The Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling auction generated results in the opening session that indicated the market for young Thoroughbreds hadn’t changed much since last year, according to the sale company’s officials.
To commercial breeders, that was a comforting development, giving them some hope for stability after a global financial crisis caused their horses to plunge in value in 2009. To buyers, it meant they still could get yearlings for reasonable prices, but they were selective in their shopping.
With fewer horses offered and sold July 13 in Lexington, the gross revenue dropped 12.6% from 2009. But the average price and median price each rose 11.1% while the buy-back rate of 37.6% remained virtually the same as last year’s figure of 37.3%.
“I think we see a similar marketplace in 2010 that we saw in the yearling sales in 2009, with possibly a little modest improvement that is similar to what we saw in the latter part of the (2010) 2-year-old sales season,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. He added that the opening day’s key business figures were very similar “to our expectations that we discussed on a pre-sale basis.”
The 107 horses that sold out of the 170 offered grossed $8,155,500. The average was $76,220, and the median was $50,000. In 2009, the 136 horses that sold out of the 217 offered grossed $9,328,500. The average was $68,592, and the median was $45,000.
“Generally, you either had zero to one bidder on your horse or three or more bidders on your horse,” Browning said. “Once you meet the criteria that most of the buyers want, there’s very competitive bidding. But on the horses that aren’t deemed as desirable right now in the marketplace, there is very little competition, if any, for those horses.”
A handsome son of Medaglia d'Oro was the highest-priced yearling sold, bringing $450,000. His new owner is Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, who stands the gray/roan yearling’s sire at his Darley operation in Central Kentucky.
Dick O’Gorman signed the sale ticket for Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager, John Ferguson, and Darley director Joe Osborne spoke about the Kentucky-bred colt to the media.
“John had to catch a plane, but he really liked the Medaglia d’Oro colt; he thought he was one of the best-looking yearlings in the sale,” Osborne said. “He (the colt) is correct and has a good attitude, and he showed very well. He (Ferguson) saw him a couple of times (before the yearling arrived on the sale grounds) and just liked him all the way through. He has a good pedigree. He’ll be moved to (Darley's) Raceland Farm (in Kentucky) and Sheikh Mohammed will decide where he’s going to go (to race).”
Produced from the winning Gray Slewpy mare Benight, the strapping yearling is a half brother to 2006 Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) winner Principle Secret (by Sea of Secrets).
Meg Levy’s Bluewater Sales consigned the colt for his breeder, Mike Moreno’s Southern Equine Stables.
“The horse ticked all the boxes,” Levy said. “I know everybody always says that, but he’s by the right sire, he’s a gorgeous mover, he’s a half brother to a graded stakes winner, and he was placed in the right spot. I think the market for quality is as strong as it ever was. It was very similar to what happened here last year with the ‘Medaglias’ as far as the price. Yes, I’m thrilled with the price, but it’s not out of the range for what we were expecting. You just have to have the right horse.”
Asked why Southern Equine decided to sell the colt rather than race him, Levy said: “I think, in this economy, everybody thinks about selling. Everybody has got stud fees to pay, and Southern Equine has a large group of mares. He’s a lovely horse. We were lucky enough to get their yearlings, and they have another yearling that’s outstanding that will be at Saratoga (for Fasig-Tipton’s select sale in New York). I think everybody needs to trade horses once in a while. You set a price and if gets there, then great.”
Jay Em Ess Stable, owned by Mace Siegel and his daughter, Samantha, purchased the session’s second-most expensive yearling, a $300,000 Tiznow colt out of the Housebuster mare Bruanna, who won three stakes at Delaware Park in 2002 and 2003. The dark bay or brown yearling is a half brother to the winners Smoken Dreams (by Smoke Glacken) and Syndicator (by Came Home). Gainesway consigned the colt as agent. Bred by Terry Murphy and Michael Gorham in Kentucky, the yearling was offered as the property of "Graves et al."
The opening session of the July auction showcased the progeny of young sires. This year, the offspring of stallions with their inaugural crops were featured and made up the majority of the 293 first-day yearlings cataloged. That was a change from previous years when the progeny of stallions with both their first and second crops were showcased.
The yearlings by freshman sires didn’t generate as many financial fireworks as the offspring of veteran stallions did.
“I don’t think it’s as easy to sell a new sire’s yearling as it was four or five years ago,” said Fasig-Tipton chariman Walt Robertson. “I don’t know what that’s a product of, but it might be just a risk-aversion thing on behalf of the buyers.”
The highest-priced yearling from a stallion’s first crop was a $250,000 Street Sense colt.
Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm in Florida bought the bay yearling from Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent. Masaichiro Abe bred the colt in Kentucky.
Pope, who was accompanied by advisers Chris Brothers and Kim Heath, said she was starting a yearling-to-juvenile pinhooking venture.
“He has all the good angles and good bone,” said Pope of the colt. “We’re going to aim for a 2-year-old sale and if he can handle it, then we’ll go for that. If not, then we’ll keep him and race him. He looks like he’s got the substance (physically) to handle the pressure of a 2-year-old sale and he also has a good brain, so he can mentally handle the pressure.”
The colt is the third foal out of the Saint Ballado mare Hishikatsu Ballado, who finished third twice in 13 career races in Japan. His second dam is grade I winner Twice the Vice (by Vice Regent).
“I only sold two horses that were by first-year sires today, a Half Ours and a Latent Heat, and I thought their prices were a little low, to be honest,” Bluewater’s Levy said. “We had to be extremely careful with our reserves. We’re very lucky that we have very sharp, intuitive clients who went ahead and were very reasonable on reserves and we got the horses sold. In an uncertain market like this, everybody goes toward a proven commodity just to be safe. Whether that will prove to be the right thing or not, who knows? I remember when Medaglia was a first-year sire (and from that intitial crop he produced 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra).”
According to Browning, “the (offspring of the) new sires with moderate stud fees were very difficult to sell. The Hard Spun s sold well, the one Street Sense today sold well, and so did the one Any Given Saturday that sold. The Discreet Cats also sold well, and the Corinthians sold OK. But it was kind of like there were plateaus where the (progeny of the) new sires with moderate-priced stud fees were more difficult to sell than the (offspring of the) new sires that stood for more money.”