Anticipation is building in New York for the opening of the long-awaited video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct, which is scheduled for later this year. Revenue from the casino’s first year of operation is expected to produce about $32 million prize money for runners at the New York Racing Association’s tracks and to raise the rewards for New York-bred horses.
That’s why Fasig-Tipton officials are optimistic about the prospects for the company’s New York-bred preferred yearling auction, which is scheduled for Aug. 13 and 14 in upstate New York. They believe the excitement about the casino can overcome concerns about the volatile stock market and other economic concerns here and abroad.
“We’re very encouraged and expect a strong sale,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “Obviously the VLT developments in New York are really generating a lot of activity and enthusiasm for this sale. We think it will be a positive influence on the sale results.”
The size of the auction’s catalog is larger. There are 216 yearlings listed in the book compared to 175 in 2010.
“With these purses that are coming and with New York-breds getting a big part of them, I would be very surprised if this sale doesn’t have a real surge and a lot of interest from people,” said consignor Craig Bandoroff of Kentucky-based Denali Stud. “I think we’re definitely going to see some good numbers.”
Last year, the auction’s buy-back rate dropped significantly, falling to 33.8% from 46% in 2009. The gross revenue decreased 15.6% to $3,676,000 while the number of horses sold declined 12.1% to 94. Meanwhile, the average price dipped 3.9% to $39,106, but the median price increased 11.1% to $30,000.
The imminent opening of Aqueduct’s VLT casino “gives owners some confidence that they can pay a little bit more money for these horses and still make some money at the track,” said consignor Dan Barraclough of New York-based Saratoga Glen Farm. “We had a down couple of years like everybody else when they were sorting out this whole VLT situation. Now that it’s sorted out, construction is going on at Aqueduct, and the slots are supposed to be turning by late fall, it’s the time to buy a New York-bred.”
But even though his outlook was bright, Barraclough didn’t expect there to be demand for every yearling in the auction because even the most eager buyers still are picky about conformation and want to see clean veterinary reports.
“It’s a little bigger catalog than I thought it would be, and I think the sale could be a little spotty,” he said. “We’re probably going to have a little bit of trouble in the middle to bottom ranges (of the market). But the good horses are going to sell very, very well. I think the top 50 or 60 horses are going to sell really strong.”
Each session of the auction will start at 7 p.m. (EDT) in the Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion in Saratoga Springs.