's group was stronger in the middle than it was at the top end, which is nice for the regular people. It's a good, steady group."
Peter Bradley, Kentucky bloodstock agent and pinhooker: "I wouldn't say there are weedier horses here or smaller horses here because of MRLS. As a matter of fact, over the last four years, I think Fasig-Tipton has selected against the smaller horses that sometimes ended up in this sale. So I would say, if anything, there is a better horse versus four years ago."
Randy Hartley, Florida pinhooker: "I think this group of horses is one of the best I've ever seen here. The numbers are down, but I think the market is strong. It seems like the horses you could get for $100,000 in the past are bringing $150,000. We've gotten blown away trying to buy what was on our short list. I just had to sit here (on the wall of the back walking ring) and try to find something that caught my eye."
John Moynihan, a Kentucky bloodstock agent who represents Robert and Beverly Lewis: "There are nice yearlings here, but I want to try to fill our plate a little bit with some of the better-pedigreed stuff before I try to buy these kind of horses. I've heard so many good things about the quality of horses at Saratoga, so I'm waiting for that sale."
Marshall Silverman, consignor: "If you have the right horse, something the buyers want, they'll reach and they'll spend for it. I came in here cautiously optimistic, and I've been real pleased. There is plenty of money here. Fasig-Tipton did a heck of a job; there are some pretty darn nice individuals here."
Mark Reid, bloodstock agent: "To me, it's a very typical Fasig-Tipton July sale. I've been here the last three or four years, and it looks like this is a representative group of horses to me. I don't think MRLS has affected the horses overall physically. There were a lot of people here shopping."
Florida pinhooker Mike Mulligan, Leprechaun Racing: "There were a lot of quality horses here, and we thought it would be easier to buy than it would be at Keeneland in September, so we are taking our shot. The really superior horses presented here sold very well, so it hasn't been easy. We've gotten outrun quite a bit."
Jimmy Gladwell, a buyer and seller from Florida: "I don't think there are as many end user here as in the past, but the market has been pretty steady. We bought a few and we sold a few, and we've been pretty pleased with everything that's happened."