Kevin McKathan has a warning for anyone planning to shop at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training Tuesday.
"You better be ready to dig deep," said the Florida horseman, who buys horses for trainer Bob Baffert's clients.
All the signs look good for a very strong market at Calder Race Course in South Florida. The sale has attracted an impressive group of big spenders, including Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager John Ferguson, Satish Sanan of Padua Stables, Fusao Sekiguchi of Japan, New Mexico track operator Stan Fulton, and Bill Casner of WinStar Farm. In addition, the buyers have been very enthusiastic about the horses they've seen.
"I think it's going to be great sale -- a scary, crazy sale," McKathan said. "Fasig-Tipton has gathered up a bunch of very good horses. It's as a good a group as I've seen in a long time. A lot of the time, horses work well and then when you go to barn, they're not much to look at. But here, when you go back to barn, you say, 'Oh yeah, I know why that horse worked that fast.' "
Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson also is optimistic based on the strength of the sale's catalogue and the upswing in the Thoroughbred marketplace in general.
"We've got as good a bunch of horses here as we've ever had," Robertson said. "They look good on the end of a shank, and they performed really well during the first breeze show. From Saratoga last year until the OBS sale (in February), the horse market has been terrific, and I don't think there's any event that's going to turn it around, at least in the next few days."
The sale starts at 11 a.m. (EST) Tuesday. Scheduled to go through the ring are horses by such well-known sires as A.P. Indy
, Storm Cat
, Seattle Slew, and Seeking the Gold
"It's going to be a hell of a sale," Baffert predicted. "There's good horses, and everybody in the world who has money is here to buy horses."
A large number of Japanese buyers attended the auction's final under tack show on Sunday. According to Naohiro Goda of the Tokyo-based Regent Co., there are approximately 10 different groups of Japanese buyers looking at horses, up from "six or seven" in 2003.
"The horses purchased here last year have done well in Japan," said Goda of the increased Japanese interest. "Sixty percent of them are winners, more than from any other 2-year-old sale. The economy is also picking up a little bit in Japan."