Hip 182; filly, Empire Maker - Half A. P. by Pulpit, brought $1.35 million to lead the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Hip 182; filly, Empire Maker - Half A. P. by Pulpit, brought $1.35 million to lead the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Joe DiOrio

F-T Florida 2YO Sale: More Feast or Famine

Median price stabilizes, but the buy-back rate rises from last year.

The Fasig-Tipton select sale of 2-year-olds in training had a new home that received rave reviews from its buyers and consignors. But the move to Palm Meadows Training Center near Boynton Beach didn’t change the feast-or-famine trend that has plagued the elite juvenile marketplace for years.

The buy-back rate at the auction March 3, which formerly was held at Calder Casino & Race Course, rose to 43.4% from 37.2% a year ago. The number of horses sold declined 11% to 81. The gross revenue dropped 15.4% to $19,832,000. And the average price dipped 4.9% to $244,840.

The median price turned in the strongest performance, remaining stable at $200,000.

“It was (a) typical select 2-year-old sale,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “I don’t think anybody should be saying ‘hip hip hooray’ or ‘oh no.’ It’s a fairly similar marketplace to last year’s. You continue to see bidders who are interested, but they continue to bid cautiously, and you continue see individuals who were major buyers 10 years ago at high levels bidding more conservatively than sellers would like. When they have a number in mind, they quit at that number or real close to that number rather than stretching.”

A sleek Empire Maker  filly who had generated a lot of buzz in the days leading up to the sale commanded the highest price of $1.35 million. Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager, John Ferguson, outlasted Spendthrift Farm owner B. Wayne Hughes to get the bay juvenile. She is the first foal out of the Pulpit mare Half A. P., who finished third in her one career race and is a half sister to champion Halfbridled (by Unbridled).

“She’s an outstanding individual and she has a lovely pedigree,” Ferguson said. “She has done everything right and she comes from a consignor who has produced many top horses in the past. You know that she’s been prepared in the right way. I would think she would stay in the United States.”

Murray Smith, agent, consigned the filly. A Florida pinhooker, Smith purchased her for $435,000 from Lane’s End, agent, at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling auction. The filly worked an eighth of a mile in :10 during the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale’s under tack show Feb. 28.

“I knew that she was a very, very special filly and I’m delighted; I’m absolutely delighted,” Smith said. “I had some partners (in the filly’s ownership) and they’re happy too.

“The right guys were all on her; the smart horsemen, they didn’t miss her,” Smith added. “She was obvious. She’s a trainer’s dream. Anybody’s life she touches is going to be better for it.”

A Tapit  filly and an Empire Maker colt shared the runner-up position on the Fasig-Tipton Florida auction’s price list, each bringing $750,000.

Ferguson bought the Tapit filly, holding off Antony Beck of Gainesway Farm. Gainesway is the Central Kentucky nursery where Tapit stands.

Consigned by Florida-based Stephens Thoroughbreds, agent for Vision Racing & Sales, the filly is a full sister to the winner Tempted to Tapit, who finished second in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) and third in the Sunland Derby (gr. III) in 2010. Their dam, the winning Editor's Note mare Tempting Note, was second in the 2004 editions of the Busanda and Nijana Stakes at Aqueduct.

The filly worked an eighth of a mile in :9 4/5. Vision Sales 2010 purchased her for $67,000 from McMillin Sales during the 2010 Keeneland September yearling auction.

Robert and Lawana Low bought the Empire Maker colt, which is a half brother to 2006 Oak Leaf Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. I) winner Cash Included (by Include ). They are out of the unraced Chimes Band mare, Henderson Band, who is a half sister to French group II winner Lord Flasheart (by Blush Rambler).

Scanlon Training Center of Central Florida consigned the dark bay or brown juvenile who breezed an eighth of a mile in :10 2/5. Paul Pompa Jr. bought him for $575,000 from Airdrie Stud, agent for Brereton Jones, at last year’s Keeneland September auction.

The Fasig-Tipton Florida sale is the first auction of the 2011 select 2-year-old selling season. It moved into the lead-off position after the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. decided not to hold its February select sale this year.

Kentucky bloodstock agent Mike Ryan, who is a close associate of Florida pinhooker Niall Brennan, called the Fasig-Tipton auction a “decent start,” but like Browning, he didn’t see much difference in the market from 2010.

“The sale did pick up momentum about midway through, but it was a bit of a struggle and it was very selective,” Ryan said. “I thought there were some good horses that sold really well and I thought there were some good horses that didn’t do as well as I thought they would, but that’s the market. It’s very polarized.”