"We've had a good number of our horses vetted already and scoped, which means people are here looking to buy," said Kentucky bloodstock agent Peter Bradley, who is a partner with Florida pinhooker Nick de Meric, on Sunday. "It's not a last minute thing."Even so, he stopped short of predicting a rousing success. Last year, even though prices soared to unprecedented levels, the buy-back rate was a sobering 44.9%."The big question is how polarized will the market be?" Bradley said. "Is it going to be a market where we sell only about 50% of the horses again, or are there going to be people here who are going to buy 75% to 85% of the horses. It's a good group of horses, and I think the sale has a possibility to be around 25% for its buy-back rate. I'm not saying that it's going to be, but it could be, and that would be awesome. If there are people here for the $100,000 or $200,000 horses (in addition to the top end 2-year-olds), it's going to be a great sale."The auction begins at 11 a.m. (EST).
Tuesday's Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training has a lot to live up to in its 2006 edition. Last year, its gross revenue, average price, and median price all were world records for a juvenile auction. In addition, Ever Shifting, a Tale of the Cat – Carry All colt, became the highest-priced 2-year-old in training ever sold publicly when he brought $5.2 million.However, Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson said he "wouldn't be shocked" to see even more world records at Calder Race Course."We've set a pretty high bar, but we've got as good a bunch of horses this year as we've ever had, and it may be the best," he said. "The pinhookers bought good horses last year."And those horses have worked well. A Tiznow – Evil colt blazed a quarter mile in :20 3/5, and Fasig-Tipton officials couldn't recall another horse that had worked that distance faster prior to their auction. A Forestry – Magical Masquerade colt sizzled an eighth in :9 4/5.Veteran buyers like Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan, whose clients include wine mogul Jess Jackson, have been impressed."It's a nice bunch of horses, the kind we like," he said. "It's going to be very, very tough to buy the ones in here that are the top horses. The top horses I've seen are better than the top horses that were here last year."Other good signs, according to Robertson, include the increased interest from California trainers. Dan Hendricks, Richard Mandella, Jeff Mullins, John Sadler, and Neil Drysdale have been among the lookers. There also has been more interest from European horsemen, Robertson said, and there is a large contingent of Japanese shoppers.Some consignors reported that more buyers than usual looked at the horses between the first and second under tack shows instead of waiting until the day before sale.