Fasig-Tipton's July yearling sale kicked off the major yearling auction season Monday, July 14 in Lexington with mixed results that were close to last year's figures, but with increases in buybacks.
Hoppertunity's half brother by Cowboy Cal brought the yearling session's highest price when Alfredo Lichoa of Northwest Stud in Ocala, Fla., went to $550,000 for him.
The one-day yearling auction--which was followed by a dispersal of Eugene Melnyk's broodmares and weanlings and separate racing-age auction--outperformed last year's numbers for gross and average, but median slipped slightly, falling 2.8% from $72,000 to $70,000. The yearling session sold 162 horses for $15,253,000, up 4.2% from last year's $14,635,000 total for 163. Average gained 4.9%, rising from last year's $89,785 to $94,154.
But at the auction's conclusion Monday evening, the buyback rate had increased, climbing to 30.8% from last season's 26.6%.
Brought to auction by the Hidden Brook agency, the sale-topping Cowboy Cal yearling was a pinhooking success for his sellers, a syndicate put together by McMahon & Hill Bloodstock. They paid $145,000 for the Feb. 20 foal, then a weanling, at Keeneland's November breeding stock last year. The colt is out of Refugee, a grade II-placed Unaccounted For mare, and also is a three-quarters brother to two-time grade I winner Executiveprivilege. Sire Cowboy Cal stood this year for $5,000 at Pin Oak Stud in Versailles, Ky., and his highest yearling price last year was $45,000.
"We went to more than we thought," said buyer Lichoa, Northwest's general manager. "He has a very, very good pedigree. I think he is the best colt in the sale. There were four on our list, and after the vet work only two passed, this one and one other. Our program is to buy horses for the selected 2-year-old sale. There are few horses that meet our criteria, and everyone wants them."
Lichoa came back to buy the other colt that passed the vet for him: a $400,000 Harlan's Holiday colt out of Invitation, from the family of Golden Ticket and of group I-placed Tomahawk. The April 15 foal was half of Michael and Julia O'Quinn's two-horse consignment for the year. The O'Quinns, who have a 20-acre farm in Citra, Fla., also sold a $105,000 Bellamy Road filly out of Epithet. That April 1 foal, a half sister to grade III-placed Acceleration and stakes-placed Quiet Emarati, went to trainer Ken McPeek.
Both of the O'Quinns' horses were pinhooks. They spent $140,000--a personal high--for the Harlan's Holiday colt and $35,000 for the Bellamy Road filly at Fasig-Tipton's November mixed sale last year.
"They did what we needed them to do," Michael O'Quinn said. "We bought a couple of real nice horses, and we just hoped they kept doing the way that they were. The main thing, we just kind of stayed out of their way!"
Chuck Sandford, immediate underbidder for the Cowboy Cal colt, earlier bought a $400,000 colt from sire Unbridled's Song's penultimate foal crop. The March 27 colt, a gray or roan like the late stallion, hailed from the Taylor Made Sales consignment and is out of the graded stakes-placed E Dubai mare Bet On the Blue. Taylor Made also stood Unbridled's Song until his death last July.
Sandford, who campaigned Take Charge Indy with his wife Maribeth, pointed to another horse in his stable when asked what made him go to $400,000 for his new Unbridled's Song colt.
"I have another Unbridled's Song called Almost Famous, and he will run in the Ohio Derby this coming weekend," Sandford said. "I went to $500,000 to get him at the Fasig-Tipton sale in Florida over a year ago. There's just not many left.
"We liked him, my trainer loved him, so we went all in. He went for more than I wanted to spend. Obviously, someone else liked him too. We're here to play. We'll be in on a few more before the day's over, but he was a nice start to the day."
Sandford also paid $410,000 for a Blame colt out of Princess Birdeye, a half brother to stakes winner Navigator, that Bayne and Christina Welker and Lochlow Farm sold through James Herbener, agent; $250,000 for a Lookin At Lucky —Her She Kisses colt that the Eaton Sales agency consigned; and $135,000 for a Majesticperfection —Chance Romance colt that Airdrie Stud, agent, sold.
Other high-priced yearlings Monday included a $375,000 Congrats colt out of stakes winner Northern Station that Maverick Racing (Elliott Walden, agent) purchased from Alfred Nuckols's Hurstland Farm agency; a $250,000 Candy Ride —True Legacy colt, a half brother to Verdana Bold, that Jay Em Ess Stable's Samantha Siegel bought from Warrendale Sales, agent; a $235,000 Harlan's Holiday—Time for a Crown colt, a half brother to grade I-placed Coronet of a Baron and stakes winners Sayaad and Banga Ridge, that Mark Casse bought for Conquest Stables from the Baccari Bloodstock agency; a $210,000 Into Mischief —Keen Victory colt that Full House Stables bought from Tall Oaks Farm (Warrendale, agent); and a $210,000 Malibu Moon —Holy Princess filly, the only Malibu Moon yearling on offer, that Santee Stables purchased from CandyLand Farm (agent).