Business surged during the final session of the Fasig-Tipton Eastern fall yearling sale on Wednesday. But the rally wasn't enough to overcome the downward trend that had prevailed during the first two days of the Maryland auction. The overall figures for number sold, gross revenue, average price, and median price all were down from last year's figures.
"I'm glad we ended with a little sizzle instead of starting (strong) and fizzling," said Mason Grasty, the executive vice president of Fasig-Tipton Midlantic. "I think it's a little something to build on. The naysayers were quiet by noon today. The death and doom and destruction people were not saying anything in the afternoon.
"The people told me Sunday that the better horse were on the last day," he continued, "but I was not convinced of that. But judging by what happened, they were the better horses."
The 184 yearlings sold on Wednesday grossed $3,362,600 and averaged $18,275. The number sold was down by 3.2%, but the gross and average were up by 7.7%, and 11.2%, respectively, from the final session in 2000. This year's median of $10,000 was up by 31.6%. The only sour note was the buy-back rate , which increased from 17.7% last year to 26.1% this year.
Five yearling brought six-figure prices during the final session, including the $180,000 sale topper, a daughter of End Sweep -- She's My Choice. Named Sweep's Choice, she was purchased by Samantha Siegel, who was bidding on the phone from California after attending the auction earlier in the week. Mr. and Mrs. S.H. Rogers Jr.'s White Oak consigned the muscular chestnut. The couple purchased the filly for only $25,000 at this year's Keeneland January horses of all ages sale.
"We really liked her," said Siegel, who races horses with her parents, Jan and Mace. "She's a good-looking filly and powerfully built. She looks like she is going to be quick and early. We had to go a little higher than we thought we would."
The filly's dam, She's My Choice, is a 10-year-old daughter of El Raggaas. A winner of seven races, she finished third in the Blue Sparkler Stakes at Monmouth Park. The mare is a half-sister to added-money winner Port Arthur (by Mr. Justice). She's My Choice's two foals of racing age include Card and Dice (by Valid Wager), a winner in Japan.
The immediate underbidder was New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace.
Siegel also bought another yearling in the six-figure range, a $150,000 Silver Deputy -- Starry Val filly. Chace, representing Charles Hesse, paid $120,000 for a Forest Wildcat -- Razawan filly. Californian B. Wayne Hughes, who was represented at the sale by trainer Albert Stall Jr., spent $150,000 for a Touch Gold -- Round It Off filly. And F. Eugene Dixon Jr. acquired a Citidancer -- Soaring Colony colt for $120,000.
Even with the final session fireworks, the auction's statistics for all three days combined fell short of last year's results, which included sale records for number sold, gross, and average.
In all, 541 horses were sold for a gross of $9,153,000, an average of $16,919, and a median of $8,000. The number sold and gross dropped by 4.4% and 18.9%, respectively. And the average and median dipped by 15.2% and 12.1%, respectively. The buy-back rate increased sharply, from 21.9% last year to 28.1% this year.
"The economy is down, and the stock market is down from what it was a year ago," said Boyd Browning, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Fasig-Tipton. "An average horse is worth less today than it was a year ago. It's that simple.
"But I am not going to say that the decrease in average price is (entirely) attributable to the terrorist actions. I don't think they had a positive effect under any circumstances. But I think we had had a reasonable warning in the markets we had seen prior to the terrorist actions that it was going tough for the non-select horses. It (was tough) in Washington, Ocala, and Canada. And our summer sale (in Kentucky) had a higher buy-back rate."