With this year's edition of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in the record books, the focus of the Maryland Thoroughbred industry turned to selling horses Monday. A strapping Chief Seattle colt was the standout, bringing $350,000 to top the opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic preferred sale of 2-year-olds in training at Timonium.
The auction fell behind last year's pace on its opening day, suffering declines in the number of horses sold, gross revenue, average price, and median price.
Canadian Danny Dion of Bear Stables purchased the colt, beating out William Entenmann of Timber Bay Farm. Dion, who is in the oil exploration business and lives in the province of Alberta, was accompanied by trainer Reade Baker.
"We were trying to buy the best horse in the sale, and I think we bought him," Baker said. "He's a big, rangy horse that worked fast, and that's what we're here for. You dream of getting a big-time horse, and he's a big-time horse."
The dark bay or brown colt, who stands a little over 16 hands, worked a quarter mile in :21 3/5 before the auction. He is out of the 15-year-old Foolish Pleasure mare Sabreen, a three-time winner who finished third in the 1994 Debutante Breeders' Cup Stakes at Bay Meadows. The colt is a half-brother to Briartic Gold (by Son of Briartic), who captured the 2004 Independence Day Handicap at Emerald Downs. Other members of the family include grade II winner Sintra and grade III winners Birdie's Legend, Patagonia Vieja, and Wanderkin.
Florida pinhooker Murray Smith consigned the colt as agent. She purchased him as a yearling privately from Jessie and Stacy Longoria, who had bought him for $16,000 at the 2005 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Smith declined to reveal what she paid for the colt.
"He's been special since day one," Smith said. "He has the Seattle Slew head and eye. He's done everything right. He's a big, powerful horse that has a whole lot of gears."
A Monarchos filly sold for the second-highest price Monday, bringing a $320,000 final bid from Patrice Miller of EQB. Miller wouldn't disclose the name of her client
"I was the underbidder," trainer Steve Klesaris told Miller after the filly left the sale ring. Klesaris is recovering from injuries suffered in a traffic accident last Friday. Wearing sunglasses to cover his bruised, swollen, and stitched-up right eye, he said "medication" was helping him to cope with the pain while shopping for horses.
The gray or roan filly breezed a quarter-mile in :22. A half-sister to three winners, she is out of the 14-year-old winning His Majesty mare Palangana, who is a half-sister to 1985 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) and Ark-La-Tex Handicap (gr. III) winner Westheimer.
Former-trainer-turned-pinhooker Carlos Morales and New Yorker Joe Appelbaum's Off the Hook Partners consigned the filly as agent. Morales and Appelbaum said she was owned in partnership by Off the Hook, Taylor Made Farm of Kentucky, and Rafael Celis. Appelbaum purchased the filly for $150,000 at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale.
The final figures for the session were 176 horses sold for a gross of $9,158,700, an average of $52,038, and a median of $29,500. Compared to a year ago, when 183 horses were sold, the gross declined 6.8% and the average fell 3.1%. The median dropped 7.8%. The other numbers for 2006 were a gross of $9,827,000, an average $53,699, and a median of $32,000.
The buy-back rate was about the same, 27.6% this year compared to 27.4% last year.
"It was a very realistic market," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "I thought it was a fair market for both buyers and sellers. It wasn't crazy in very many spots."
The statistics could rise during Tuesday's second and final session, which will start at 11 a.m. (EDT), according to Browning.
"The buyers have told us because of the way the catalog fell that the day two horses were better this year than the day one horses, so I think we might see a few more fireworks at the top," he said. "I don't think the $350,000 colt will top the sale this year. I would be surprised if it did."