With apologies to the Beach Boys, there have been some good vibrations going on at Calder Race Course in the days leading up to Tuesday's Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training. The auction could benefit from the participation of Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai and Ryanair founder Tony Ryan of Ireland. Both men have been very active in other areas of the Thoroughbred market, but have not been prominent before as buyers at juvenile sales.
John Ferguson, Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager, attended the Fasig-Tipton auction's first under tack show on Feb. 17. Ryan was at Sunday's final under tack show. Dressed in a sport coat and a straw hat, he watched the proceedings next to the track near the finish line.
"We've had two great breeze shows and both of them were well-attended by the right kind of people," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Our preliminary assessment of the individuals on the grounds is that we think it's a very good group of horses. At this stage, it looks like we're going to have a pretty successful sale. But the buyers will tell us Tuesday if we were right or wrong."
Prince Ahmed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, a veteran Fasig-Tipton buyer, was at the first under tack show. Other lookers have included trainers Bill Mott, Todd Pletcher, and John Kimmel. Katsumi Yoshida of Northern Farm and a number of other Japanese also have been active.
Buzz Chace, a leading buyer of juveniles, said the first under tack show on Feb. 17 was probably the best he had ever attended.
"There are a lot of nice horses here; they are much better than they were last year," he said. "Nearly all of the ones that worked fast stood up physically to what they showed on the track when you looked at them back at the barn."
Said consignor Dean De Renzo: "I liked the amount of people that we had looking. Something that is different this year is that they are looking at all the horses in your consignment, not just the one or two that worked the fastest."
The Fasig-Tipton auction will begin Tuesday at 11 a.m. (EDT). Two years ago, it became the highest grossing juvenile auction of all time when the 156 horses sold grossed $33,690,000. Last year's gross dropped by 16.3 percent to $28,186,000 when 136 horses were sold. The average of $207,250 and the median of $150,000 fell by 4 percent and 8.3 percent from the previous year.