Hip 228, a Birdstone colt that sold for $400,000, was today's sale topper.

Hip 228, a Birdstone colt that sold for $400,000, was today's sale topper.

Anne M. Eberhardt

No Surprises: F-T July Sale Opens With Losses

Gross falls 32.9%; average price down 23.8%.

The declines were in line with expectations during the opening session of the Fasig-Tipton July select yearling sale. Buyers and consignors had predicted  the market would be down significantly, and there were no surprises July 20 in Lexington.

The gross revenue dropped 32.9% from a year ago while the average price fell 23.8%. The median declined 33.3%. During the session, 125 yearlings were sold for $8,933,500, producing an average of $71,468 and a median of $50,000.

“We were down 20 some percent (in average), and the world is down 35%; I’m not too unhappy about what happened today,” said Fasig-Tipton chairman Walt Robertson. “You’re always unhappy to be down, but man, we had to expect some of it. I don’t know of a game that is as good as it was last year.”

The buy-back rate fell from 44.1% in 2008 to 42.4% this year.

“We have to be realistic,” said Bill Farish of Lane’s End Farm. “The market isn’t what it was, and you have to readjust your sights. I think we are going to continue to see the market shrink, and that’s a natural, given the economy that’s out there.”

A handsome Birdstone  colt was the most expensive horse sold during the opening session of the two-day sale, bringing $400,000 from Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager, John Ferguson. Also in the hunt for the dark bay or brown yearling was California-based buyer Samantha Siegel. The price exceeded the $375,000 peak for the July auction in 2008.

According to Ferguson, it was the first time “to my knowledge” that Sheikh Mohammed had purchased a Birdstone offspring. Winner of the 2004 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Birdstone is the sire of 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird and Belmont winner Summer Bird, both from his first crop of foals.

“This is a very nice colt,” Ferguson said. “Birdstone has blasted onto the sire scene with two classic winners, and he’s obviously a sire that can do it. When he sired those two horses, you had to take him seriously. This was a very athletic colt, so it made sense to follow him through. He’s a very balanced, correct horse with a good look about him, so he was a nice horse to have. Inevitably, there is always a correction in the market, but obviously, good horses are still making a good price. That (price) was about right.”

Dapple Stud, agent, consigned the colt. Dapple Bloodstock had acquired him for $37,000 earlier this year at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale from Eaton Sales, agent. Bob Sliger bred the yearling in Kentucky.

Mike Akers of Dapple Stud and Dapple Bloodstock said the colt was owned by a weanling-to-yearling pinhooking partnership that has approximately five members.

“He had nine scopes (endoscopic throat exams); he was X-rayed and ultrasounded and every possible thing; and he jumped through all the hoops,” Akers said. “When we bought him, he was a mature colt. You could see that he had a good frame, and he was going to stand over a bit of ground. He looks the part now, but Birdstone certainly did his part to help. This morning, I thought the colt could bring $200,000; $400,000 was a pleasant surprise. We had all the right people on him, but didn’t know Mr. Ferguson was as interested as he was until later today. The cards fell our way.”

Produced from the 9-year-old unraced Seattle Slew mare Slew Smarts, the colt is a half-brother to the winner Por Que (by Whywhywhy), who finished second in the Zia Park Derby and Remington Park Sprint Championship Stakes in 2008 and ran third in the 2009 Express Stakes at Lone Star Park.

A Bernardini  colt and a Rock Hard Ten filly were the second-most-expensive yearlings sold during the opening session, each bringing $350,000.

Dick O’Gorman, representing Ferguson on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation, purchased the Bernardini colt, which is a member of his sire's first crop. The ruler of Dubai bred and raced Bernardini in the Darley name, and stands the stallion at his Darley farm near Lexington. Bernardini was the champion 3-year-male of 2006, when his efforts included victories the Preakness (gr. I) and Travers (gr. I) Stakes and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I).

“We like the colt, and we like his sire, so it was a great combination,” O’Gorman said. “I think he would have made more (money) in earlier years, but that’s the times we are living in. He’s a very nice horse, but there are a lot of nice horses by Bernardini around. He (Bernardini) is getting really nice horses, which he’s entitled to because he was a very nice horse himself.”

Lane’s End, agent, was the consignor of the bay colt, which was bred in Kentucky by Palides Investments. The yearling is out of the 19-year-old Lyphard mare Lyphard’s Delta, who scored in the 1993 Vodafone Nassau Stakes (Eng-II).

Lyphard’s Delta’s other offspring include 2003 Garden City Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. IT) winner Indy Five Hundred and Delta Princess, who captured six added-money events, including the 2005 editions of the Locust Grove (gr. IIIT) and Early Times Mint Julep (gr. IIIT) Handicaps and the 2003 Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIIT). Both Indy Five Hundred and Delta Princess are by A.P. Indy, the sire of Bernardini.

“Ever since he’s gotten here, he’s handled the whole process so well,” said Farish of the Bernardini colt. “He’s still walking like the day he got here. He’s been out 180 times, and he’s still handling everything so well. I think he does look a little bit like Bernardi, but he’s a little small. Being a May foal, I think there’s still a lot of that (size) to come, and he’s out of a Lyphard mare, so he may not be the biggest colt. That’s maybe why he didn’t bring $500,000 or $600,000 because he’s that kind of horse. But judging from the other prices we’ve seen today, it’s hard to be upset with his price; $350,000 is a lot of money.”

Lane’s End stands Rock Hard Ten, the sire of the $350,000 filly, and she is a member of the stallion's second crop. Dennis Yokum bought her for Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stables. Moody raced Rock Hard Ten in partnership with Madeleine Pickens (formerly Paulson), and the son of the Kris S. won the 2005 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), 2004 Malibu Stakes (gr. I), and three other added-money events.

“This filly, I thought she was the best individual in the sale,” Yokum said. “She’s the best Rock Hard Ten I think I’ve seen. We’ve seen a number of good ones, and we’ve bred a number of good ones. I think she’s just a standout. She really looks like Rock Hard Ten. She’s a big, powerful-looking thing, and she’s got good length to her. She’s a nice, tall filly with a real athletic walk.”

The filly is the third reported foal out of the 9-year-old winning Seattle Slew mare Incredible Story. Two of the mare’s foals have raced. Dante’s Gulch (by Gulch) finished second six times and third once. Classic Chant (by War Chant) has been third twice.

“I thought she would be around $300,000,” said Yokum of his purchase. “I thought they could get a little strong on her because she was the best we were going to see, and the best, even in this market, are going to bring some money. But it’s a buyers’ market; she would have brought $600,000 a couple of years ago.”

Yokum said Moody owns the majority interest in Rock Hard Ten.

Meg Levy’s Bluewater Sales, agent, consigned the Rock Hard Ten filly. Cobra Farm, owned by Gary Biszantz, bred her in Kentucky.

The July sale’s second and final session is scheduled for July 21. It will begin at 10 a.m. (EDT).