Business boomed at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November select mixed sale in 2008 when Better Than Honour brought a world Thoroughbred auction record price of $14 million for a broodmare and future champion Stardom Bound sold for $5.7 million after winning the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). This year, without the same star power, the auction suffered sharp downturns of 59.4% in gross revenue, 52.7% in average price, and 32% in median price Nov. 10 in Lexington even though seven horses sold for amounts of $1 million or more apiece.
“You have to begin by saying there were two horses last year that brought roughly $20 million in Better Than Honour and Stardom Bound,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “Anybody who is an observer of the Thoroughbred business knew that when they picked up the catalog this year, there weren’t two horses that were going to bring $20 million. Those were very unusual circumstances last year, and it’s a wonderful addition when you have those kind of horses in your catalog. But if that’s the standard you’re going to hold yourself to, you’re going to be disappointed 19 out of 20 years or 24 out of 25 years. We knew this year's sale was going to be more difficult than last year's sale, which was a phenomenal exercise. Statistically, it’s virtually impossible to compare this sale to last year’s.”
The 78 horses that sold grossed $28,505,000 and averaged $365,449. The median was $170,000. In 2008, the 91 horses that sold grossed $70,279,000 and averaged $772,297. The median was $250,000.
The buy-back rate fell from 39.3% last year to 29.7% this year.
“It (the market) was fairly strong this year,” Browning said. “It’s the same thing that you’ve been hearing us say for many, many years. The quality horses have significant demand, very good activity on them, and a ton of interest. The ones that don’t tick all the boxes or have questions in their produce record, or questions about their covering sire, or questions about their cover date are very difficult to sell in the market we are experiencing right now.”
Holiday Runner, the dam of grade I winner Seventh Street (by Street Cry), sold for the auction’s top price of $2,150,000 to Frank Lyon Jr. and his wife, Jane, of Summer Wind Farm near Georgetown, Ky. The immediate underbidder was Bruce Hill, the general manager of Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Stud in Florida.
“She has it all,” said Jane Lyon of Holiday Runner. “She could run; she is absolutely gorgeous; and she’s proven that she’s a grade I producer. She’s the total package. I think here are a number of phenomenal choices (among stallions) out there for this mare. We’re pretty excited. We lost a very precious mare, Onaga, this year, and we were looking to replace her with something that was capable of producing the kind of horse that we hope to breed. It (the price) was over our budget. But every now and then a horse comes along that is special, and we’re hoping this one will be special for us.”
This past August, the Lyons, through Will Farish’s Lane’s End, sold a Storm Cat – Onaga colt named On a Storm, who was the $2.8-million sale topper at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling auction. The couple, through Taylor Made Sales Agency, also sold a $2,050,000 Storm Cat colt out of champion Fleet Indian named Storm ’n Indian, who was the most expensive horse at this year's Keeneland September yearling auction.
Holiday Runner, who is in foal to Tiznow , was consigned to the Fasig-Tipton November sale by Baccari Bloodstock, agent. In 2002, she scored in the Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Fashion Stakes at Belmont Park.
Seventh Street, Holiday Runner’s first foal, captured this year’s Apple Blossom (gr. I) and Go for Wand (gr. I) Handicaps, and she most recently finished eighth in the Nov. 6 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I). Holiday Runner’s other offspring include the winner Reynaldothewizard (by Speightstown ), who was third in the 2008 Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II).
Private Feeling, the dam of grade I winner Lookin At Lucky (by Smart Strike ) and grade II winner Kensai (by Mr. Greeley), brought the Fasig-Tipton auction’s second-highest price of $2 million from Live Oak’s Hill. Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, the 10-year-old winning daughter of Belong to Me is in foal to Mr. Greeley. Out of the winning, stakes-placed Clever Trick mare Regal Feeling, Private Feeling is a half-sister to grade III winner Grand Charmer (by Lord Avie), whose daughter, Flirtatious, produced champion Wait a While.
Lookin At Lucky captured the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) and the Norfolk (gr. I) and Best Pal (gr. II) Stakes this year. He finished second, beaten only a head by Vale of York, in the Nov. 7 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Kensai won this year’s Jim Dandy (gr. II) and Dwyer (gr. II) Stakes.
“Belong to Me is a good broodmare sire, and her produce record pretty well did it all for us; pretty is as pretty does,” Hill said. “She’s proven and she’s obvious, but hopefully we can keep that (success) up. With all due respect to everybody else, we thought that Lookin At Lucky was the best horse in the field (of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) after the race. With his post position (No. 13), what he had to go through, and the way he closed, he appeared to be the best horse in there with all due respect to the winner.”
Private Feeling’s price “was about as far as we were going to go,” Hill said. “We were hoping for $1.5 million, so we pushed a little bit. We’re very pleased to have her. We don’t know for sure (which stallion she’ll be bred to). We’ll kick that around a little bit before we make that decision. We don’t have that firmed up yet. She’s carrying a colt (based on fetal sex determination), but that didn’t have any impact at all on our buying her. Colt or filly, we would have been good.”
Grade I winner Magical Fantasy, who was offered as a broodmare or racing prospect, sold for the auction’s third-highest price of $1.8 million. Tetsuya Yoshida signed the sale ticket for Shadai Farm, which is operated by his father, Teruya Yoshida. The younger Yoshida said the 4-year-old daughter of Diesis out of the winning Easy Goer mare Kissing Gate would not race again, but would be sent to Japan to be bred. Magical Fantasy is a half-sister to Forward Move (by Dr Fong), an added-money winner in England.
Consigned by Eaton Sales, agent, Magical Fantasy won the John C. Mabee (gr. IT), Gamely (gr. IT), and Yellow Ribbon (gr. IT) Stakes and the Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) this year while racing for David Bienstock, Paul Mandabach, and Charles Winner. She also triumphed in the 2008 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT). In her last race prior to the Fasig-Tipton November sale, Magical Fantasy finished fifth in the Nov. 6 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
The other horses bringing seven-figure prices included champion Ginger Punch and grade I winner Lady Joanne, who sold for $1.6 million apiece and were consigned by Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs. Katsumi Yoshida of Northern Farm in Japan bought 6-year-old Ginger Punch (by Awesome Again), who is in foal to Bernardini. The purchase was a private transaction that took place after Ginger Punch was bought back for $1.3 million. Dr. Masatake Iida of Japan purchased 5-year-old Lady Joanne (by Orientate), who is in foal to Tiznow.
“We had tremendous international participation,” Browning said. “Buyers from Australia were very strong; the French were represented very well; and the Japanese were tremendous. But that being said, the two most expensive horses were sold to Americans. It was a very, very diverse group of buyers. I think our catalog has gotten more international credibility, and we have the types of horses that have more international appeal.”