Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga select yearling sale, which takes place Aug. 4-5 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., could capitalize on two recent trends in the yearling market: smaller overall foal crops and the willingness of upper-level buyers to spend for choice horses.
And it will provide some insight into long-term confidence in the market, thanks to a particularly hefty supply of well-bred fillies that should tempt buyers with breeding programs to take the plunge. Buyers of that kind appeared plentiful on the grounds Sunday morning prior to the sale, where traffic was steady.
This year's catalog initially featured slightly more horses than did last year's, with 165 yearlings as compared with 152 in 2014. But 14 scratches as of Sunday afternoon had lowered the number that will go through the ring to 151. With small supply again prodding buyers to purchase, the market appears likely to remain at least steady and possibly improve off of last season's financial returns.
A year ago, this auction sold 108 yearlings for $31,870,000, down less than 1% from the gross for 109 the year before, and its $295,093 average also was nearly level, slumping by a single percentage point from 2012's figure of $299,065. But the median price—a key figure for market-watchers because it isn't liable to the swings a single high price can cause for average price—jumped up by 11%, from $225,000 to $250,000.
The bellwether Fasig-Tipton July select yearling sale in Kentucky also provides some indication that the yearling market is fairly lively these days. Although it produced mixed results for a catalog that traditionally offers fewer gold-star pedigrees, consignors' pre-sale optimism seemed justified by a market that was generally stable, though choosy.
Fasig-Tipton's July yearlings, offered on a day that also saw a major dispersal by Eugene Melnyk and the second edition of a popular racing-age sale, grossed 4.2% more this year for essentially the same number of yearlings: $15,253,000 for 162 horses as compared to 2013's total of $14,635,000 for 163 head. The July sale's average price of $94,154 gained 4.9% over last year. The median slipped, but not badly, by 2.8%, to $70,000.
But buybacks increased from 26.6% last year to 30.8%, a sign that some sellers might have been too optimistic in the face of buyers' steely resolve not to get too carried away. That selectivity has always been even more of a feature of the Saratoga yearling sale, so a key to stifling the buyback rate will be sellers' willingness to put modest reserves on their stock.
The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select auction will take place in Fasig-Tipton's Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion. Sessions start Monday, Aug. 4, and Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 7 p.m.