F-T Midlantic Sale's Market Could Stabilize

If the auction follows this year's trends, a modest rebound might be possible.

The market for 2-year-olds in training, so far this year, has shown signs of stabilization, and some statistics have experienced modest growth following the sharp downturns of a year ago. Fasig-Tipton officials are hoping the trends continue during the Midlantic auction, which is scheduled for May 17 in Timonium, Md.

There are 405 horses in the catalog, down 19% from a year ago, and the length of the sale has been reduced from two days to one. As of May 15, 81 horses had been scratched auction, which will begin at 10 a.m. EDT.

“We’ve got a lot of people in our region looking for horses who don’t travel to other sales, and we’re counting on them to show up,” said Paget Bennett, Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic sales director. “I’ve been hearing this person is coming and that one is coming. This one is looking to buy three horses, and that one has got a lot of money to spend. It sounds like we’ve got some new people who want to get into the game, and their trainers are bringing them here.”

Also expected is a large contingent of buyers from Korea.

“The better economy is helping a little bit,” Bennett said. “People are getting comfortable with the idea of spending some money again after being a little fearful last year.”

In 2009, the 253 juveniles that sold grossed $10,651,000 and averaged $42,099. The median price was $25,000. Compared to the previous year, the number sold declined 22.6% while the gross dropped 31.6%. The average fell 12.6%, and the median dipped 10.7%.

But not everything was negative. A Tapit –Shopping colt, now named Trappe Shot, brought $850,000, which set a record for a horse sold in Maryland at public auction, and Brother Bird, a Yonaguska half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird, brought $485,000. The buy-back rate was 21.2%, the lowest it had been since 1994.

“We’ve got a lot of strong horses – both physically and pedigree-wise -- this year. There are horses that for whatever reasons didn’t make the earlier sales and needed some extra time,” Bennett said. “The consignors are very excited about what they have.”

Successful stallions with offspring in the catalog include A.P. Indy, Birdstone , Distorted Humor , El Corredor, Giant's Causeway , Medaglia d'Oro , Mr. Greeley, Tapit , Tiznow , Storm Cat, and Unbridled's Song.

A condensed 2010 Monmouth Park meet with rich purses and slots-enhanced purses in nearby states such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware also could provide incentives to purchase horses.

“I think that the market for 2-year-olds is pretty good right now,” said Fasig-Tipton chairman Walt Robertson.  “There is a little bit of a rebound everywhere you look. There was an overreaction (to the economic downturn), and horses were discounted too much. Now, we’re heading back in the right direction. People were holding back, waiting to see what was going to happen. The sky didn’t fall, so now they’re saying, ‘Let’s go to a horse sale.’ ”

Recent graduates of the Midlantic May auction include champion Informed Decision, whose photograph is on the cover of this year’s catalog; and grade I winners Thorn Song and Kip Deville.