The skies were cloudy over south Florida Feb. 28, but the outlook was bright for the Fasig-Tipton select sale of 2-year-olds in training. The sale barns were busy as top buyers such as Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager John Ferguson, Demi O'Byrne of the Coolmore Stud team, and Terry Yoshida of Shadai Farm in Japan got their last look at the horses before the auction, which will begin at 11 a.m. (EST) March 1 at Calder Race Course.
"We had a very nice breeze show (Sunday)," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "The pre-sale level of activity in the barns today continues to be very strong as it was really throughout all of last week, when consignors reported they were busy Monday through Saturday. It sure likes most of the significant buyers in the world are here, and they're certainly out looking at horses. We've got a good group of horses, and we've got a good group of buyers. We're optimistic it will be a strong sale tomorrow."
In addition to veteran buyers of 2-year-olds at Calder, there might be some new faces. Shigeyuke Okada of Big Red Farm in Japan is expected to make his first appearance at the auction. Rick Nichols, a key adviser to Shadwell Stud's Sheikh Hamdan, who traditionally has been a yearling buyer, was seen in the barn area looking at juveniles. Representatives of California wine tycoon Jess Jackson, who has become a major player at Thoroughbred auctions in the last several years, also have inspected horses.
"I think there are going to be some new players this year and some new activity involving old faces," Browning said.
Last year's Fasig-Tipton auction was the biggest juvenile sale ever in terms of gross revenue ($41,586,000) and average price ($292,859). In addition, a Fusaichi Pegasus
colt, later named Fusaichi Samurai, shattered a world record for a 2-year-old in training when he sold for $4.5 million. Dubai Dreamer, a son of Stephen Got Even
also surpassed the previous world mark when he brought $3.1 million.
Many consignors believe the good times will continue to roll. Following are some of their thoughts about this year's edition of the auction:
Niall Brennan: "I think it will be a very strong sale. There's been tremendous interest. It's the premier 2-year-old sale now. People want to come. They expect to see good horses here. Good horses come out of this sale. We've been swamped here at the barn, and I had never seen so many people at a breeze show before yesterday."
Dean DeRenzo: "It's been busy throughout the 16 days we've been here. That was surprising because the last several years it was just the end of the 16 days that you got busy. That tells me people are very interested in horses."
Tony Bowling: "It's got to be strong. We have shown our two best colts (by Forestry
and Saint Ballado) in the neighborhood of 130 to 150 times each, and the best thing about it is that several serious people have looked, not twice, but four or five times. Just looking around, there are a lot of serious players here. And I think it's pretty much common knowledge that the average (for yearlings to pinhook) for this sale was very high, and so everybody is coming here knowing that they have to pay some money for these horses, especially the nicer ones that float to the top. I've got to believe that if you're in the top 10% of this sale that it will be huge."
Hoby Kight: "We've had a lot of activity all week. We've used up 140 or 150 show cards, and that is a lot. There's been a lot of interest. If the Japanese are live (buyers), I think it's going to be a really good sale."