Prices soared to world record heights Tuesday during Fasig-Tipton Florida's sale of 2-year-olds in training at Calder Race Course. A handsome colt from the first crop of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Fusaichi Pegasus set a new standard for a juvenile sold at public auction by commanding $4.5 million. In addition, a colt from the first crop of Stephen Got Even
also blew past the previous mark of $2.7 million, bringing $3.1 million earlier in the auction.
"It's been a hell of a sale," said consignor Maurice Miller. "I love the fact that the bar has been raised. A couple of years ago, we topped this sale for an even million. Now you can get $4.5 million. It's exciting."
The 142 horses sold grossed $41,586,000, a sale record that represented a 43% increase from a year ago. The average price rose 40% to another sale record of $292,859. The median increased 13.3% to $170,000, the second-highest ever posted for the auction. The buy-back rate fell from 43.7% last year to 36.3% this year.
Four horses brought individual prices of $1 million or more, equaling the sale record.
"A good horse is worth a hell of a lot of money today," said Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson. "The market at $300,000 plus was terrific. There was a lot of depth (in the buyers) from around the world. We knew that we had some special horses -- lots of them -- and with the buyer pool that we saw show up, yeah, I would have been disappointed if we hadn't had a real good sale."
The biggest spender was Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager John Ferguson, who paid $7,625,000 for eight horses. Fusao Sekiguchi of Japan ranked second, spending $6,115,000 for six head, including the sale-topping Fusaichi Pegasus colt. Sekiguchi had to fight off Ferguson and Satish Sanan of Padua Stables on his way to making the winning world record bid.
Immediately after the prancing colt was led from the sale ring, Sekiguchi stood, raised both arms, and waved them at the cheering crowd. Then, flashing a big smile, he stuck both thumbs in the air.
Asked how high he would have gone, Sekguchi replied through a translator, "Limitless."
Sekiguchi won the 2000 Derby with Fusaichi Pegasus after purchasing him for $4 million at the 1998 Keeneland July select yearling sale. The immediate underbidder was Sanan. After losing out to Sekiguchi once again for Fusaichi Pegasus' son at Calder, Sanan congratulated his rival, then promised, "One day, I'll buy a Derby horse."
Long-legged with lots of muscle and a smooth stride, the Fusaichi Pegasus colt is the first foal out of the 7-year-old unraced Storm Cat
mare Hidden Storm, who is a half-sister to grade III winner Jazz Club (by Dixieland Band
). The family also produced 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft
Prior to being sold at Calder, the Fusaichi Pegasus colt worked an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5.
"I hope this encourages other people to buy Fusaichi Pegasuses," said Sekiguchi, adding that the colt reminded him physically of the Kentucky Derby winner.
"Mr. Sekiguchi fell in love with this horse," said Neil Drysdale, the Hall-of-Fame trainer who guided Fusaichi Pegasus' career.
The classic winner's record-setting son will remain in this country and will be trained by Drysdale.
"He is quite similar to his father," Drysdale said. "He's a lovely moving horse, and he's handled the 2-year-old sale (experience) very well. Horses like him who are big and strong and can do easily are generally very talented. Now we keep our fingers crossed."
Kip Elser's South Carolina-based Kirkwood Stables consigned the colt as agent for Robert V. LaPenta, a Connecticut resident who is in the defense business. Trainer Nick Zito selected the colt for LaPenta, who purchased him for $270,000 in the name of Whitehorse Stable at last year's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale.
LaPenta "was ecstatic" with the world record, said his racing manager, Ernie Reichard, who talked to his boss on a cell phone during the bidding. Earlier in the day, LaPenta purchased a Storm Cat
-- Add colt for $1,050,000.
The Fusaichi Pegasus colt's appreciation in value of $4.23 million is a yearling-to-juvenile pinhooking record.
Ferguson beat out Sanan for the $3.1-million Stephen Got Even
colt. Ferguson also purchased another seven-figure horse, a $1.5-million son of Rubiano out of the winning Quack mare Magari.Results, Fasig-Tipton