Kitty Taylor, Warrendale Sales

Kitty Taylor, Warrendale Sales

Anne M. Eberhardt

Market Chatter: Lots of Concern About Market

Buyers and sellers are expecting downturns to continue at F-T July yearling sale.

Read what people have been saying about their expectations for the Fasig-Tipton July select yearling sale, which is scheduled for July 20 and 21 in Lexington:

Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton president: “We had a busy day yesterday (July 17), and we look forward to seeing some new faces roll into town today and tomorrow. I think we’ve got a nice group of horses on the grounds. The weather is beautiful. We anticipate the sale is going to be a continuation of what we’ve seen in recent trends – competitive and a lot of activity for the quality offerings. The less desirable offerings are going to be extremely hard to sell, and the middle market is going to require consignors, in setting their reserves, to have a very good idea of who’s on their horse and what that person is realistically thinking. The sellers need to be reasonable in the middle segment of the market. I don’t think anybody would be surprised to see some adjustment (downward in prices).”

Ron Blake, Blake Agency: “We hope it’s a good sale. There will be a lot of people here. Fasig-Tipton has recruited a lot of buyers, and the number (of horses) is lower, which is always good. When this sale had too many horses, it always struggled, so with 494 we might be OK. If we can get a leveling off in the market, I think we will have accomplished something and then we can start going the other way.”

Samantha Siegel, California buyer: “As buyers, we hope the market does what it’s supposed to do, be down. Let’s not have this be a trend-buster. We’re hoping the prices of the horses will be a little more reasonable. But good horses always bring good money, and the same people wind up on the same horses. It’s just a question of who likes what and how much they’re willing to give. We’ve set a number (to buy) for the year, and we’re probably going to be extra picky, but then we’ve always been like that anyway.”

Sergio de Sousa, managing partner, Hidden Brook: “We are cautiously optimistic, I suppose. We know the market is low, and we are going to set our expectations accordingly. We have some nice horses, but we’re prepared for the market to be off 30% to 40%, and we’re OK with that. Hopefully, the buyers will come and try to get some value.”

Joe Seitz, Brookdale Farm: “For this sale, I know Fasig-Tipton has made quite a bit of effort to attract trainers and new buyers. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen, so I would hope that would translate into some good and new activity.”

Barry Irwin, Team Valor International: “I just bought a yearling privately in Europe and that has taken some of my money, so I’m just going to try to buy a couple of horses here. It’s going to be a good buyers’ sale, but the way the market is right now and the amount of money people have to invest, I’m not going to go crazy myself.”

Kitty Taylor, Warrendale Sales: “Everybody is worried about the economy and the pinhookers. Who’s going to show up? Who’s not going to show up? We’ve been really busy this morning (July 17). I’m seeing all familiar faces, but it’s early in the whole process. In the conversations I’ve had with people, they’re saying, ‘This is what we do. We’re not going to stop doing what we do.’ But I think their level (of participation) will be lower. I think there’s no question that everybody has lower expectations financially. You’re going to be real cautious with your reserves unless you want to go on to a 2-year-old sale or race your horses.”

Tim Thornton, general manager, Airdrie Stud: “In this business, you’ve got to be an eternal optimist, so we’re hoping for the best. The sale is going to be down; it’s just a matter of how much. There’s enough action here; we’ve had quite a few lookers. If it’s anywhere from 25% to 30% down, I think we’ll be happy. Hopefully, it won’t be any worse than that. Fasig-Tipton has done a really good job of getting buyers here. There are a lot of people here and a lot of nice horses here.”

Buzz Chace, New Jersey bloodstock agent: “We’ve got a lot of horses on our short list already. It’s the same as usual. There’s a lot of nice individuals, and hopefully it’s going to be a good sale for everybody. You probably will be able to buy horses for reasonable prices, but I think the high end will stay high. I think it’s a good time to buy horses.”

Mark Taylor, Taylor Made Sales Agency: “You’ve got to expect the actual raw numbers in the statistical categories to be off from last year. This sale was conducted (in 2008) before the economic crisis really came to light and so I think that it's going to be down. It’s just a matter of how much it’s going to be down. I like what Fasig-Tipton has done in terms of trying to bring more trainers in and raise the level of the caliber horse they were taking. I know they were more stringent with the horses we submitted to the sale, so across the board, I think there should be a little higher level of horse here. There are fewer horses, and if  Fasig-Tipton can get more trainers to come, hopefully that mitigates the depreciation you’re going to have from last year just based on the market. That’s my hope.”

Reynolds Bell, Kentucky bloodstock agent: “This sale will be interesting with the different ownership (of Fasig-Tipton). I’m curious to see how they go about presenting and marketing the horses. What they did was very impressive (at the Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training this year). I know that they really intend to improve their product, and they seem to have the resources to be able to do it. Obviously, I don’t expect the market to be in line with where it was last year. That would be pretty foolish. But good horses always seem to have plenty of people who are there to buy them. You can always find good horses, which is what I try to do, and I don’t expect to steal anything.”

Pat Costello, Paramount Sales: “It’s hard to figure out the market. Hopefully, there is some money here. We’ve got some nice horses and hopefully, we’ll be able to find some homes for them. If we see it down 25% to 30%, I’d say we won’t be too unhappy. We’re expecting that. We just have to watch our reserves. I got a text from a Florida horseman this morning (July 17) wishing me the best of luck, but saying that he wouldn’t be here. He normally was here the day we shipped in trying to see horses, and he normally bought a few.”

Elliott Walden, vice president and racing manager, WinStar Farm: “When we made our projections for the year, we projected a 25% to 30% reduction, and we adjusted the appraisals of our own (sale) yearlings to match that. As buyers, we primarily look at colts -- something that could be a potential stud prospect down the road -- and we also like to support our own sires. With a 25% to 30% reduction, I think there will be opportunities to buy (yearlings for more reasonable prices).”

Neil Howard, Gainesway: “I’m anticipating the market to be very selective. You’ve got the economy recovering and some other positive things happening, but I think everybody still is going to be careful with what they buy. If I was a regular buyer of yearlings, I would expect a discount. The horse I was going to have to pay $200,000 for last year or the year before last, I might expect to get for $150,000 and save 25% or even 30%. I’m not saying the sale is going to be off by that much, but I think people are going to expect the prices to be off by that much. But whenever buyers come to a sale expecting to find bargains, they find nice horses and, all of a sudden, the market’s not off as much as everybody thought it was going to be.”

Tommy Eastham, Legacy Bloodstock:  There’s a lot of anticipation to find out what the market will be like. I think this sale is going to be down compared to last year, and that’s typical of the economic climate that we’re in. There are a lot of good horses here, and I think the top 25% is going to sell real well. Your average horse is probably going to be a little tougher to get sold. You’re going to have to be real creative and you’re going to have to work a little harder as a consignor. Because we sell so many horses, we have buyers who will call up and give us their parameters for the horses they are going to buy. In previous years, they have asked us about horses between $150,000 and $175,000. This year, they’re down to $35,000 to $60,000. That’s not everybody, but we’re finding that the buyers that we’re talking to are definitely going to be more conservative. They think they’re going to be able to buy them for a lower price and get just as much horse.”

Paul Sharp, Florida pinhooker: “I’m going to be as conservative as I have always been. I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen here, but I’m still looking for horses and I’m going to be ready to buy. For everybody’s sake, I hope the market is good. But there’s going to be some soft spots and you just need to be ready to capitalize on those.”

Reiley McDonald, Eaton Sales: “I’m like anybody else coming into the sale; I do so with limited expectations. I think that 10% of the horses are going to sell really well, and I have no idea what the other 90% are going to do. There will be some real bargains to be had. There are still nice horses here, as there are every year, but as for the middle part of this market, it still remains to be seen what it will do.”

Joe Appelbaum, pinhooker, Off The Hook: “If you’re in this business, you have to have a positive mindset. Otherwise, you’re not going to be in this business. We have a positive outlook. We sold some nice ones earlier this year. We probably have a little more inventory left over than we would like right now, but we’re moving along on selling those horses. Good horses still get sold. It’s the mediocre or average ones that are hard to get done. The buyers of those horses are the ones that we’ve lost a little – probably because of both the economy and the industry’s own internal issues. It’s harder on the average horseman these days. The last couple of years our focus has been on a smaller number of horses and trying to look for quality. We’re going to keep doing that. We’re trying to have a few really good horses to sell come next spring. We’re more home run hitters than high percentage hitters.”

Andy Havens, Havens Bloodstock Agency: “I don’t know how to do anything else, so I’m plugging away and just trying to find nice horses. We’ve done really well out of this sale, and we’ve seen a number of good horses so far. We are hoping to buy horses that we haven’t  been able to buy before. It’s not so much that we’re looking for bargains, but we’re maybe hoping to have access to some horses that we couldn’t have bought in the past. On the other hand, I’m trying to sell horses here, too. There’s kind of this Circuit City mentality going around among buyers. You get a lot of action and a lot of interest, but people don’t really want to pay a lot of money. Remember when Circuit City opened their doors to sell everything out and everybody got mad because they were only 10% off in their prices? I just think buyers are interested in buying things at the right price.”