Fasig-Tipton Juvenile Auction Should Generate Fireworks

What should be the biggest juvenile auction of 2006 in terms of prices is scheduled for Tuesday in South Florida. Last February, the Fasig-Tipton select sale at Calder Race Course shattered world records for 2-year-olds in training for most expensive horse, gross revenue, average price, and median price. Expect more fireworks during this year's edition.

Plenty of the horses catalogued have the pedigree potential to generate big prices. Superstar Storm Cat is among the stallions with offspring scheduled to sell. In addition, the workouts were quick during the auction's first under tack show on Feb. 20, where the performances included an eighth-of-a-mile below :10. The second and final under tack show is scheduled Sunday at 10 a.m.

"There is certainly significant quality in our book both in terms of the quality of the horses at the end of the shank and in their racetrack performance," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We had a bunch of horses that worked well during our first under tack show, they looked good doing it, and they look good when you go to the barn. In the 2-year-old sales, you've got to pass all three tests, and we had a number of horses that I thought passed all three tests with flying colors in the first preview. They have good conformation, they looked good on the video, and they worked within a reasonable timeframe in terms of demonstrating some level of athletic ability."

But will there be a big enough bang at Fasig-Tipton to produce impressive financial gains from the already world record levels?

In the first major select juvenile auction of the year, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. (OBS) sale at Calder on Feb. 7, the results were mixed. The market remained strong enough to generate a sale record average for the third year in a row, but the gross and the median suffered setbacks. However, the size of those downturns wasn't alarming.

"One thing that was indicative from looking at the OBS sale results and from actually being there is that there is demand for quality racing prospects right now," Browning said. "That was demonstrated at their sale, and I think it will be demonstrated at our sale.

"I don't have numbers written down anywhere in terms of the average or gross that we hope to have. Hopefully, we will have lively marketplace, with some fireworks at the top end to create the energy and excitement that can help propel the sale. And we hope that the buy-back rate is not at an insane level. But I don't think there's any way to sustain big jumps in prices. If you do a graph, at some point you can't continue the same level of increases that we've enjoyed in recent years. I think it would be unrealistic to expect a big jump in the average price. It was over $300,000 last year."

The exact average in 2006 was $341,034. The other statistics for the 147 horses sold were a gross of $50,132,000 and a median of $200,000. The highest-priced horse – a Tale of the Cat  colt named Ever Shifting -- sold for $5.2 million. There was only one discouraging figure, the buy-back rate, which climbed to 44.9% from 36.3% the previous year.

The sale begins at 11 a.m. (EST) Tuesday at Calder. More than 300 2-year-olds are catalogued.