The Krispy Kreme doughnuts are still hot and tasty. And the crab cakes at Michael's are still some of the best around. But business has changed at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale. The three-day auction in Timonium, Md., got off to shaky start on Monday, with the gross, average, and median all suffering big hits.
"It's a little rough," said consignor Josh Pons of Country Life Farm. "People are apprehensive."
The 183 yearlings sold grossed $2,920,100 and averaged $15,957. The median was $7,500. Compared to last year's first session figures, the number sold was down by 7.1%, the gross was down by 32.0%, and the average was down by 26.8%. The median suffered a 28.6% decline. The buy-back rate was 27.1%, with 68 of the 251 horses offered failing to find new homes.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the following week's stock market plunge, Fasig-Tipton officials suspected things were going to be tough so they reached out more to buyers. They increased their visits to racetracks to promote the sale, and they called some horsemen personally. But the crowd appeared to be much thinner than it had in previous years, and consignors said their yearlings attracted fewer lookers.
"Your efforts are not always as successful as you would like them to be," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "The psychology of American spending is different today than it was 30 days ago, whether it's cars, houses, clothes, or horses."
The top price of $150,000 was brought by a bay Not For Love colt, who is a half-brother to graded winner Gin Talking (by Allen's Prospect). Produced from the 11-year-old winning Rollicking mare Chattin, the colt was consigned to the auction by Litz Bloodstock Services, as agent for breeder Barbara Cross Graham. Trainer Jimmy Murphy, who sat with Graham during the bidding, said immediately afterward that the transaction was a buy-back. But Graham later contacted Fasig-Tipton and said there had been a breakdown in communication. She reported that she had sold a 50% interest to Joe Keelty of Dumbarton Farm, so Fasig-Tipton reported the deal as a sale. Murphy was listed as the buyer on the session's summary sheets.
A Wild Rush -- Cranberry Muffin filly brought the session's second-highest price of $120,000. Consigned by Thornmar, agent, she was purchased by the Gibraltar Group, a partnership headed by Steve Barberino and advised by former trainer Mike Mollica.
New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace bought a $120,000 Unbridled's Song -- Dreams of Glory filly and a $100,000 Grindstone -- Wordly Nell colt for Ernie Paragallo. Dr. Ronald Harris Parker of California purchased a Formal Gold -- Dixieland Queen colt for $100,000.
Fasig-Tipton officials expected business to improve on Tuesday because of a stronger catalogue. However, Samantha Seigel, perennially one of the leading buyers at the auction, said this year's group of yearlings is lighter in quality than last year's. In 2000, the sale set records for number sold, gross, average, and the number of horses bringing prices of $100,000 or more.Results from Fasig-Tipton