Fasig-Tipton's October yearling sale rang up a second consecutive day of gains Oct. 22 at a session that saw Conquest Stable and trainer Mark Casse pluck the two most expensive yearlings, including a half sister to Conquest's current grade I winner My Conquestadory.
Tuesday's second of three sessions sold 273 yearlings for $10,025,400, up 25.8% from last year's total for 297 horses. The $36,723 average price was 36.9% higher than last year's, and the $18,000 median improved on last year's figure by 28.6%.The buyback rate this year was a slender 15.4%, down from last season's 18.6%.
Conquest and Casse sliced off the top of the market, buying the session-topping $500,000 Distorted Humor–Annasan colt and the day's top-priced filly, the $320,000 Horse Greeley –Golden Artemis filly who is a half to My Conquestadory.
That pair were among six yearlings to bring $200,000 or more at the auction. Bidders hardly had time to settle into their seats Tuesday morning before the Distorted Humor colt set the market alight, racing past last year's $440,000 sale-topping price.
The battle for the colt settled down to Nat Rea and Mark Casse, the latter representing Ernie Semersky and Dory Newell's Conquest Stable, and when the hammer finally fell at $500,000, Conquest was the winner.
"He told me to go find a good Canadian-bred," Casse said of Semersky, whose Semersky Enterprises in Chicago owns a number of high-end automobile dealerships. "I just talked to him on the phone and he said, 'Is this one really good?' I said, 'This one is really good.' I told him he was going to be expensive, but I didn't really tell him what price, so I'm sure he'll be fine with it."
But Casse acknowledged that the bidding had run hotter than he liked. "With those horses, it's tough to know," he said. "I was getting a little … I was wanting it to stop."
The March 2 chestnut colt—currently named Hot Humor—is out of Canada's 2004 Broodmare of the Year Annasan, by Corporate Report. That makes him a three-quarter brother to Canada's 2005 Horse of the Year A Bit O'Gold, to grade III-placed stakes-winner Arco's Gold, and to stakes-placed Adjalah.
Steven DiIorio bred the colt, and John Sikura's HIll 'n' Dale Sales agency was the consignor.
Casse trains Breeders' Cup hopefuls My Conquestadory and Conquest Titan for Semersky and Newell, who have struck lucky since getting into the game in 2012. Asked whether recent Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) winner My Conquestadory had come out of her Oct. 21 workout well, Casse reached into a trouser pocket and pulled out a wooden key fob.
"Yes," he said, tapping the wood with his right index finger.
It was only fitting that Casse and Conquest Stable also snapped up My Conquestadory's half sister.
"I had no idea what she'd bring, and he didn't even tell me what to bid on her," Casse said, referring to Semersky. Casse said that, while he had no explicit instructions regarding the Horse Greeley filly, Semersky had said: "I just want Mr. Tackett to do well."
The dark bay filly, an April 18 foal, was one of just two lots sired by the sophomore stallion by Horse Greely and was consigned by Paul Tackett, who bred her and her famous sister. Hip 736 got a big update when My Conquestadory won the Oct. 4 Alcibiades for her second consecutive win.
Casse and breeder Tackett both saw similarities between the October yearling and her older half sister.
"I can see the same neck and back and stuff," Casse. said "There's a lot of similarities. Hopefully, she runs as fast. Or not even quite as fast, just as long as she runs fast it would be good."
Horse Greeley, whose first foals are three this year, had a good sale with just two entries. His other lot, a colt out of the stakes-placed Forest Wildcat mare Cat Out, brought $97,000. The buyer was Casse's brother, trainer Justin Casse.
Hip 401 also got a grade I update on Keeneland's opening weekend when his half brother, We Miss Artie, captured the Dixiana Breeders' Futurity. We Miss Artie's younger brother by Arch fetched a final bid of $75,000 Tuesday but failed to reach his reserve, and he was returned to Bernard McCormack's Cara Bloodstock consignment.
So far, Mark Casse has been one of the auction's most active high-end buyers. At Monday's opening session, he bought three horses totaling $550,000, including a $200,000 Speightstown –Social Savvy daughter from the Lane's End agency that was that session's most expensive filly.
On Tuesday, Casse tallied up another five yearlings for $1,375,000.
Six yearlings brought $200,000 or more. In addition to the session-topper, they were a $245,000 Eskendereya –Frosty Promise filly, a half sister to multiple graded winner Icy Atlantic and grade III winner Wild Promises, that Justin Casse bought from Craig and Holly Bandoroff's Denali Stud; a $210,000 Smart Strike –Dangerous Diva filly that Stoneway Farm bought from Grousemont Farm (Eaton Sales, agent); a $200,000 Giant's Causeway–Capital Request colt that Mark Casse bought from Eaton Sales; and a $200,000 Tiznow filly out of grade I winner Downthedustyroad that John Behrendt and Charles Marquis bought, also from Eaton's consignment for Grousemont.
The Oct. 22 session also featured the sale of a Dynaformer colt believed to be the prominent sire's last foal. Calumet Farm went to $140,000 to secure the Feb. 19 colt out of the stakes-placed A.P. Indy mare Aztec Pearl. Consigned by Damian and Braxton Lynch's Royal Oak Farm, the $140,000 Dynaformer–Aztec Pearl colt is a half brother to two winners so far.
The going was not always good, though, and buyers were prepared to walk away in the face of an aggressive reserve. Two horses failed to sell on hammer prices above $200,000, and two more went home after hammering for more than $100,000.
"Demand definitely seems to be here, but there's a ceiling," said consignor Meg Levy of Bluewater Sales. "In our experience so far, we had lots and lots of showing, but on the real quality horses, the market is thin. It's only a couple of people.
"But there's certainly a healthy market here. People are a little more picky than they were in September, and they don't want to go over the top. But this is a good horse sale, and there's a place for horses to go here."
The Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale continues through Oct. 23. The final session will begin at 10 a.m. EDT at Fasig-Tipton's Newtown Paddocks pavilion in Lexington.