The market was livelier during the second and final session of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale Oct. 6 in Maryland. Six horses sold for six-figure prices compared to one on the opening day. But the increase in the number of expensive yearlings didn’t keep the auction’s key business figures from falling far short of 2008’s numbers.
The gross revenue plunged 31.6% while the average price dropped 14.6%. The median plummeted 38.9%
“There is not a great deal of strength in any sector of our marketplace right now,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “We are seeing an adjustment that’s taking place through all levels of the Thoroughbred industry in the sales world. The results of this sale reflect the economic reality of the Thoroughbred business on a regional basis right now, and it’s very difficult.”
The 387 yearlings that sold grossed $5,616,450 and averaged $14,513. The median price was $5,500. Last year, 483 horses were sold for a gross of $8,211,600. The average was $17,001, and the median was $9,000.
The buy-back/no bid rate fell from 35.9% in 2008 to 27.1% this year.
“There is generally a relationship at a regional-type sale that when the median goes down and the buy-back rate also goes down, people are more willing than they were a year ago to take less for their horses to get them sold,” Browning said.
According to Charles McGinnes, whose Thornmar operation is located near Chestertown, Md., the situation has reached a crisis point financially for many of the Midlantic region’s breeders.
“Basically, what the problem boils down to is you can’t sell horses for more than it costs to raise them,” he said. “I'm comparing the situation to the war in Afghanistan; there is no solution to it. You’re stuck and mired in it, and you can’t get out if it. We’re going to sell some mares in the sale here in December and hope somebody will pay $1,000 (apiece) for them, and some of them we’re going to put down. What else are you going to do with them? It’s the kindest thing to do.”
A Harlan's Holiday colt was the auction’s top-priced yearling, bringing $300,000 early in the afternoon of the second session. Francis Vanlangendonck of the Summerfield sales agency signed the sale ticket on behalf of Florida pinhooker Nick de Meric. Samantha Siegel of Jay Em Ess Stable and Alan Quartucci of North Shore Bloodstock also were in the hunt for the striking bay yearling, which went through the sale ring early in the afternoon.
Vanlangendonck had a consignment at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic auction, and the Kentucky-bred Harlan’s Holiday colt was stabled nearby in the temporary tent complex that houses some of the sale yearlings.
“He just told me to bid on him,” said Vanlangendonck, who communicated with de Meric via cell phone during the bidding. “He’s a lovely colt. He was over next to me out there, and he obviously was a class act. I watched him for three days, and he really showed well. He looked like an athlete and handled everything mentally.”
De Meric had been on the sale grounds earlier in the day, but left before the colt went through the sale ring to return to his home in the Sunshine State. He was on a Delta jet waiting to take off when Vanlangendonck was bidding and managed to stay on his cell phone long enough to hear the result even though a stewardess wanted the pinhooker to stop his conversation so the plane could leave Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
“We felt the colt had exceptional poise and balance,” de Meric said. “He had a beautiful, fluid way of moving, and he looked like he just owned his surroundings. We had hoped to get him for a little bit less (than the final price).”
De Meric purchased the yearling for Seth Klarman’s LRK Stables and the plan now is to prepare the colt for racing instead of selling him at a sale of 2-year-olds in training, “but we like to keep all our options open,” the pinhooker said.
Paramount Sales consigned the six-figure yearling for Gerry Dilger’s Dromoland Farm near Lexington. Dilger purchased the colt in the name of Filbert Farm for $150,000 at the 2008 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Then a weanling, the colt was consigned to the mixed auction by his breeder, Brereton Jones of Airdrie Stud.
“He had been awfully popular, and Nick loved him; pretty much everybody was on him,” said Paramount’s Gabriel Duignan. “You just could not pick the horse apart. He’s so balanced, and he showed himself like a professional. There was nothing to fault the horse on his physical. He had perfect X-rays. He’s just a very special horse. It was a very fair price for him.”
Dromoland originally had consigned the colt to the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling auction in August, but he suffered a stone bruise in a front foot while in New York and was scratched from the sale.
“In a market like this, I’m delighted with the price,” Dilger said. “He showed well at first at Saratoga and then he started to get ‘ouchy.’ We tried to work him through it and couldn’t. When he got home, he popped a gravel and after that he was fine, so we went on from there. Things like that happen to horses. He was already prepped for a sale, so we didn’t have to do much with him this time around at all. I just let the market take the horse to where he dropped. There was a reserve, but there was a lot of room between it and the final price.”
The colt is the first foal out of the 5-year-old unraced Yankee Victor mare Keep It Going, who is a half-sister to Impending Bear (by Farma Way), who scored in the 2000 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland. Keep It Going and Impending Bear's dam, Harlan Honey (by Silver Hawk), captured the Appalachian and Palisades Stakes in 1993 at Keeneland.
The auction’s highest-priced filly and second-highest-priced yearling overall was a daughter of Tapit , Steal the Dance, who sold for $182,000 to Aiken, S.C.-based pinhooker Cary Frommer, agent, late during the second session. Produced from the 10-year-old winning Forest Wildcat mare Purloin, who is a half-sister to added-money winner Pirate of Penzance (by Southern Halo), the gray or roan yearling is a full sister to the winner Carolina Tapper and a half-sister to another winner, Ataseastorm (by Chief Seattle). Other members of her family include grade II winner Caller I. D.
“I was just helping Cary out picking out some babies, and we found her a couple days ago; of course, we thought she was the best horse in the sale as everybody does who gets their horse bought,” said Florida horseman Barry Berkelhammer. “She was a lovely filly, but we didn’t think we would have to pay that much. She just had a beautiful walk on her, and she has a lot of hip to her for a Tapit; usually they tend to be a little light in the hip. She had a good neck, and she just looks like she’ll grow into a beautiful filly.”
Sally Thomas, agent, consigned Steal the Dance, who was bred in Kentucky by Carol Ann Kaye-Garcia, the wife of Maryland trainer Carlos Garcia. Berkelhammer said the filly would be pointed for the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training.
During the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic auction's second session, the 190 yearlings that sold grossed $3,071,850 and averaged $16,168. The median was $5,000. The buy-back/no bid rate was 28%.