Led by the $360,000 paid by Gainesway for the 7-year-old mare Hidden Expression, Fasig-Tipton concluded its winter mixed sale Feb. 10 on a solid note, despite the formidable weather conditions that existed in Lexington during the two-day auction.
Fasig-Tipton reported 406 horses grossed $13,527,500, with an average price of $33,319 and a median of $16,000. The 99 horses that did not sell represented 19.6% of the total through the ring.
The numbers are well below those posted at the 2013 auction that was boosted by a reduction of horses from Eugene Melnyk's Winding Oaks breeding operation. The 2013 sale saw 245 horses bring a total $13,781,700 for an average price of $56,252 and a $15,000 median price.
Comparisons of the 2013 and 2014 sales aren't meaningful considering the strength of the Melnyk consignment in 2013 and increased size of the 2014 catalog.
"I have been a little surprised," said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning of the numbers generated at the auction. "We were a little optimistic going in, but the middle market has been stronger than we imagined. There has been really solid trade in the $20,000-$75,000 range in addition to the over $100,000 market.
"There has been real demand for most horses, but especially for horses with quality pedigrees and quality physicals. There has been a lot of energy here. People are very energetic about the industry again."
While trade was brisk inside the pavilion and back walking ring, outside the weather was brutally cold. The elements didn't slow down many shopping for opportunities in the last public auction prior to the start of breeding season.
The second session saw 284 horses sell for $9,052,400 for an average of $31,875 and a $16,000 median. All the horses in the sale that brought $200,000 or more were sold on the second day.
Sale topper Hidden Expression was consigned by Mr. and Mrs. Rick Abbott's Charlton, as agent for the complete dispersal of the Estate of Anne F. Thorington. The 7-year-old stakes-winning daughter of Yonaguska won the Colleen Stakes and has produced two foals, including promising 2-year-old filly Moonlit Bay.
Neil Howard, Gainesway's general manager, said mating plans for Hidden Expression were unknown but there was a possibility she could be bred to leading Gainesway stallion Tapit this year.
The Feb. 10 second-highest price of $315,000 was paid by Arch Bloodstock for Oleanda Avenue, from the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment. The 4-year-old A.P. Indy filly who is a half sister to grade III winner Stratford Lodge was bought by Arch Bloodstock's Tom Bozarth on behalf of the partnership of Hargus and Sandra Sexton and Steven and Brandi Nicholson.
"We thought she was the prettiest mare in the sale and those are the types you like to have," Bozarth said.
Steven Nicholson said the partners are trying to upgrade their broodmare band and build on the success that the Sextons have achieved over the years. Nicholson said the buyers were "at their limit" with the price paid for Oleanda Avenue, who is from a female family that includes Melynk-raced horses such as grade I winners Graeme Hall and Harmony Lodge.
The second-highest price for the sale overall was paid Feb. 9 when Devious Intent, who defeated multiple champion Groupie Doll last summer, brought a price of $350,000 from Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings. Consigned by James B. Keogh's Grovendale as agent for Kevin Hulse's TK Stables, Devious Intent was sold as a broodmare prospect. Her two stakes triumphs included the 2013 Gardenia Stakes (gr. III) at Ellis Park in which Groupie Doll finished third.
Topping the yearling ranks at the sale was a colt by Arch —Trappings, by Seeking the Gold, purchased by Catherine Parke for $230,000 from the Bluewater Sales consignment. The colt is a half brother to champion She Be Wild.
While the sale showed strength from top to bottom, one horse that some observers thought would bring more was Ullapool, the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint winner purchased by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings for $235,000. The 5-year-old daughter of Langfuhr , who came into the sales ring with three consecutive front-running victories for trainer/co-owner Eddie Kenneally and Marc Detampel, was widely projected to be the sale-topper.
"I thought she was a quality mare and that the buyer made a very good buy," Browning said of Ullapool. "She was extremely impressive in her last start and is the type who could win a graded stakes this year. If she wins a graded stakes between now and then we might see her back here in November, but considering the buyer that is unlikely."