File written by Adobe Photoshop� 4.0

File written by Adobe Photoshop� 4.0

Fasig-Tipton Sale Starts Wednesday; Offers Largest Catalogue Ever

Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's July select yearling sale thrived last year. Its average price of $96,671 increased by 26% from 2000, and reached its highest point since 1984. The median price of $70,000 rose by 27%.

This year's edition, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Lexington, will have to overcome a couple of big hurdles to enjoy the same success. The company has catalogued a record number of horses, 604, for the auction. And such an increase will make it difficult to keep the average growing for an eighth straight year.

There also is the challenge posed by the tumbling stock market. Even though foreign interest was strong last year, Fasig-Tipton traditionally has relied more on the participation of American buyers than Keeneland in July. While this country's economy has little direct effect on Middle Eastern royalty and Irish bloodstock magnates, it could make domestic businessmen uneasy about spending big bucks for luxury items like horses.

Even so, Bill Graves, Fasig-Tipton's director of yearlings sales is optimistic.

"We're expecting a real good horse sale; we feel real positive," he said. "We have as much or more quality than we've ever had. Even though we are offering more horses than in the past, we picked just as hard as we did last year or even harder. The stock market is always a concern. But maybe there will be people who will want to put their money in a different place than the stock market."

The effects of mare reproductive loss syndrome and worries about terrorism and world affairs also could but a damper on Fasig-Tipton's business. However, the uncertain times have been around for many months, and business at horse sales in 2002 has remained fairly stable.

Sessions begin each day at 10 a.m. (EDT).