A sloppy track at Timonium forced officials to move the final Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale under tack show to May 20

A sloppy track at Timonium forced officials to move the final Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale under tack show to May 20

Judit & Tibor Photography

Fasig-Tipton Sellers, Buyers Adapt to Schedule Change

Final under tack show rescheduled for May 20.

Safety first.

That was the takeaway by buyers and sellers following the decision by Fasig-Tipton to postpone the final session of workouts May 17 in preparation for next week's Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale.

Along with moving the third and final under tack show to May 20, sale company officials also pushed back the scheduled start times of the May 21-22 sale sessions from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to allow plenty of time for buyers to evaluate horses that breeze Sunday. The under tack show start time Sunday will be determined later, based on track and weather conditions

The decision came after some 36 hours of steady rain in the Baltimore area inundated the track at the Maryland State Fairgrounds near Timonium. Tuesday's first under tack session was conducted in sunny, sticky weather, with temperatures in the 90s. Following a severe thunderstorm that night, the track was sealed—a technique using equipment to pack down the surface so less water is absorbed—and the Wednesday works went on as scheduled, a credit to the fairgrounds maintenance crew.

But as the rain, heavy at times, continued into Thursday, the track became unsafe for the horses and their riders, and management was left with little choice but to alter the schedule.

"The track conditions were such that it would not have permitted the safe conduct of an under tack show," Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said.

Under the sale format, the Friday following the three-day under tack show would have been devoted to inspections and analysis of workout videos. Saturday would be primarily an off day, with the Preakness Stakes (G1) at nearby Pimlico Race Course, and then inspections and analysis would resume Sunday on the eve of the Monday sale launch. The later start time each day also means the sessions that generally last about six hours will go well into the evening.

"There is no question that individuals in the horse industry are used to adapting, and we've tried to take everything into consideration and make the best possible decision under the circumstances. Moving the under tack show to Sunday will allow those horses to be represented in the best and safest environment possible," Browning said.

"I wanted to give buyers the maximum amount of time to evaluate the horses and to give sellers whose horses are now going to go Sunday instead of Thursday the maximum amount of show time," he continued. "Looking at all the options, starting at 2 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday gave us the maximum amount of additional time for both buyers and sellers."

Fasig-Tipton's decision was well-received by most participants in the auction.

"It was a smart move," said Sean Tugel, director of bloodstock services and assistant racing manager for WinStar Farm and part of the buying inspection team. "If people are smart with their time, they will do today what they (normally) could do Sunday (under the previous schedule)."

"Obviously, we're not used to being put out like this," consignor Niall Brennan said. "But it's out of anyone's control, and you have to adapt. It's very unusual to get this many days of rain in a row. So we just have to adapt. We can work around it."

For consignors like Brennan with a large number entered in the sale, the rescheduled under tack session posed logistical issues he and the riders on his workout horses will have to navigate.

One of Brennan's regular workout riders, jockey Nik Goodwin, was set to leave Maryland on Thursday to ride at Canterbury Park in Minnesota over the weekend. Brennan said Goodwin, who also works horses for other consignors, would still ride at Canterbury on Friday and Saturday, and arrangements were underway late Thursday morning to get him back to Timonium late Saturday in time for the Sunday workouts.

"Nik rides at Canterbury Park in the summer, so he's got to go back. But we're trying to arrange to get him back on a late Saturday," Brennan said. "People are obviously having to regroup. As you can see, they are already doing today what they wouldn't have had a chance to do, and that is look at the horses that breezed on the first two days."

Despite the sale beginning one day after the final workouts, Brennan said buyers should have time to evaluate their selections.

"People are still going to look at what they want and get it done," he said. "It's very workable. First and foremost, you have to look at the performance of the animal, because that is what the sale depends on. And they have to see them on the racetrack, and you have to give them the opportunity to do that."

Al Pike of Pike Racing also applauded Fasig-Tipton's decision, noting some of his consignment's better horses were scheduled to breeze Thursday.

"I am excited about that decision," Pike said. "What concerned me the most is that during my career, I've seen a lot of bad horses look good in the mud, and I've seen a lot of good horses look bad in the mud. I'm excited maybe we'll have a good track Sunday, and they can show what they can do.

"I am a little concerned because (buyers) won't have enough time to do their due diligence. But it could work out great. Sometimes, I think they talk themselves out of a good horse. We're just going to roll with the punches."