by Esther Marr, Frank Angst, and Melaina Phipps
Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning admits there was apprehension leading up to the inaugural Summer Horses of Racing Age sale, which immediately followed the sale company’s selected yearling sale July 15 in Lexington.
One concern behind placing the two sales in such close proximity was that the horses of racing age sale had the potential of taking dollars away from the yearling market.
“There were times when we scratched our heads and said, ‘What are we doing?’ ” Browning confessed. “But we live in an evolving world…from talking and listening to our consignors and buyers, we found there was a need for a vehicle to sell horses of racing age in an organized fashion at this time of the year with some standards and requirements.”
When all was said and done, 55 racing-age horses sold for $5,819,000. That included grade I winner Starship Truffles, who sold for $1 million to Castleton Lyons.
“It was a tremendous success,” Browning said. “It was nice to have a new initiative that worked successfully…the horses that sold ranged from $10,000 to $1 million, so we had something there for everybody. We were very pleased.”
Fasig-Tipton officials worked strategically throughout the spring to recruit appropriate horses, such as Chris Baccari’s 3-year-old Speightstown colt Eastwood, who fetched $800,000 from Louise and Kiki Courtelis’ Town & Country Farms as the highest-priced colt.
Baccari believed it was in his best interest to enter Eastwood in a public auction rather than sell him privately.
“I had a lot of interest in the horse before (the sale), but I had a lot more when people realized he was in the sale and got to see what kind of Ragozin numbers he was running,” Baccari explained. “Fasig-Tipton really helped market the horse.”
Baccari added that the numbers for the yearling sale, which saw significant increases in both average and median, could have been stronger because of the horses of racing age sale.
“I think it was a good idea on Boyd’s part to try it…sometimes you can get accidental business (from sales such as this),” he said. “You may have a guy coming to buy a racehorse and he’s not looking to buy a yearling, but his agent is there and looks at a pedigree he knows something about. Even if he doesn’t buy the horse, he could be the underbidder, and that’s another important part of our business that people forget about…you have to have people making sure bidders are being honest about what they pay for (the horses).”
After Shannon Potter of Taylor Made Sales Agency signed the ticket for Eastwood on behalf of Town & Country, he noted that while the horses of racing age sale may have lacked some depth due to its newness, the results were positive.
“The sale has been great timing,” he said. “The 3-year-old prep is over, and the Breeders’ Cup is on the way.”
Browning said the sale would return in 2014.
“There were literally people here from the very first horse (of the yearling sale) to the last horse (of the horses of racing age sale),” said Browning. “So there was a ton of interest…there were people that had an affinity toward one sale or the other, but the one thing we do know now is that the yearling and horses of racing age sales were complementary and not competitive.”
At the July yearling sale Jim Wells and Everett Dobson completed a successful pinhook when their Desert Party filly brought a sale-topping $460,000 from Nat Rea’s Regis Farms.
Allied Bloodstock consigned the Desert Party filly, who was landed by Wells and Dobson’s Candy Meadows Farm for just $85,000 at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
“She was a tremendous individual the first time I saw her. She had the presence about her and the style; she just kind of looked like a little cover girl at that time. Of course, she started growing and everything has to stay in order during that time and it did,” Wells said. “She didn’t fall apart; she’s very well-balanced.”
While Dobson, who co-owned 2011 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) winner Caleb's Posse , is most interested in racing, Wells said they try to run a diverse operation, including pinhooking.
“It’s just a different phase of the game. You try to play every phase to a degree. (Dobson is) primarily into the racehorse business; that’s where his primary interest lies—he likes to race them, and he’s been successful at it and done well so far,” Wells said. “But you like to do some things on the side that keep things rolling and interest up. We’re trying to make the farm stand on its own two feet. In order to do that, you have to do different phases of the business.”
Wells said the plan was always to pinhook the Desert Party filly, but the racing operation provided a fallback option.
“Some people are married to the sales, but we’re in a position where we don’t have to sell,” Wells said. “We could have bought her back, and we would have felt good about racing her.”
Bradley Leading Buyer
Lexington-based bloodstock agent Pete Bradley, the leading buyer at the July yearling sale, was feeling more than satisfied with his purchases following the July 15 auction.
“It was a very solid sale and a good group of individuals…hats off to (Fasig-Tipton executive) Bill Graves and the rest of the staff for finding that kind of quality of horses,” said Bradley, who paid a collective $888,000 for nine yearlings, an average of about $98,667 per horse. “We knew it was going to be a strong market…and I think that’s only going to continue into the rest of the yearling season. Our plan was to be aggressive to pinhook horses to be re-sold in the 2-year-old sales.”
Bradley added that while he “stretched further than we wanted to on a couple” of yearlings pricewise, he’s often been rewarded later for his commitment to buying quality individuals.
Included in Bradley’s most recent group of yearlings were five six-figure horses, the most expensive of which was Hip No. 157, a $170,000 filly by Harlan's Holiday—Tasha’s Star, by Spanish Steps, whom he purchased from Candyland Farm, agent.
“She was one we pressed on a bit, but her full sister (Esmeraldina) brought $325,000 this past March at Barretts (Equine Limited) and we’ve had some luck with her family,” said Bradley.
Bradley, who gained a wide variety of experience in the Thoroughbred industry prior to starting his own agency—from farm management to private sales—also sells seasons, plans matings, and puts together racing partnerships through his Bradley Thoroughbreds. It appears much of his success has stemmed from his eye for spotting a good horse and being aggressive about getting it.
“A lot of people think we’re looking for quick-developing sprinter types (at the yearling sales), but that’s not the case,” he said. “We’re actually looking for a horse that has a little more size and scope that could go two turns. Obviously, you also need the speed factor, but we’re looking for athletes that we think will make racehorses.”
Desert Party Time
New stallion Desert Party garnered some attention when his filly out of the Kris S. mare Lil Cozette topped the July yearling sale at $460,000.
In all Desert Party, who entered stud in 2011 at Darley in Lexington and stood his first two seasons for $10,000, had five of his first-crop yearlings sell for $626,000 (average $123,200). For the 2013 season Desert Party was shipped to New York to stand for Darley at Becky Thomas’ Sequel Stallions near Hudson for $7,500.
According to Darley’s head of sales Charlie Boden, Darley’s Girolamo received good support in New York at Sequel, giving them confidence to try Desert Party there.
“We’re not afraid to move horses around in order to service clientele in different locations,” Boden said. “We’re trying to build some clientele in the breeding program in New York because we believe that it will be significant and is improving.”
Boden said the July sale should draw some attention to Desert Party and he suspects breeders will like what they see.
“He’s a beautiful horse, a gorgeous animal—and by a stallion (Street Cry) that wasn’t known for getting the best-looking horses,” Boden said. “He’s a big horse with a lot of scope, very correct, and plenty of substance and bone…and he’s thrown horses that are similar to him.
“I think he’s one of the best-looking horses we stand. (Darley) owns and stands three very nice-looking Street Crys: Street Boss , Street Sense , and Desert Party. They are all really tremendous physical specimens in their own right, and (Desert Party) is probably the best of the three.”
As for the 2014 breeding season, a final decision as to where Desert Party will stand will likely be made in the early fall.