Sale executives and consignors are feeling optimistic about Fasig-Tipton's July select yearling sale, which kicks off the major yearling auction season in Lexington July 14 starting at 10 a.m. EDT.
The 2014 auction started with a slightly larger catalog of 265 yearlings compared with last year's 258, though by the morning of July 12 pre-sale withdrawals had lowered the 2014 group to 244. After the yearlings go through the ring, Monday also will see a 13-horse dispersal of Eugene Melnyk's weanlings and broodmares and Fasig-Tipton's second annual summer select racing age sale, which had 148 entries as of July 12.
Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning noted that the post-recession Thoroughbred market is still strong for higher-quality yearlings, but also is marked by what he termed "a sense of rationality" that's been keeping a firm cap on multimillion-dollar bidding wars in recent years. Even with that ceiling, bullish prices are still possible at a time when a strong stock market and a burgeoning general economy intersect with a generally smaller yearling crop and healthy purses in key racing jurisdictions such as New York.
Another plus: this year's positive juvenile sale results, which should aid the yearling-to-juvenile pinhookers who are the backbone of July's marketplace.
All of these factors have put many July consignors in an upbeat frame of mind.
"I think it's going to be strong," said consignor Mark Taylor, who noted traffic at the Taylor Made Sales agency's 21-horse yearling consignment was "intense" even during the first few hours of showing at the July sale.
"I think the racing age sale is going to bring in more people who might not ordinarily be here. Last year we got a taste of that, and this being the second year I think you'll see even more trainers and more end-users," Taylor said. "Then with the smaller foal crops, a lot of people I talked to at the end of the September sale were complaining about being shut out on horses. A lot of those people didn't shop July last year. So I think people are going to start shopping every major yearling sale, just to give themselves the best chance to get their orders filled."
Last year's Fasig-Tipton July auction sold 163 yearlings for $14,635,000, a 4.7% decrease from the previous year's total of $15,364,000 for 189 horses; between 2012 and 2013, the catalog had shrunk even more dramatically, falling 23.6% from 338 horses in 2012 to 258. The declines in number cataloged and sold made the dip in gross unsurprising.
Of more interest to Fasig-Tipton executives and the auction's consignors were the rising numbers for average and median prices. The 2013 average gained 10%, climbing from $81,291 the previous year to $89,785. Median did even better, jumping 20% from $60,000 to $72,000 in 2013. Not surprisingly, consignors and buyers were also in better accord about the prices for the yearlings on offer. The 2013 July sale's buyback rate was reduced to 26.5%, down from 33.2% a year earlier.
The 2013 yearling sale-topper was Amaroni, a $460,000 Desert Party filly out of graded producer Lil Cozette (Kris S.). Nat Rea's Regis Farms was the buyer from Allied Bloodstock's agency. The sale's top colt was a $420,000 son of Bellamy Road , currently unnamed, out of the graded-placed stakes winner Affirmed Dancer (Affirmed). He was bought by Whisper Hill Farm from agent Gainesway.
The racing age session grossed $5,819,000 for 55 horses last year and also saw the day's highest price when Castleton Lyons paid $1 million for grade I winner Starship Truffles, by Ghostzapper . Hidden Brook was the consigning agent.
The auction's 2014 edition will take place in three parts, led by the yearlings, which begin selling at 10 a.m. Melnyk's dispersal will follow the yearling session, and the horses of racing age will go to the auction ring last of all.
Such a varied group of horses likely will appeal to a good range of buyers. Shoppers will find some interesting pedigrees and individuals on offer. Some of the notable lots cataloged for Monday are as follows:
Hip 11 - The CandyLand Agency's son of $411,139 earner and multiple stakes winner Run for Joy, from the first crop of Cape Blanco. He's a half brother to winner Joy to Run.
Hip 23 - A Ready's Image half brother to graded winner Regalo Mia, a $359,055 earner. The Taylor Made Sales consignee is out of the Red Bullet mare Shake It Up.
Hip 55 - The Baccari Bloodstock agency's Harlan's Holiday—Time for a Crown colt. The colt's dam already has produced three stakes horses, each with six-figure earnings and recent good updates, including grade I-placed Coronet of a Baron.
Hip 64 - A Candy Ride half brother to grade III winner Verdana Bold. The Warrendale Sales agency consigns the chestnut colt, whose dam, the A. P. Indy mare True Legacy, is a half sister to stakes winner and major earner Holzmeister. The colt's second dam is record-setting grade I-placed Harbour Club.
Hip 91 - The Taylor Made Sales agency's filly is from the first crop of juvenile champion Uncle Mo and out of Alys, a half sister to grade I winner Graydar and a full sister to graded-placed Union Course.
Hip 106 - This Indygo Shiner colt is a half brother to millionaire Ria Antonia, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) last year. The Mill Ridge Sales agency consigns.
Hip 117 - The VanMeter Sales agency's Curlin half brother to stakes winner Tani Maru. The colt's dam, the Holy Bull matron Bullville Belle, is a half sister to three stakes winners and graded performers in Native Regent, Royal Fair, and Morriston Belle; she's also a half sister to stakes winner Mr. Villemore.
Hip 154 - The Hidden Brook agency's Cowboy Cal—Refugee colt, a three-quarter brother to two-time grade I winner Executiveprivilege and a half brother to Rebel Stakes (gr. II) victor and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) runner-up Hoppertunity. The colt's third dam is the champion Davona Dale.
Hip 190 - A Harlan's Holiday colt out of Invitation, consigned by Michael and Julia O'Quinn as agent. His dam is out of the graded winner Statuette and is a three-quarter sister to Irish highweight and group I-placed Tomahawk. This is also the family of Travers (gr. I) winner Golden Ticket .
Hip 227 - A member of Paddy O'Prado 's first crop, this bay filly is a half sister to grade II-placed Crushed Velvet. Her dam, the Meadowlake mare Meadow Soprano, is a half sister to champion sprinter and sire Midnight Lute . Warrendale Sales consigns the filly on behalf of Spendthrift Farm.
Hip 231 - CandyLand Farm, agent’s Scat Daddy filly out of stakes winner Miss Mary Pat, a half sister to stakes-placed Captain Webb. Farther back, the family includes such runners as Warbling and Arianna’s Passion.
Hip 251 - Another Scat Daddy daughter, this one out of the Grindstone mare Our Intention. Consigned by the Gainesway agency, this April 14 filly is a half sister to winner Bold Intention, and her second dam, the Kris S. mare Kris’s Intention, is the dam of graded winners Abraaj and Leelanau, as well as stakes winner All Trumps.
Hip 259 - A Blame half brother to stakes winner Navigator and to stakes-placed Heat Press, offered by Bayne and Christine Welker and Lochlow Farm (James Herbener, agent).The family also features Louisiana standout Coach Mike, an earner of more than $450,000.
The July yearling catalog features the first crops of a number of young stallions including American Lion , Archarcharch , Big Drama, Cape Blanco, Courageous Cat , Court Vision , Custom for Carlos , Drosselmeyer, Field Commission , First Dude , Giant Oak , Gio Ponti , Gone Astray , Haynesfield , Here Comes Ben , Ice Box , Paddy O’ Prado, Sidney's Candy, Tizway, Trappe Shot , Twirling Candy , Uncle Mo, Victor's Cry, and Wilburn .