If pre-sale interest is any indication, changes in Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic winter mixed sale that takes place Dec. 5 are resonating with buyers and sellers. Held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Md., the sale begins at 11 a.m. ET.
Including supplemental entries, the catalog consists of 309 horses spanning the spectrum from weanlings to accomplished stakes performers. That represents an increase of 35.6% over the 228 entered in last year's winter mixed sale when it was held in January of this year.
In addition to moving the sale back to its traditional date in December, Fasig-Tipton added a horses in training component that has proven popular with consignors and—based on activity leading up to Tuesday's sale—with buyers.
Topped by a "short yearling" son of Dialed In purchased by Machmer Hall for $70,000 from the consignment of Bill Reightler, agent, the January sale saw 141 horses gross $906,400 for an average price of $6,428 and a $3,500 median. Although the gross was up 3%, the average and median represented declines of 24% and 20%, respectively, from the January 2016 auction.
The return to December was in response to consignor preferences due to time demands on many horsemen at the start of the year, according to Paget Bennett, Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales director.
"We have a lot of consignors who are very busy on the farms, so January was hard on them because they are in the foaling barn and doing other things they do in the spring, and trying to figure out how to do a sale too was hard," Bennett said. "They couldn't be in both places at the same time. They said they have more horses they can offer if we do it in December and those consignors responded with much bigger consignments."
Bennett said pleasant weather combined with the expanded and diverse catalog proved attractive for pre-sale activity.
"The right people are here looking and I feel confident there will be more coming today and it will be really busy Tuesday before the sale starts," she said Monday. "The racing age horses have been very popular. We have horses that ran over the weekend, so we have a few that are still on their way to the sale grounds, but it's worth the wait because they won or had a good finish.
"I've heard from consignors that they have already had vetting, and scoping and that's very positive and encouraging to be already getting that activity on the first day of showing," Bennett continued.
Consignor Chris Gracie said he believes holding the Midlantic sale before Keeneland's January horses of all ages sale could give a lift to the weanling market.
"I like the change to December because it takes place before the Keeneland January sale so hopefully there will be traffic for weanlings and from pinhookers," Gracie said, adding that buyer traffic in the barn area Sunday was better than expected. "We were a lot busier than I thought we would be on the first day. There is a good group of racehorses (cataloged) and people always want horses that are ready to go. It is easier to sell horses that are closer to a race."
"We were surprisingly busy," said consignor Clovis Crane. "It was the heaviest traffic I have ever seen two days before a December sale."
Included among the large number of offerings from Crane Thoroughbreds are horses being sold as part of the dispersal of Harry Weisleder/DASL Stable.
Weisleder, a horseman who was a friend and partner with Crane in the horse business, died suddenly of a heart attack the morning of Nov. 6. Weisleder, 72, a dentist in Harrisburg, Pa., is survived by his wife, Cammy, and four children.
"There is whole range of horses for people, from proven stakes horses to maidens with potential," Crane said of the sale entries. "With the number of racehorses, we are going to have a much larger group of buyers than this sale has ever seen. They could have just a sale for the racehorses and it would be a good sale.
"I'm optimistic with the number of people we saw Sunday that we are going to have a good sale and do Harry's family some good," Crane said of the Weisleder horses that are being offered without reserve. "There were a lot of people here who generally wouldn't be here. I have had calls from major agents in the country. I think it's the excitement of knowing these horses wouldn't be on the market were it not for the unfortunate situation."