Representatives of the major equine sales companies are familiar figures on the backstretches of North American racetracks, especially during big events like the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
They are not there solely to absorb the ambience associated with Thoroughbred racing, but rather are there to follow their sale graduates and to recruit new stock for their auctions.
The results of such efforts have been in ample evidence in recent years at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November mixed sale, which kicked off the fall sale season Nov. 4 with a sale that company executive vice president and chief operating officer Boyd Browning labeled “fantastic.”
FTK reported a 29% increase in average price to $486,318 when compared with the sale last year. This year’s top price of $5.75 million for the recently retired filly Round Pond was the highest for an FTK fall sale since 1985 when Miss Oceana was sold for $7 million as part of the Newstead Farm dispersal.
Round Pond and the filly Octave, who brought the sale’s second-highest price of $4 million are typical of the types of horses that Fasig-Tipton Kentucky works hard to recruit. Round Pond won or placed in 12 of her 13 career starts, including a victory in the 2006 Breeders. Cup Distaff (gr. I). An earner of $1.66 million who had two grade I wins this year, Octave was whisked off the track at Monmouth Park where she finished third in the Oct. 27 Emirates Airlines Distaff and straight to the sale.
To underscore the degree to which Fasig-Tipton Kentucky will accommodate fillies just off the track, Octave was added to the sale last Monday, Oct. 29.
Browning is understated in explaining how the sale company does it. “We work hard,” he says, when asked about the company’s aggressive recruiting efforts. “This is not very complicated.”
It is to their benefit that it is finding the type horses in demand among the world’s leading buyers. Long-time observers of Fasig-Tipton Kentucky auctions could not recall any sale in which there were so many major players in attendance as there were Nov. 4. The two top-priced fillies were purchased by agent John Ferguson, on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed.
“They like young, successful racemares,” Browning said.
While Fasig-Tipton continues to be second to Keeneland in terms of annual auction revenues, the success seen Nov. 4 is nothing new for the auction company that most refer to as that “sales company on the other side of town.”
“This is not unusual,” said Mark Taylor, whose family’s Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned the sale toppers. “They have established this sale.”
Browning was not even overly euphoric about the Nov. 4 results. “I think we have a comparable market to last year.”
With the ice broken on the fall sales market, the scene now turns to the marathon Keeneland sale, with every indication the trends seen at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky will continue.