Breeder and owner Lewis Lakin best summed up the opening session of the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale when he said: “I did not expect the market to be this good.”
The opening session of the two-day sale, held July 14-15 at the sale company’s Newtown Paddocks near Lexington, saw the gross fall 16% to $13,311,000, the average increase 5% to $93,739, and the median hold steady at $75,000.
“I really thought the stock market doing so poorly would affect this sale,” said Lakin, who added his favorite first-crop sires were Eurosilverand Purge. “I didn’t see any foreign buyers here, and those would be the ones that would be dealing with low dollars. I didn’t see a lot of trainers who deal with a lot of money. Yet, the people are here paying the prices that I didn’t think they would pay. As a breeder I am very happy to see it.”
Trainer Kenny McPeek, who was an active buyer, took a realistic approach to the downturn in the market.
“I think anytime the market is down it is the best time to buy,” he said. “The market has been so strong for so long, so correction is not a bad thing. The horses that we have bought, they have been at value and we are going to continue to raise our hand as long as there is value, and the value is there. Hopefully, we can take advantage of the market and buy some nice horses for realistic prices.”
Billed as a new sire showcase, the 2008 opening session was topped by a $330,000 son of first-crop sire Unforgettable Max, purchased by Hidden Brook, agent. The top-priced filly, a $300,000 daughter of Saint Liam purchased by John Fort’s Peachtree Stable, who was the underbidder on the Unforgettable Max colt, is from the first and only crop of the 2005 Horse of the Year.
Champion Saint Liam was euthanized in August 2006 after suffering a fracture to his left hind leg while being led to his paddock at William S. Farish’s Lane’s End Farm near Versailles, Ky., where he was standing his first season at stud.
Owned by William Warren Jr., and his wife, Suzanne, Saint Liam’s lone crop yielded 96 foals.
“Anytime a filly like that does well, there aren’t going to be a lot of horses coming along to dilute the value,” Fort said of the daughter of Saint Liam. “If a stallion stands around for 20 years than maybe he does have a few great horses, but there are an awful lot of average horses to dilute the overall influence. So, I thought that was an appealing factor that she was by a stallion that only had one crop. If she turns out to be a great racemare then she’ll be very special."
Randy Hartley of Ocala, Fla.,-based Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds said he was impressed with the bodies Unforgettable Max is putting on his offspring.
“Unforgetable Max is just a horse that everyone likes,” he said. “He is big, strong, beautiful, and looks like what you would want one to look like.”
In addition to Unforgettable Max and Saint Liam, other first-year sires receiving buzz were Purge, Closing Argument, Medalist, Eurosilver, and Afleet Alex. Afleet Alex and Unforgettable Max are full brothers by Northern Afleet out of the Hawkster mare Maggy Hawk.
“We have really liked the Purge’s, and they have been one of our favorite horses,” said Mark Toothacre of Legacy Bloodstock. “They have been very sensible and have a great temperament. What we found on most all of them is that they have really great walks, and that is what a lot of the pinhookers are looking for.”
Concerning the opening day market, Toothacre said it played out like expected and followed the pattern of previous sales. “I think this is our typical sale in that they are buying the best, and there is nobody there for the rest,” he said. “There is not a real bottom at this sale. There is a lot of pinhookers here with very few end users. If you have a horse that will work for the pinhookers then there is plenty of money here for that horse, and if you have a horse that needs a little bit more time, that is more of an end-user horse, then there is not a lot of those people here. You’re either in the money, or you are not getting much of anything.”
Kerry Cauthen of Four Star Sales said he was impressed by the offspring of Closing Argument. “They have a durability of a Successful Appeal , but they have more flash and have a little more smoothness about them,” he said.
Cauthen also was impressed with the opening-day market. “I think at this point and time we are not seeing the economy come into effect, but that does not mean we will not see it in the later books of Keeneland,” he said. “I’m really encouraged to be honest. There are a lot of pinhookers here buying horses, and there are a lot of racehorse people here buying horses. It will be a higher buy-back rate possibly. But, there are a lot of people who still want to invest in horses.”