The Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale kept the momentum going on its second day after getting off to a quick start in its opening session. The results Oct. 23 in Lexington included a gross that increased 25.3% from a year ago and an average price that rose 7.2% The median price advanced 16.7% while the number of horses that were sold grew 16.9%.
“It was another solid session, very strong with very good trade at virtually all levels,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “Obviously, there is strength at the top of the market, but the middle market is very active. It has just been a really good horse sale.”
Fasig-Tipton reported 297 horses were sold during the second session for a gross of $7,968,900. The average was $26,831 and the median was $14,000. The buy-back rate was 18.6%, up from 17% in 2011.
A striking roan son of Speightstown topped the second session and became the most expensive horse sold so far in the auction when he commanded $440,000. Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm in Florida purchased the colt while sitting in the sale pavilion with veterinarian Michael Chovanes. Their competition in the furious bidding battle included trainer Kenny McPeek and Patrice Miller of EQB.
“We thought this was the nicest horse in the sale,” said Chovanes, who is Pope’s fiance. “As a veterinarian, I had several clients who were interested in him and we just had to let the auction process take its course. It’s an unusual situation, but they all were very understanding.”
The colt is a half brother to Vaulcluse (by A.P. Indy), who captured the 2008 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Their dam, the winning Dehere mare Betty's Pet, is a full sister to grade III winner Millions and a half sister to unraced Star of Paris (by Dayjur), who produced French champion and group I winner Elusive City (by Elusive Quality ).
“He’s intelligent,” said Chovanes of the $440,000 colt. “I was with him until the minute he left the barn (for the sale ring) and he handled everything real well. The price was strong, but he was just that much better than the other $200,000 and up horses in this sale, in our opinion. This horse was a little more naturally athletic and you didn’t have to hope that he went in the right direction, although he wasn’t overdone and he wasn’t what I call a 'sucker horse.' When he handled everything with such brain power, that cinched it for me.”
Added Pope: “Attitude is extremely important to us, and he had a great attitude. He was very level-headed. I could walk right up and pat him on his face and he wouldn’t try to bite me. Attitude means a lot.”
Eugene Melnyk bred the colt in Kentucky and Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, consigned the yearling to the Fasig-Tipton October auction. Melnyk bought the colt’s sire for $2 million from Taylor Made at the 1999 Keeneland July select yearling sale. Racing for Melnyk and his wife, Laura, Speightstown won an Eclipse Award as 2004’s champion sprinter. He stands at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., as a Taylor Made/WinStar venture.
“He (the $440,000 colt) looks exactly like Speightstown except that he is a roan and Speightstown is a chestnut,” said Taylor Made’s Mark Taylor. “He has a great eye, a beautiful head, and he’s very correct. The first day he was here (on the Fasig-Tipton sale grounds), I thought he could top the sale. But I didn’t know what the top of the market would be. I felt he would bring north of $200,000, but I didn’t know how far north of $200,000. This is great.”
A robust daughter of Malibu Moon was the second session’s second-most expensive horse at $265,000. Canadian bloodstock agent Richard Hogan bought the bay filly for Nat Rea’s Regis Farms. The immediate underbidders on the yearling were Florida-based pinhookers Becky Thomas and Al Pike.
“We teamed up so we could be more aggressive, but we still got bombed,” Thomas said. “She had a real fluid walk, and she had a very clean vet report. I thought she was the best horse in the sale.”
The Kentucky-bred yearling is a half sister to the winner La Billos (by Harlan’s Holiday). They are out of Velvet Snow (by Subordination), who captured the Ontario Damsel Stakes in 2004 and the Belle Geste Stakes in 2006 at Woodbine in Canada.
“She’s just a smashing filly,” Hogan said. “She has lots of upside and a great walk. The price was a little more than we wanted to pay, but you’ve got to reach for the nice ones.”
Plans called for the filly to be sent to Classic Mile in Florida to be prepared for competition. A decision about who will train her at the racetrack will be made “over the winter,” according to Hogan.
The bloodstock agent said Rea got involved in the Thoroughbred business several months ago. He bought a $130,000 Curlin —Lady Cerise filly through Hogan at this year’s Keeneland September yearling auction.
Rea formerly was the vice chairman and director of Martinrea International, a Canadian auto parts manufacturer. He resigned from those positions in late June “to pursue other interests,” according to a press release from the company.
Kitty Taylor’s Warrendale Sales consigned the $265,000 filly for her breeder, B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm near Lexington.
“That was awesome,” Taylor said. “She had a lot of vetting; everybody wanted to look at her from stem to stern. She’s a nice filly and she carried herself well. I don’t know if you saw her in the back (right before she went into the sale ring), but she was dead quiet. I had somebody say to me, ‘She’s the kind you want for a Saturday afternoon horse.’ I have to attribute that quote to Kim Lloyd of Barretts. ”
The filly hadn’t been offered at an earlier yearling sale because of an injury she suffered in the spring.
“It was a large wound on the front of her cannon bone that we felt would not be an issue for her to race,” said Spendthrift general manager Ned Toffey. “It obviously was an unattractive blemish, but it actually healed up better than we thought it would. Our original intention was to take her to a sale of 2-year-olds in training. But Kitty came out to the farm and looked at her with us and said: ‘That filly will top the October sale. We ought to take her out there.’ We felt like if we could get the money now then that was a better risk than going on to a 2-year-old sale.”
Spendthrift offers most of the horses it breeds at public auction, but the farm wasn’t willing to let the filly go at just any price.
“We were pretty confident she could bring $150,000 to $200,000, and we were prepared to take her home if she didn’t bring that kind of money; we protected her,” Toffey said. “The $265,000 was a little bit of a surprise. That was the high end of what we were thinking. We were very happy with the price. I think she may have done better here than she might have done in another sale.
“This is an interesting sale because there is such a broad range of horses,” he continued. “But she was sort of the perfect kind to bring here. When you look at her, you see that the (scar from the) old injury is there and that sort of explained to people right away why we didn’t sell her earlier.”
Regis Farms also acquired a $250,000 daughter of Bandini—Bella Dorato that was the third-highest-priced horse of the second session. The bay filly is a half sister to grade II winner Trinniberg (by Teuflesberg ). Romans Racing & Sales, agent, consigned the yearling.
The combined results for the Fasig-Tipton October sale's first two sessions included a gross of $15,199,100 for the 590 yearlings that were sold. The average price was $25,761. Compared to last year, the number sold and gross were up 24.2% and 36.1%, respectively. The average was up 9.5%.
The buy-back rate was 19.6% compared to 21% in 2011.
The auction’s third and final session is scheduled for Oct. 24 and will begin at 10 a.m. (EDT).