Giant's Causeway colt, brought Tuesday's top price.

Giant's Causeway colt, brought Tuesday's top price.

Japanese Foal Sale Ends With Record Gross; Giant's Causeway Colt Brings $1.35 Million

The second and final session of the Japan Racing Horse Association select foal sale Tuesday lacked the glitter of the opening day and its big sellers. But, with 102 foals sold and an 19.7% buy-back rate, it was still a huge success. Total revenue came to 3.2812 billion yen ($27,759,729), with an average price of 32,168,627 yen ($272,154) and a median price of 19,750,000 yen ($167,090).

Fusao Sekiguchi, who raced Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Fusaichi Pegasus, was once again the purchaser of the top-priced foal. Surprisingly, it was not a Sunday Silence colt, but one by Giant's Causeway. The colt--out of stakes-placed Red Velvet, by Avenue of Flags--sold for 160 million yen ($1,353,638). Red Velvet is a full sister to grade I winner Notable Career and a half-sister to grade I winner General Challenge (by General Meeting). The colt's consignor was Katsumi Yoshida's Northern Farm.

''I hadn't intended to buy the colt, but when I saw him today, I liked him and wanted him. I've always really liked his sire,'' Sekiguchi said, once again explaining his bidding policy of ''not setting any limits.''

Five other colts topped 100 million yen ($846,024) on the second day, all of them by Sunday Silence. They included one out of Fanjica (by Law Society) that sold for 154 million yen ($1,302,876) to Takaya Shimakawa and another out of Promotion (by Hector Proctector) that sold to Riichi Kondo for 139 million yen ($1,175,973).

Steady business on both days of the select sale boosted gross revenue to a record 7.0732 billion yen ($59,840,948), up 30.0% from a year ago, for the 211 foals sold. The buy-back rate was 23.6%. The average was 33,522,275 yen ($283,606), up 14.6%, and the median was 21 million yen, up 10.5%.

The sale was held at the Northern Horse Park on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Teruya Yoshida of Shadai Farm could only shake his head in ''joy'' and ''surprise'' as he read the gross sales figures off to reporters at the sale close.

''I think this is a figure that we are not going to see again in the history of this sale,'' he said. ''Honestly, I know it's strange to say, but I really don't know why foals were selling like they were. The prices are about double what we had expected.

''I asked a lot of people, however, and they all said the same thing, that the quality of the horses was really good this year. Of course, it being the last of the Sunday Silence foals helped a lot, but foals by Special Week and Agnes Tachyon were also bringing great prices.''

Trainers at the sale expressed the same opinion. They found prices to be high this year, but not excessively so considering the quality.

''Everything is selling high and there are lots of customers," said trainer Mitsuhiro Ogata. "The Sunday Silence colts were expected to draw buyers but prices seem higher all around. The overall quality is much better than in previous years.''

Trainer Yasuhisa Matsuyama agreed.

''The horses are of very good quality. And even though the economy is poor, foals are selling well," he said. "There is money out there. If you bring out the good stock you'll find buyers.''

Matsuyama said he had thought prices would be lower this year because of the economic slump, but found ''they are higher than average.''

There was no lack of buyers or funds at this year's sale, its sixth.

''People were coming to me and saying they couldn't buy because of the high prices," Yoshida said. "Later in the day, when they were able to make a purchase. I was congratulating them saying 'Oh, I'm glad you were able to buy.' I had to laugh. Normally it's the other way around, me saying, 'Oh, I'm glad we could sell!''

Yoshida also expressed his satisfaction that ''the sale has lost its image of only being for Shadai stock. The sale is being established as THE place to sell and buy quality stock,'' he said.

There were no purchases by foreign interests at this year's sale. John Ferguson, the bloodstock manager for Sheikh Mohammed, was expected to attend, but canceled his trip at the last moment.

Yoshida attributed the lack of foreign participation to the high prices the last crop of Sunday Silence was expected to attract.

''Foreigners were here, but they weren't buying," he said. "Buyers from overseas usually are looking at Sunday Silence stock but they probably couldn't afford them. Of course, maybe they didn't think they were worth it. But the Japanese buyers are just too strong. They see Sunday Silence colts and fillies winning time after time, so naturally that's what they want to buy, and they'll spend what's necessary to buy them.''

Yoshida said, though he was relieved to see foals by other stallions selling well, he did not foresee foreign buyers coming to buy in the future.

'' I think that if you don't see the horses winning, it's still hard to buy," he said. "It is my dream to take Japanese-bred horses abroad though to show the world just how strong they've become.''

One interesting development seen at this year's sale was the success of foreigner sellers, more accurately foreign interests indirectly consigning horses to be sold at the sale.

Paca Paca Farm, run by Irishman Harry Sweeney, brought five foals to the sale, selling four for an average price of 56.2 million yen ($475.465). According to Japanese racing expert Naohiro Goda, two of the foals were owned by outside interests. A Singspiel filly out of Silver Lane, which sold for 80 million yen ($676,819), was, according to Goda, owned by Watership Down Stud in England, and a Sunday Silence colt out of Danzig Withwolves, which went for 89 million yen ($752,961), was owned by the son of Ryan Air owner Dr. Tony Ryan.

''There's going to be a lot more foreigners wanting to sell in Japan after seeing this success,'' Goda said. ''If they're smart, that's what they'll do.

'' Yoshida agreed, adding, only half-jokingly. ''Right now, they're still coming to me with their mares, but when they start bringing in their own stallions, well then, I don't know.... ''