As the yearling sales season kicks off July 12 with the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July selected sale in Lexington, breeders and consignors will be watching intently to get an indication of the market.
The July sale, which counts grade I winners Noble Bird , Dortmund , Birdatthewire, and Street Fancy as recent graduates, is the first of the summer and fall yearling auction season and as such is somewhat of a litmus test for the industry.
Among factors that could impact the bullishness of potential buyers are the upcoming presidential election, lack of stability in the U.S. economy, and less-than-stellar juvenile sales earlier in the year. To a lesser extent, the Brexit vote and 2016 effect on the British economy are concerns.
Most observers are hopeful that if the numbers stay close to last year, it would be considered a positive. The 2015 sale saw 205 of the 288 yearlings offered gross $20,005,000 for an average of $97,585 and a median price of $70,000. Both figures were the highest for the sale since 2007.
"There is always some anxiety before the start of any sale. There was a little heightened concern in some people's minds about what the activity level is going to be," said Fasig-Tipton president and CEO Boyd Browning. 'Consignors haven't been overwhelmed, but the pre-sale activity has been strong and similar to recent years.
"It has a normal July sale feel to it," he said. "I don't see any significant movement in the market."
"The interest level has definitely been above last year," said Kerry Cauthen of Four Star Sales. "We start out the year and we don’t know what to think. We will be delighted if it's stable and hope for something better. The top of the market will continue to get stronger and maybe separate itself a little more from the middle and lower markets.
"I think there is reason for apprehension, but I've been pleasantly surprised by the amount of traffic at the barns," said Mark Taylor of Taylor Made Sales Agency. "Sellers are going to have to be realistic in this market. There is a lot of uncertainty out there and people want to know they are getting value. If sellers go in with that mindset it will be a good sale."
Andrew Cary of Select Sales said past success on the track by July sale graduates provides buyers with a sense of confidence.
“They know they can get a good horse without breaking the bank,” Cary said. “We have 19 and the response has been very positive. The demand for quality is going to be strong.”
The July sale has always been a showcase for young stallions represented by their first crops of yearlings and this year is no exception, with about 30% of the nearly 350 yearlings cataloged sired by first-year stallions.
The Fasig-Tipton July selected yearling sale begins at 10 a.m. EDT July 12.