The law of supply and demand will get a major test beginning Monday when the yearling selling season kicks off in Lexington with the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select yearling auction.
The sale has its largest catalogue ever of 679 horses, a total that represents a whopping 37.2% increase from last year's figure of 495. It will be interesting to see if buyer demand, which was enthusiastic a year ago, keeps pace with the upswing in supply.
In 2004, the auction enjoyed across-the-board success. Its gross revenue soared 36.9% from 2003 to its second-highest level ever of $38,620,000. The average increased 22.8% to establish a sale record of $114,260 for the 338 horses sold. The median rose 19.4% to $80,000, its highest level since The Blood-Horse
began calculating the figure in the mid-1980s. The buy-back rate fell from 28.7% in 2003 to 25.2% in 2004.
Those upbeat results, no doubt, proved to be a lure to consignors this year. In addition, the sluggish performance of Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga select sale in 2004's record-setting yearling market may also have convinced some sellers to offer some of their horses in Kentucky in July instead.
Monday's opening session begins at 10 a.m. (EDT) and will include the more than 300 yearlings entered in the New Sire Showcase, which features the progeny of young stallions. Tuesday's session starts at the same time.
The bulk of the catalog is made up of yearlings with middle market pedigrees. Fasig-Tipton officials seek physically precocious, athletic-looking horses in their selection process, and sometimes their choices generate financial fireworks. Last year's top price was $950,000 and four horses sold for $500,000 or more.
One concern at this year's sale will be the buying attitude of yearling-to-juvenile pinhookers, who traditionally make a big contribution to the sale's business. However, their role could be reduced because many experienced declining profits earlier this year when the growth in the market for 2-year-olds in training slowed down. The timing was bad for pinhookers, who had spent record amounts of money for their select sale stock.