The Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale in October in Lexington isn’t glamorous. It comes at the end of the yearling selling season, so it generalyl doesn't attract the best of the available stock.
Horses wind up there because they get sick or suffer injuries, and others are entered because their breeders don’t want to sell them during the final days of the marathon Keeneland September yearling auction.
Many of the yearlings have blue-collar pedigrees. The average price at last year’s sale was a modest $13,512.
But even though the auction isn’t one of the sale calendar’s premier events, it does have the distinction of counting the two most recent Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brand (gr. I) winners among its graduates.
Big Brown , the 2008 Run for the Roses winner, was consigned to the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall sale by his breeder, Monticule, and was purchased by Florida pinhooker Eddie Woods for $60,000. The following year, Woods offered Big Brown in the Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training, and Hidden Brook, as agent for Paul Pompa Jr., bought the colt for $190,000.
This year’s shocking Derby winner, Mine That Bird, was sold by Highclere Sales as agent to Dominion Bloodstock Agency for $9,500 at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton fall auction. The gelding later was sold privately to his present owners for $400,000.
The Fasig-Tipton fall sale’s recent emergence as the mother lode of Derby runners is a result of “the flying fickle finger of fate,” joked Fasig-Tipton director of marketing Terence Collier.
But on a more serious note, he said, Mine That Bird’s rise to prominence highlights the fact that “the October yearling sale has been one that has consistently benefited from visitors from north of the border. We have recruited hard at Woodbine every year to get people down here because the timing has been right and the prices have been right. They have come down here and have regularly supported this sale. We are delighted even though Canadians no longer own Mine That Bird that the hard work that this one particular buyer did to find that horse in 2007 was very well rewarded. He (trainer Dave Cotey of Dominion Bloodstock) came back with the proceeds of the sale of the horse and spent a lot of money in October of last year to buy more horses here. It’s a real feel good deal for us.”
Fasig-Tipton director of client services Max Hodge “is our point guy in Canada with specific reference to the October sale,” Collier said. “When that catalog comes out, Max takes boxes of them and goes up and hustles the backside at Woodbine. It has been not mildly successful; it’s been spectacularly successful. We’ve had a regular contingent of Canadian buyers coming down here who target the October sale.”
The Canadian interest in shopping in the fall at Fasig-Tipton “goes back probably 15 years, even before there was an October yearling sale,” Collier said. “When we had an earlier fall yearling sale, they were a buying group that really wasn’’t being taken care of. They obviously had lots of options in September, but they weren’t the focus of anybody’s attention. And there was a group of people up there looking for non-Canadian pedigrees which they couldn’t find in their own yearling sale. It was just a fortunate conjunction of events. We promoted it hard in Canada, and we’ve always had a following for our fall yearling sale amongst Canadian trainers.”
Fasig-Tipton officials announced earlier this year that the October sale wouldn’t be conducted, but it was reinstated after buyers and consignors asked Fasig-Tipton management to reverse its decision.
“When we announced the sale was a candidate for cancellation, the howls from north of the border, and from Panama, and from South America were the loudest,” Collier said. “The reaction from the buyers, which was somewhat reflected by the sellers, was probably what raised our heads enough to reevaluate that situation.”
This year’s Kentucky fall yearling sell is scheduled for Oct. 26-28.