With nearly 4,500 yearlings catalogued to the Keeneland September auction, buyers and consignors could have been forgiven if they had paid little attention to the Texas summer yearling sale held at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie on Aug. 27-28. But contrarians like Kentucky-based consignor Kathryn Earley and Florida pinhooker Hoby Kight seized opportunities they thought existed in a regional marketplace. Earley, leading consignor to the sale by average, with five yearlings selling for an average price of $47,280, said coming to Texas was the right move for her. "I brought all my best horses," she said. "They may have gotten overlooked in September (at Keeneland), but you can really showcase your horses here." Kight, who operates a small but successful pinhooking operation in Florida and also buys yearlings for top Texas owner Tom Durant, said his goal was to fill all of his orders before the mammoth Keeneland sale arrived. Kight accomplished his mission, buying three yearlings in Texas for a total of $68,000 to go with earlier purchases at Fasig-Tipton's Kentucky yearling sale and the recent Ocala Breeders' Sales Company auction in Florida. But Kight said buyers coming to Texas may have been disappointed if they expected to find bargains among well-conformed yearlings with good pedigrees. One of those horses was a daughter of Holy Bull out of Queen of Bronze, by Roberto, consigned by Bruce and Joan Buechner's Oklahoma-based NoName Ranch, agent, during the Aug. 27 select portion of the sale. The gray filly received a sale-topping bid of $95,000 from former California trainer Michael Mollica, acting on behalf of the Gibraltar Group, a partnership headed by Connecticut auto dealer Stephen J. Barberino. Barberino's S.J. Bee Stable includes recent Sanford Stakes (gr. II) winner Buster's Daydream. Among the underbidders on the filly was Kight, who made an $88,000 bid for Durant before dropping out. "That was a nice filly, but she might not have brought more than $25,000 in September at Keeneland," said Kight. She was pinhooked by the Buechners, who paid $13,500 for her at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. The sale topper fell short of the record $150,000 paid last year by Durant for a Hennessy colt. But most other economic measurements were up from 2000, if only modestly.
During the select session, 74 yearlings sold for $1,841,600, an average of $24,886 and median of $18,000. Revenue dropped by 3.1%, though average increased 2.1% and median gained 2.9% from 2000, when 78 sold for $1,901,100, an average of $24,373 and median of $17,500. Forty-two of 116 offered, 36.2%, failed to meet their reserve, up sharply from the 2000 select session buy-back rate of 25.7%
During the open sessions, 184 yearlings sold for $1,064,000, an average of $5,786 and median of $3,750, increases of 6.8%, 16.1%, and 17.2%, respectively. Last year's open sessions saw 200 sell for $996,700, an average of $4,984 and median of $3,200. RNAs increased from 25.4% to 30.3%, with 80 of the 264 offered failing to meet their reserve.
Combined, the sale produced $2,906,200 in gross revenues, an average of $11,264 and median of $5,600 from the 258 sold, increases of 0.3%, 7.8%, and 19.1%, respectively. Last year's combined totals were 277 sold for $2,895,300, an average of $10,452 and median of $4,700.
The sale produced nearly 15% less revenue in 2001 than it did in 1997, the first year Fasig-Tipton contracted with the Texas Thoroughbred Association to conduct Thoroughbred auctions. The 1997 sale included a select session, which was dropped the following year and then reinstated in 1999. A number of consignors have said they would like to see Fasig-Tipton again drop the select session and follow the format of its successful Midlantic yearling sale, held in October. Director of sales Tim Boyce said an advisory committee would be polled following the sale to determine whether or not to continue the select session. "We're not going to be deaf to the market," Boyce said. Leading buyers were Amarillo, Texas, ranchers Miles Childers and Ed Wright, who were accompanied by trainer Bernie Flint and bought six yearlings for a total of $264,000. Childers said his family had raced horses in the past but he decided to start buying horses after attending the 2000 Kentucky Derby. "That fired me up to get in it," said Childers, who brought Wright in as a partner. Valid Expectations, currently the leading freshman sire by progeny earnings, sired the top-priced colt, produced from the Conquistador Cielo mare, Andy's Bonus. Jeffry Morris' Highclere Sales, agent, sold the colt, who was purchased by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable for $85,000. The Huisache Farm stallion also was leading sire by average, three or more sold, with three selling for an average of $55,000.