The Fasig-Tipton July select yearling sale, held July 20 and 21 in Lexington, ended with significant setbacks in gross revenue, average price, and median price, but managed to lower its buy-back rate from a year ago slighty. Here’s what sale company officials and sale participants had to say about the market:
Ciaran Dunne, Wavertree Stables, pinhooker: “We can all say we’re going to be more conservative, but we’re a very realistic bunch and we live and die on the edge of the sword. The 2-year-olds in training that we can sell have to be the whole package, which is fast, big, good moving, and a good pedigree, and they have to vet good. If they’re small, crooked things, even if they’re fast, we can’t sell them. We had a great year (at the juvenile auctions), and we’ve got a lot of people who see this (downturn in the market) as an opportunity to buy. There are still nice horses. But we have to be very careful about what we do. We’ve never been able to blow a bunch of money.”
Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton president: "You can almost hit the rewind button for last year and the year before last and the year before that; buyers are very selective. We need to find ways to attract new owners into the business. The one area that we just don’t see enough activity in to really help the market is the addition or the strength of new faces that are willing to be significant participants in the industry. There is the possibility of some new faces at Saratoga, but there were no dramatic new faces here today or yesterday.
“There was a great deal of comfort knowing that when you led a quality horse through the sale ring the last two days, there were going to be multiple bidders. That is the relief that our consignors expressed. They said, ‘We’re thankful and we feel comfortable now knowing that there is a marketplace for our quality horses.’ You’ve still got to be scratching your head a little bit about the part of the market that is not terribly commercial. But for the horses consignors thought would sell well, the vast majority of them were well-received and there were multiple bidders on them.”
Brian Graves, Gainesway: “It seems to me like the market for the average horse is pretty thin; it’s really tough. But if you’ve got a good one, they (the buyers) still want them, and the market is fair. And sometimes it can be really good. The middle market is really off. It’s off by 40% or something, and there’s not much of a safety net there. But the good news is that these middle market horses are changing hands; they’re still selling. They’re not hugely profitable or profitable at all, but they’re moving.
“We’ve seen high traffic (in the sale barns); people are looking. I’ve see a high volume of looks and shows, but there’s not a huge volume of vetting on every horse that was looked at. The good horses were getting vetted eight to 10 times, but the average ones just maybe once or twice and they were just changing hands.
“Pinhookers are buying and I think they’re strong, I just think they’re focussing on quality. They’re not buying as many horses, and they’re sticking to the real goods. The only ones they are vetting in my barn are the top two or three horses.
“When the market is raging hot, people are all over that new sire stuff. But I think the tide is turning and they’re focusing more on the proven horses; it’s safer. There are certain new stallions like Henny Hughes they want to play with, but I just think they’re willing to pay a lot more for something that’s proven and that’s gotten graded stakes winners already.
“Last year, Birdstone had been productive. He had some nice stakes horses coming, and people thought he was overachieving, but not at the level where he ended up at. I think he pretty much exceeded everybody’s hopes and dreams when he had two classic winners. With what he’s done now, if you lead a good one (Birdstone offspring) up there, they’ll go crazy for it.”
Walt Robertson, Fasig-Tipton chairman: “My concern about the future is that when buyers compete, I think we’re going to be just fine on a particular horse. But I think they’ll leave several horses alone that maybe in the past few years, they might have picked up.”