Lydia A. Williams

Brisk Activity at Fasig-Tipton Sale Grounds

Track at Maryland State Fairgrounds reopened after delay in under tack workouts.

It was business as usual at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale grounds the morning of May 18, a day after the final under tack workouts in preparation for next week's 2-year-old sale were rescheduled due to track conditions.

While buyers continued their inspections—mainly looking at the horses that had worked during the first two under tack sessions Tuesday and Wednesday—activity on the reopened, muddy track at the Maryland State Fairgrounds was busy as consignors opted to send many of the horses that will breeze during Sunday's rescheduled under tack show to the track.

"The track man got the track ready to go by 7 a.m. … there has been a lot of activity, and everybody is pleased," said Midlantic sales director Paget Bennett. "I don't think it's as sloppy as some other tracks, so we're fortunate."

With additional rain forecast for Friday and Saturday around Timonium, where the sale will be held May 21-22 with sessions beginning at 2 p.m. daily (revised from the original 11 a.m. start time), Bennett said Fasig-Tipton officials will wait until later to decide what time the Sunday under tack show will begin, basing it on track conditions and the forecast.

"We have to get deeper into the weekend to see what the weather is going to do, since it can change so quickly," Bennett said. "We have to do what's best for all to give them the best surface possible."

Randy Miles was among the consignors who said the sale company made the right decision to reschedule the workouts after the track was deemed unsafe for horses and riders following several days of rain.

"We galloped horses this morning, and it's a very sloppy track, so I think Fasig-Tipton made the right decision," Miles said. "Horses need to come first in all of our decisions. The forecast is clear with a little bit of sun Sunday, so it looks like we lucked out."

Miles said the short turnaround between the final workouts Sunday and the Monday start of the sale should not pose a challenge to buyers.

"Buyers will have plenty of time; they need a little help in making up their minds anyway," he said.

Pete Bradley, who was inspecting horses to purchase and also has four entered in the sale, agreed the timing between under tack show and sale should not be problematic.

"I don't think the delay is going to have much of an effect," Bradley said. "All of us are going to be here over the weekend anyway, and 80% of the people who buy these horses do it based on viewing the (under tack show) videos, so it's a minor change.

"I think the whole format of this sale has always been too long," Bradley said of the sale that begins two days after the Preakness Stakes (G1) at nearby Pimlico Race Course. "It's the most tedious sale that I work. There are three breeze shows, and then they wrap it around the Preakness, which I understand. With this number of horses (600 are cataloged), I think you could do (workouts) in two days. Having the under tack show on Wednesday and Thursday and then out of here on Tuesday would be best."