File Photo

F-T Juvenile Sale Faces Tough Economy

The fanciest juvenile sale in the world faces off against a financial crisis.

The fanciest juvenile sale in the world faces off against the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression March 3 at Calder Race Course, and based on the results of other recent Thoroughbred auctions, prices probably will be down considerably.

“We’re all in a wait-and-see situation, but with the economy the way it is, there is no reason to think the market here is going to be any different than it’s been,” said Kentucky bloodstock agent Headley Bell of the outlook for the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training, which will offer young racing prospects by such standout sires as A.P. Indy and Storm Cat.

Many of the fall and winter mixed stock auctions experienced downturns of 40% or more, while the first 2-year-old sale of the year, the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. select juvenile auction, suffered setbacks of 29.3% in gross revenue and 33.7% in average price.

Buyers and their representatives who attended the Fasig-Tipton sale’s under tack show Feb. 27 said they will be looking for discounts even though the 272 horses listed in the catalog had to meet high standards for pedigree and/or conformation.

“If Ocala was anything to go on, it should be easier to shop; that’s what we’re hoping for,” said England-based trainer Brian Meehan. “I would imagine the economy is going to have an effect because there has been an effect everywhere else; I can’t see the prices not dropping. It’s not good for the industry, but it’s good for me personally.”

Satish Sanan of Padua Stables expressed a similar opinion.

“From what I hear, there are some good horses here, and I think people are looking forward to the sale,” he said. “But I still think it will be down, just like the OBS sale, and that will be good for the end-users, there’s no question about it. People like me who breed to race or buy to race think it’s an excellent market right now. The correction was needed.”

The Fasig-Tipton Florida sale holds the world juvenile auction records of $62,187,000 for gross, $403,812 for average, and $250,000 for median price. The gross and average marks were established in 2006 when The Green Monkey became the most expensive Thoroughbred ever sold at public auction, bringing $16 million from Irish agent Demi O’Byrne. The record for median dates back to 2007.

Last year, the 102 horses that sold (the lowest total in the auction’s history) grossed $35,100,000 and averaged $344,118. Compared to 2007, the gross plunged 19.5% and the average fell 2.2%. The median dropped 8% to $230,000.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Fasig-Tipton chairman Walt Robertson. “We’ve got nice horses this year, and I don’t care what kind of economy you’re dealing with, good horses still sell well. A lot of buyers have come in, and we had a good crowd at our breeze show.”

According to Naohiro Goda of the Tokyo-based Regent Co., more Japanese buyers are attending this year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida sale, and they are spread among “seven or eight groups,” he added.

Even though Japan has considerable economic woes of its own to deal with, its horsemen are interested in shopping at Calder because “bloodstock in America is cheaper than it was before, and the yen is strong (against the dollar),” Goda said. “It’s a good opportunity to buy."

The auction begins at 11 a.m. (EST)  March 3.