A half-sister to recent Matron Stakes (gr. I) winner Meadow Breeze provided an exciting ending to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale Wednesday, topping the auction with her $220,000 price late during the third and final session in Maryland. Sean Magee, acting on behalf of his former employer, Florida pinhooker Nick De Meric, signed the sale ticket for the strapping gray filly from the first crop of the grade II-winning stallion Kafwain
. De Meric, reached by telephone, said the filly was for "a client from the Northeast who wants to remain low key."
The filly's expensive price was one of the highlights in a sale that set records for the number of horses sold and gross revenue while increasing its median price from a year ago to its second-highest level ever. However, the average price dropped, ending a three-year growth spurt, and the buy-back rate rose significantly.
"Overall, you're pleased when you establish a record gross and have a near-record average price and median," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "It was a good horse sale. I've kind of looked back historically where this sale has been. In 2003, the gross was $8.3 million. In 2004, it was $10.7 million, and in 2005, it was nearly $14.5 million. It's kind of stabilized. You can't continue to have expanding numbers and expanding averages forever. The upward trend seems to have reached a little bit of a plateau for the time being."
Fasig-Tipton reported that 658 horses were sold for a gross of $14,580,700. The gross was up less than one percent from the former sale record of $14,499,600 that was set in 2005.
The average price was $22,159, down 6.0% from last year's sale mark of $23,577. The median advanced 9.5% to $11,500 from $10,500 in 2005, ranking second only to 2004's comparable figure of $12,000. The buy-back rate rose from 21.6% last year to 31.6% this year. Twenty-five horses sold for $100,000 or more apiece compared to 26 in 2005.
The auction had its largest catalogue ever, with 1,053 horses listed. Some consignors complained there were too many horses. Sellers such as Charles McGinnes of Thornmar and Meg Levy of Bluewater Sales suggested that Fasig-Tipton offered a preferred session at the start of next year's sale, allowing consignors to pay a higher fee for their better horses to be sold early. Other sellers would like to see a select session, with sale company officials choosing the best horses.
"It's an open sale, and we took the horses that were offered to us," Browning said. "People wanted to come here to sell their horses. It's not a select sale, and there hasn't been a select sale here for over a decade. Were there some horses that had very limited commercial appeal because of their pedigrees? Unquestionably. But we're not going to deny people an opportunity to sell their horses. You're seeing an increased number of horses offered across the board commercially even though the foal crop may not be changing dramatically. Those folks have to have a market outlet somewhere, and ultimately the law of supply and demand will get your pendulum where it needs to be."
Said Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson of consignors' suggestions about offering a select or preferred session at the auction's start: "We had just as good a market today as we did the first day. One would think if you needed a preferred session that (a worse market on the final day) would be the reason. But I thought it was strong clear though. So, at this time, I'm thinking it's fine the way it is, three open days."
The third and final session statistics this year were 212 horses sold, a gross of $4,853,500, an average of $22,894, and a median of $11,500.
De Meric and his wife, Jaqui, became acquainted with the sale-topping Kafwain filly when they broke her in Florida after she became a $35,000 buy-back at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale. Meadow Breeze did not win the Matron until Sept. 23. While the important update in her pedigree made Meadow Breeze's half-sister more attractive as an investment, De Meric and his wife also were impressed by the yearling's conformation and how well she handled herself during the breaking process.
"We liked her balance and her athleticism, but we also liked her attitude" de Meric said. "She's not one to back out of a situation, but she's not overly aggressive. She has a rugged constitution, but she's feminine in her deportment."
Bluewater Sales, as agent, consigned the filly to both the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale and the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic auction. The sale topper is out of the 9-year-old unraced Unaccounted For mare Unacloud.
"I'm very pleased," said Bluewater's Levy of the filly's price. "The update made the big difference. She's the same filly physically, but she filled out a little more. She was tall and looked like she would need a little more time in July and just fell through the cracks. Then, when her 2-year-old half-sister won a grade I, she looked a lot more appealing,"