The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale ended Aug. 7 in upstate New York with declines in its gross revenue, average price, and median price. Here's what some people had to say about the market and the quality of the horses:
Seth Semkin (adviser to buyer B. Wayne Hughes): "I thought overall it was a good group of yearlings. We saw a lot of horses that we liked, and we vetted quite a few. But we didn't see a lot that were standing out from the rest of the bunch, but there were a couple. I saw quite a few fillies that I liked, but he (Hughes) just isn't in the market for them unless they meet certain criteria.
"The market can't constantly go up and up and up. It's got to stop somewhere, I would think."
Tom VanMeter (Eaton Sales): "The market was pretty solid. We were pretty conservative (with reserves). We didn’t have tons of bidders for every horse. It was a one-bid-over-the-reserve kind of thing."
Kevin McKathan (Florida pinhooker and agent): "I think they (the consignors) are a little guarded. They’re still trying to feel out the market and see what's going on. But still it feels like to me, when you walk up there (to the sale ring), that horses are bringing more than you would hope to give for them, so I feel like it's a good market.
"The market is very thin as far as buyers go, especially at the 2-year-old sales. It seems like the recreational user isn't around as much as he used to be. The higher-end end users are always going to be there , and they're always shopping for the same horse. But you don’t seem to have the doctors and the lawyers who felt like they had money and would buy three or four horses a year and race them just to enjoy themselves. It's almost like all of it has become a business at this stage. We’ve turned a lot of our end users into pinhookers, so that makes it tougher."
Tom Goff (Blandford Bloodstock of England): "It's early days, but it would appear on the face of i, that nothing has changed in that, if you've got a quality horse to sell that jumps through all the veterinary hoops, it is going to make good money and it might make more than it's worth. If you haven't, then things are a bit tough, aren't they? If you haven’t got the right horse, it's going to be tough for you to sell regardless of what the prevailing market conditions are. The current exchange rate is certainly very much in favor of those people who are not buying in dollars; it's not just the Europeans."
Craig Bandoroff (Denali Stud): "The numbers (in the catalog) are up, and any time the numbers are up, the average is going to come down. I've kind of adopted this expression that I think really applies to these markets: Good's not good enough. If you lead a very good horse in there and it can pass the vet and do everything it has to do, there is a very good market for it. If you lead a good one in there, there is a minimal market for it.
"When they (the yearling-to-juvenile pinhookers) are out there preaching how they are going to be more conservative, that attitude gets picked up by the end user, too. He (the end user) says, 'You know what, maybe I don’t have to be as aggressive,' and he doesn't stretch like he used to stretch.
"It (the market) doesn't look that that bad to me. There's an Aldebaran for $300,000, a Lion Heartfor $200,000, an Awesome Again for $300,000, a Distorted Humor for $800,000. You have to look at the multiples (of the stud fee) and what you've got in them, not the (sale) average (whether it's up or down)."
Russell Jones, Walnut Green: "I thought it was a fair horse sale for what was being offered and what was paid. I didn't think it was crazy, and maybe we are comparing it to things that were crazy. It's all right to be down if you're comparing it to crazy.
"I expected the market to lighten up a little bit this year because we were getting out of whack with the quantity of sellers compared to the quantity of buyers. There's an imbalance. The other thing is that, in most jurisdictions, you're not seeing rises in prize money, except for the ones where there is a certain non-racing circumstance that brings in the money. So, how can the prize money stay level or go down nationally and the yearling prices continue to rise? It doesn't make any sense."
Tommy Eastham, Legacy Bloodstock: "I think it's a fair sale. We’ve been busy; we've had a lot of the right people around. We’ve seen a little bit of a correction, and that was kind of predicted going in. I'm not really surprised by it. I think the Keeneland September yearling sale is going to be okay. The market is eventually going to come back around and be fine. The year is young and people aren't being overly aggressive and shooting all their bullets early."
Hoby Kight, Florida pinhooker: "Horses are bringing what they’re worth. Horses that are supposed to bring a million dollars, they bring it. Horses that are worth $300,000 or $400,000, they’re bringing it. This is not a balloon market. It's the real world. The ones I want still cost a lot, but I think it’s a fair trade."
Jerry Bailey, Florida pinhooker: "We think it's been a very, very selective market. What's new? The higher profile horses sold well and the rest of the horses, they can't get them sold or they sell them right at the reserves. There is pretty honest money for the right horses."
Lance Robinson, Jerry Bailey's Utah-based pinhooking partner: "It isn't a washout. We’re selling horses and getting them sold. Are they breakaway prices? No, they’re not breakaway prices.
"On the other hand, we don’t feel like we're able to buy the horses that would work for us for what we think they’re worth. So, it's a two-edged sword for us. The horses with the good physicals, the good pedigrees, and the good vet reports are still hard for us to buy."
Michael Hernon, Gainesway: "The market here is a little on the narrow side. We haven’t seen a lot of new people. In fact, they are very scarce. Some of the New York trainers have been a little bit conspicuous by their absence, with the exception of a handful. One can only assume they don't have any orders at this time. Maybe we'll see more of them in September at Keeneland, where there is a significantly larger number of horses to choose from."
Wayne Sweezey, Darby Dan Farm: "I try to stay a little bit more conservative (with reserves) up here because I want to get the horses sold. We come all the way up here, and it's like where else are we going to go if we don't sell the horses here? I knew we had good stock going in, so I wasn't too awfully worried with the way we were going to end up."