Hip 51, by Tapit, was one of three juveniles that brought $1 million or more during the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale.

Hip 51, by Tapit, was one of three juveniles that brought $1 million or more during the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale.

Joe DiOrio

Average, Median Rise at F-T Florida Sale

Three juveniles bring prices of $1 million or more.

The Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training lived up to its high risk/high reward reputation March 26. For the lucky consignors who hit the jackpot, the riches were greater than they had been in 2011, but there also were some big disappointments at Palm Meadows Training Center near Boynton Beach, Fla.

Boosted by three juveniles that brought $1 million or more apiece, the auction posted increases of 34.7% in average price and 13.8% in median price from a year ago. Even though the number of horses that were sold declined 31%, the gross revenue fell only 7.1%.

Last year, only one 2-year-old reached the seven-figure price level.

“Overall I was pleased,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “I think we continue to see there is tremendous demand for what are perceived to be quality horses. There were multiple bidders on every virtually every horse that was sold.”

The final results included a gross of $19,215,000 for the 60 juveniles that were sold. The average was $320,250 and the median was $227,500. The buy-back rate of 28.5% was down from last year’s figure of 39.2%.

However, only 35.9% of the 167 horses cataloged in 2012 found new homes. Eighty-three (49.7%) were scratched.

“Obviously there were some great prices, but it was still chicken or feathers,” said consignor Niall Brennan. “We had some horses that were very popular, but we had a couple that boggled my mind when they didn’t sell because they were very good horses. The buyers were either really on them or not on them at all. There were definitely some very soft spots here.”

A robust son of Big Brown  topped the auction, commanding $1.3 million. Demi O’Byrne of Coolmore Stud’s buying team signed the sale ticket. He outlasted Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan, who attended the auction with Stonestreet Stables’ Barbara Banke, in the battle for the bay juvenile.

“This is a very good-looking horse and he breezed very well; he had lovely action,” O’Byrne said. “I expected he would probably make that (price) in view of what I saw here. We’ll take him to Kentucky for a few weeks and make a decision (about who will train him).”

O'Byrne also reported that the colt would be owned by Coolmore managing partner John Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Michael Tabor.

A member of his sire's first crop, the expensive 2-year-old is a half brother to Dagnabit (by Freud ), who captured the Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park and the Aspirant Stakes at Finger Lakes in 2008. Their winning dam, Cool Ghoul (by Silver Ghost), is a half sister to grade II winner Comeonmom (by Jolie's Halo). Cool Ghoul and Comeonmom are out of grade I winner Single Blade (by Hatchet Man).

Lansdon Robbins and Tom Hansen bred the colt in Pennsylvania. In 2011, IEAH Stables bought him for $220,000 from Hidden Brook, agent, at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale. Ciaran and Amy Dunne’s Wavertree Stables consigned him to the Fasig-Tipton Florida auction, and he worked an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5 during the sale’s under tack show.

“It’s obviously a wonderful feeling,” said Ciaran Dunne of the colt’s success in the auction ring. “We’re very proud of the horse. As silly as it may seem, when you get one like that, you probably feel that if you don’t come down here and do that sort of thing with him, you let him down. If he had shown up here and that hadn’t been the result, it could have only been our fault. We did nothing to make him any better than he was; the only thing we managed to do real well was stay out of his way. We thought he was the best horse here and, thankfully, someone with the money to pay for him did, too.”

IEAH was a member of the partnership that raced Big Brown, who was the champion 3-year-old male in 2008, when he won the Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

The Fasig-Tipton Florida sale's other seven-figure juveniles were a $1.2-million Distorted Humor —Secret Thyme colt and a $1-million Tapit —Liberty Flag colt.

David Loder, a member of Sheikh Mohammed’s buying team, signed the sale ticket for the Distorted Humor colt in the name of the Dubai ruler’s bloodstock manager, John Ferguson. Consigned by Lynne Boutte, agent, the chestnut 2-year-old breezed an eighth in :10 1/5.

Nick Sallusto and Hanzly Albina, acting on behalf of Steven Marshall’s Black Rock Thoroughbreds, acquired the Tapit colt from Stephens Thoroughbreds, agent. The bay juvenile worked an eighth in :10 3/5.

“Traditionally, it has been thin at the top,” Albina said. “But I think now, unlike any other time in history, it’s very strong and deep (in buyers) at the top. There are discerning buyers with a lot of money who only want the best. They aren’t interested in horses that are missing one of the elements in the package. They want it all and they’re willing to pay for it.”

The sale’s biggest spender was Ferguson, who was on the sale grounds prior to the auction, but wasn’t in Florida on sale day. Four horses were purchased for $3.67 million in his name by Loder, a former trainer who works for Sheikh Mohammed.