Before consignors can expect to receive premium prices for the horses they are offering, they all widely recognize and accept that their stock must first attract the attention of the world’s biggest spenders – agent John Ferguson and the Coolmore Stud group.
It is not unusual for Ferguson, who represents Sheikh Mohammed, and Demi O’Byrne, who buys for Coolmore, to send prices to unprecedented heights, especially when they hook up on the same horse.
Neither Ferguson nor O’Byrne were listed among the buyers at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November selected mixed sale but that did not diminish the success of the auction, which benefited from a dispersal of horses owned by ClassicStar. A total of 170 horses sold in 2006 for $64,130,000 and an average of $377,235. The gross was up 107.3% and the average up 32.9% compared with the 2005 sale.
In this year’s renewal of the sale on Nov. 4, Ferguson emerged as the leading buyer with four horses purchased for a total of $15,750,000. Apparently lured to the sale by some of North America’s most accomplished female runners in recent years, Ferguson signed for four of the top five fillies or mares sold at the auction.
Chief among his purchases was Round Pond, the 2006 Emirates Airlines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner for whom Ferguson went to $5,750,000 to acquire. He also bought Octave, the multiple grade I winner who ran third in the Oct. 27 Distaff, for $4 million. Ferguson’s two other acquisitions – Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I) winner Asi Siempre and grade I winner Indy Five Hundred – were bought for $3 million each.
Coolmore did not sign for any horses at the Fasig-Tipton November sale this year, but it was not for a lack of trying. The Irish-based racing and breeding entity, which operates Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky., was involved in a dispute over Octave, claiming O'Byrne had bid the same amount paid by Ferguson for the filly. The Fasig-Tipton bid spotter reportedly did not see O'Byrne's bid at $4 million so the bid had not been accepted. The filly’s sale to Ferguson was recognized as final.
By the end of the night, Fasig-Tipton had sold 107 horses that grossed $52,036,000, which was 18.9% below the gross from 2006. The average, however, rose 28.9% to $486,318.
The second leading buyers at Fasig-Tipton November were also not among the top 15 buyers at last year’s edition of this sale. The Lael Stables of Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who raced Kentucky Derby – Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro – bought two fillies/mares for a total $3.5 million.
There were some repeat buyers from 2006 at Fasig-Tipton this year, including Stonestreet Holdings, My MeadowView Farm, and WinStar.
My MeadowView, which purchased two for an aggregate $4.8 million last year, spread it out a little more this year, acquiring 11 horses for a total $2,345,000. Stonestreet Holdings, leading buyer in 2006 with five bought for $5,010,000, was fourth this year, paying $2,375,000 for two horses. WinStar made one $3.3 million purchase in 2006 and signed for four totaling $1,460,000 this year.