Optimism in the Air for F-T Texas Sale

The auction is scheduled for Aug. 30 at Lone Star Park

By Shelby Downs

On the heels of encouraging results at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s August yearling sale, the Fasig-Tipton Texas summer yearling sale Aug. 30 at Lone Star Park has a bit of optimism in the air despite questions about 2011 racing dates in the Lone Star State. The one-day auction, which is sponsored by the Texas Thoroughbred Association, is set for 10 a.m. (CDT).

This year’s catalog offers 363 head, which is nearly on par with last year’s catalog of 370. The auction grossed $1,889,400 with an average of $10,213 and median of $5,000. A Louisiana-bred son of Purge topped the 2009 sale at $87,000.

“I feel it’s a very strong catalog,” said Tim Boyce, director of sales for Fasig-Tipton Texas. “We have some very hot young sires, like Hard Spun , Mineshaft , and Stevie Wonderboy, plus plenty of proven stallions.”

This sale will be held under the cloud of uncertainty about racing dates in Texas for next year and even later this year. One proposal calls for a consolidation of most Thoroughbred racing next year to a 60-day meet at Lone Star, which would boost daily purses to about $230,000 per day but would also greatly reduce the number of race dates in the state that has struggled to keep up with the slot machine-fueled purses and incentive programs in neighboring New Mexico, Louisiana. and Oklahoma. Sam Houston Race Park also has indicated its intent to seek approval from the Texas Racing Commission to cancel its 2010-11 Thoroughbred meet and transfer purse money to Lone Star.

Race dates in Texas will not be set until September, but the transfer of ownership of Lone Star Park from Magna Entertainment Corp. to the Chickasaw Nation’s Global Gaming LSP LLC has some horsemen hopeful.

“With the new ownership of Lone Star, I think there’s good reason to believe that things are going to change,” Boyce said. “The Monmouth experiment certainly lays a good foundation for the plan that they have.”

As the landscape of racing in the Southwest has changed, so has the makeup of the region’s biggest yearling sale. Just five years ago, Texas-breds accounted for nearly half the catalog, but this year’s group of 101 from that state is about 28% of the total offering.

“We’ve had a hard time selling Texas-breds for three or four years now, so that uncertainty (about Texas race dates) is probably not going to have a huge effect (on the overall sale),” Boyce said.

Louisiana-breds have dominated the sale in recent years, both on the toteboard and in percentage of the catalog. There are 159 Louisiana-breds cataloged this year, or about 44% of the total. The catalog also features 33 Oklahoma-breds, up from 20 last year.

“I think the Southwest market is really doing well,” said Boyce. “Overall, when you look around the country, where else do you want to race? The purses continue to go up in the region, despite what’s happening in Texas.”