A $250,000 Harlan's Holiday colt set the bar Oct. 21 as Fasig-Tipton's October yearling sale opened its three-day run and continued the yearling market's upward trend.
Nick de Meric signed for the Harlan's Holiday–Unbridled Melody colt, one of five yearlings to bring $200,000 or more during the opening session in Lexington.
Fasig-Tipton reported that the auction sold 258 yearlings Monday for a gross of $7,358,000, an average price of $28,519, and a $16,500 median. The gross was up by 1.4% despite a catalog that is almost 10% smaller overall. The average price rose 15.6%, and the median fared best of all, rising 26.9%. The buyback rate was 19.6%, down from 20.5%.
De Meric, encouraged by his son, Tristan, said he was "fully extended" to buy the session-topping Harlan's Holiday colt, a New York-bred, from the Taylor Made sales agency. The bay colt attracted the attention of several pinhookers and drew rapid-fire bidding in the arena, where de Meric father and son sat together, as well as from the balcony.
"Tristan is largely to blame, because he kept pushing me, and he did the right thing," De Meric said. "He's a beautiful colt, well-bred, by a top stallion, and he's about as nice a walker as you'd ever see in a yearling. We're excited to have him."
The April 15 foal is out of an Unbridled's Song winner who is a full sister to grade I-placed runner Unbridled Express. The colt's half brother Michael With Us, by Bluegrass Cat, won this year's OBS Championship (Colt and Gelding Division) Stakes and was second in the Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park.
Farther back, the family includes Japanese champion Hishi Akebono, French champion Librettist, and group I winners Agnes World and Dubai Destination. The session-topper likely will head for Klaravich Stables' racing string instead of joining de Meric's resale prospects, de Meric said.
"When you're buying for an end user, you can maybe be a bit more elastic," he said. "But that's a kind of horse you're just glad to have in the barn, no matter which way he ends up."
Some buyers who were unable to fill their demand at Keeneland's far larger September yearling sale were able to complete their list at the October sale, but prices at the top of the market could still be steep. Patti Miller of EQB was among those who bid unsuccessfully against agent Steve Young for a $235,000 Speightstown –Say It With Feelin colt from the family of grade I winners Pussycat Doll and Jimmy Creed, the first yearling to bring six figures and the day's second-most expensive lot.
"We were thinking $100,000 to $150,000, maybe," Miller said of the May 23 foal, a member of the Taylor Made consignment. "He's not a real big colt, but he's a lovely, very good individual who passed the vetting. I think there are still a lot of bargains to be had, but maybe not that one."
Miller came back to sign for another six-figure lot, a $135,000 Malibu Moon colt out of Stormy Bear (by Storm Cat) that she bought for Ahmed Zayat's Zayat Stables. The Maynard Farm agency graduate is a half brother to stakes-placed Ibn Al Nafis.
The barn area and walking rings were heavily populated by pinhookers and trainers, a welcome sign for sellers. Among those looking for both pinhooking and racing prospects was trainer Mark Casse, who also bought at the six-figure level.
Casse picked up a Malibu Moon colt and a Speightstown filly for $200,000, as well as a $150,000 Sky Mesa –State Cup colt from the family of St Averil.
The Malibu Moon colt was the Gainesway agency's son of stakes-winner Social Director (by Deputy Minister) and is a half brother to grade II winner Dream About and to stakes-placed winner Britannia Road. The Speightstown filly–the day's most expensive filly--hailed from the Lane's End agency and is out of another Deputy Minister mare, the winless Social Savvy; she is a half sister to grade III-placed stakes winner Stella Mark and stakes-placed winner Word Association, both by Benchmark.
Casse's Sky Mesa colt came from the Three Chimneys consignment and currently is named Ardrosa Sky.
Ashbrook Farm of Versailles, Ky., also picked up a $200,000 colt, this one an Indian Charlie half brother to 2006 Blue Grass Stakes winner Sinister Minister that Pauls Mill consigned.
Among international buyers, Korean interests stood out, reflecting the continuing keen interest that nation has in American bloodstock. KOID, the buying agency that bids for the Korean Racing Association and the Seoul Racehorse Owners Association, picked up 13 yearlings Monday for a total of $237,000.
Fasig-Tipton's October yearling sale will continue through Oct. 23 at the company's Newtown Paddocks in Lexington. Sessions begin each day at 10 a.m. EDT.