Two days before the Monday start of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale, all the signs were positive for a strong market. Consignors, buyers, and sale company officials were all optimistic on Saturday morning in spite of the wet weather. Numerous pinhookers from Florida were looking at horses, and consignors reported sighting the representatives of such big spenders as Coolmore Stud and Sheikh Mohammed.
Nearly 500 horses are catalogued for the auction, which is the first major event in the yearling selling season.
"I think this is going to be a good market for several reasons, the most important being that Fasig-Tipton does a really good job of picking out good individuals for this sale," said Brereton C. Jones of Airdrie Stud. "There is so much emphasis--properly placed I think--on the strong individual.
"The second reason is the strength of the 2-year-old sales this year. The 2-year-olds that were the good individuals and worked fast outsold their pedigrees dramatically. The pinhookers will have lots of money in their pockets from the 2-year-old sales and will be out trying to do it again. The third reason is I think there is more national focus now on our industry because of Smarty Jones. In addition, Pennsylvania is going to have such dramatic purse increases because of the slot legislation they just passed, and people see that other states are going to probably follow suit."
Kerry Cauthen of Four Star Sales also had a bright outlook.
"Everybody is very enthusiastic," he said. "I came here thinking I had one of my best consignments ever, and from what I hear, everybody else thinks they've got one of their best consignments. My wife (Julie Offut Cauthen) came home last night and said, 'I've looked at 200 horses, and I've got 40 or 50 on my short list; that's just too many.' I think everybody else is saying the same thing. I just saw Mike Mulligan (a Florida pinhooker) and he said, 'There's 50 knockout horses here, and there's 150 useful horses at some place.' Last year we showed 27 times on average for the first day, and yesterday we showed 50 on average for the first day."
Tom Van Meter of Eaton Sales predicted: "The average will be close to $100,000, about what it was last year, and it could be up a little bit."
Said Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson: "This thing has got to be good. There's not a better time to own a horse than right now, and I've been saying that all spring. The level of activity yesterday and today has been fantastic. I know what the horses are, and they are good."
Florida pinhooker Dean De Renzo, who was strolling the barns with partner Randy Hartley, reported: "We've got a nice short list going."
Sessions begin each day at 10 a.m. (EDT) at Fasig-Tipton's Newtown Paddocks facility near Lexington.