Gross, Average Decline Slightly At Fasig-Tipton Calder Sale

Not much changed in the market for 2-year-olds in training at Fasig-Tipton Florida's select sale at Calder Race Course Tuesday. Compared to 2002, the gross revenue and average price both were down by only 1.4% while the buy-back rate decreased slightly, from 45.2% last year to 43.5% this year.

Given all the uncertainty in the world, Fasig-Tipton officials were not disappointed with the results.

"If you consider the change in circumstances--both in terms of the economic and political climates -- and you consider that this market is pretty much identical to last year, we had a good sale; we didn't lose much ground," said Terrence Collier, Fasig-Tipton's director of marketing.

The 139 horses sold grossed $29,077,000 and averaged $209,187. In 2002, the same number of horses was sold, grossing $29,479,000 and averaging $212,079. Only the median changed significantly, suffering a 14.3% decline while falling from $175,000 last year to $150,000 this year.

"We're not happy, but we're not unhappy; it was a pretty good sale," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We're living in pretty tumultuous economic and political times, so pretty good is a whole lot better than the alternative.

"There is one really great statistic in this whole deal," he continued. "The average yearling purchase price (for pinhooked horses of $74,909) going into the sale was down 22% from last year, but our average price is down by less than two percent."

Two horses brought seven-figure prices compared to one in 2002. This year's sale topper, at $1.4 million, was a Tale of the Cat colt out of the stakes-winning Mr. Leader mare Satin Sunrise. Irish agent Demi' O'Byrne was the buyer, outlasting Canadian veterinarian Robert McMartin, who was representing pharmaceutical executive and Florida farm owner Eugene Melnyk.

A half-brother to Florida Oaks (gr. III) winner French Satin (by French Deputy), the colt was among several horses that shared the honors for the fastest pre-sale workout time at an eighth of a mile, covering the distance in :10 during the Feb. 16 under tack show.

"He breezed well, and I liked his sire," O'Byrne said. "He looks like Tale of the Cat; I hope he's as fast his sire was."

According to O'Byrne, the colt will remain in America and Michael Tabor "will definitely" be his owner. O'Byrne said he wasn't immediately sure if Coolmore Stud's John Magnier would be a partner or not.

Carl Lizza's Flying Zee Stable purchased the colt for $100,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale. He was consigned to Fasig-Tipton's Calder auction by Florida-based pinhooker Robert Scanlon, who said he owned the colt in partnership with Lizza and another man who did not want to be identified.

"I thought he would bring a $1 million, but I didn't expect $1.4 million," said a smiling Scanlon. "When you get Demi and Eugene Melnyk hooked up, it's a dream come true."

The sale's other seven-figure juvenile was a Storm Cat filly that brought a $1-million dollar bid from LeRoy Jolley. The Hall-of-Fame trainer didn't stop long to talk to reporters, saying only that he was acting on behalf of "a partnership that wants to race a Storm Cat."

Produced from the winning Ogygian mare Sun Blush, the filly is a half-sister to stakes winner Relinquish (by Rahy). Other members of their family include European champion Giant's Causeway (by Storm Cat) and North American champion Dearly Precious. The $1-million filly worked an eighth in :10 3/5 on Feb. 16.

Kathleen Schonefeld purchased the filly for $115,000 at the 2002 Keeneland September yearling sale. She owned her in partnership with Rick and Susan Imbert. Schonefeld lives in Texas; the Imberts lives in New York. Danny Pate of Solitary Oak consigned the filly to the Fasig-Tipton Calder auction as agent.