The Fasig-Tipton November select mixed sale enjoyed a tidal wave-like surge in business. The gross revenue rose 17% from a year ago even though the number of lots sold declined 11.2%. The average price increased 31.8% while the median price advanced 53.8% as a large group of foreign and domestic shoppers eagerly pursued fancy stock Nov. 6 in Lexington.
“Obviously, we had a strong sale tonight,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “The number of horses that brought $1 million or more increased from from nine last year to 13. We had a very broad and diverse buying group here tonight, from Japanese, to Australians, to Europeans, to Americans. I’m going to forget somebody and I’ll be in trouble to tomorrow. But it was a broad international level of participation and we had noticed it on the sales grounds three or four days prior to the sale.”
Fasig-Tipton reported that 79 lots (78 horses and a lifetime breeding right to the stallion Congrats ) were sold for a gross of $32,745,000. The average was $414,494 and the median was $200,000.
The buy-back rate was 27.5%, down from 33.1% in 2010.
“I think if you’ve got something the market really wants and the big players really want, it looks as if the money is there,” said Kentucky-based bloodstock agent Lincoln Collins, who is a director of Three Chimneys Farm. “It’s getting harder and harder to buy at the top end. A lot of people at the top end are gaining more confidence and I hope that confidence will seep down gradually through the rest of the market. But it’s going to remain, for the time being, I think, a pretty selective market.”
Grade I winner Funny Moon, who is in foal to Indian Charlie and carrying her first offspring, brought the auction’s top price of $2.3 million. Collins, representing Leonard Riggio’s My Meadowview breeding and racing operation, bought the the 5-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon .
“We very much liked the mare,” Collins said. “We only had two or three mares on our list for the sale. She was an extremely good race mare. She’s good-looking, we like Indian Charlie, and she has a very solid pedigree, so what more can I say? At this level, they’re all expensive, but it (her price) was in the ballpark of what we thought she would bring.”
Consigned by Gainesway, agent, Funny Moon captured the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) in 2009 and the Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) in 2010. She is a half sister to Throng (by Silver Deputy), who won the 2008 Native Dancer Stakes at Laurel Park and the 2007 Dr. Fager Stakes at Arlington Park.
Their dam, Fun Crowd, is an unraced daughter of Easy Goer. But she is a half sister to champion Vanlandingham (by Cox's Ridge) and stakes winners Jenkins Ferry (by True Colors) and Popular Tune (by Stop The Music). Popular Tune is the dam of grade III winner Top Hit (by Twining) and added-money winner Crafty Star (by Crafty Prospector).
Grade I-winning racing or broodmare prospect Dubawi Heights commanded the sale’s second-highest price of $1.6 million and was purchased by Teruya Yoshida’s Shadai Farm of Japan from Noel Murphy’s Castle Park Farm, agent.
“She’s an excellent runner and her conformation is perfect,” said Mitsuru Ikeda, a veterinarian who manages Shadai. “She is a good mover. We would expect her to be a good broodmare. Her price was higher than I expected.”
Ikeda said Dubawi Heights would be retired from racing and sent to Japan. She will be bred in 2012, “maybe to a son of Sunday Silence,” he added.
Dubawi Heights triumphed this year in the Gamely (gr. IT) and Yellow Ribbon (gr. IT) stakes and the Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT). Most recently, she finished sixth in the Nov. 4 Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
A 4-year-old daughter of Dubawi, Dubawi Heights is out of the winner Rosie’s Posy (by Suave Dancer). Rosie’s Posy is a half sister to Tante Rose (by Barathea), a champion in England, and Bay Tree (by Daylami), a stakes winner in England.
“It’s the same story that we’ve told in recent years,” Browning said. “There continues to be significant demand for quality offerings and the better the physical conformation is on the horse – even broodmares – the better the prices are. Physical conformation is still very, very important at all types of sales, including broodmare sales.
“We had strong competition for most of the lots that were offered tonight,” Browning continued. “But when there are what are perceived as a few holes – whether in terms of age or produce or covering sire or something else – it’s not easy. There isn’t a widespread, complete lift in the market. I think there is more competition in the upper levels of the market than we saw last year, which was indicative of what we saw throughout most of the latter part of 2011 in the yearling sales.”
According to Browning, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which were held at nearby Churchill Downs Nov. 4-5, didn’t really contribute to the upswings at the November auction.
“We got no help this year,” Browning said. “After the draw on Monday (Oct. 31), I was thinking, ‘We are going to have some fun given the number of live horses that we have (entered in the sale) running and the dams of the horses that we have running.’ But we really did not have a whole lot of major updates across the board this year. We did not benefit significantly from a lot of dramatic updates in terms of Breeders’ Cup races. Some years you’re going to get some and some years you’re not.”
In another observation, Browning said that while buyers were eager to purchase top-quality horses, they did so with some restraint.
“I think buyer confidence has increased, but you still don’t see silly things happening in the auction ring,” Browning said. “People establish what they think is a range of value and they quit bidding (when the price rises above that). It doesn’t matter who they are or what they are, people still bid with some discipline, which is probably healthy long-term. But it’s a whole lot more fun for sellers and auction companies when people are bidding with kind of an undisciplined, I’ve-got-to-have-it mentality.”