Fasig-Tipton’s July select yearling sale ended with a bang instead of a whimper in Lexington, getting a boost from the progeny of the hot stallion Medaglia d'Oro . Even though the key business figures were down from the previous year, the final day produced the auction’s highest price and results that were stronger than the opening day’s statistics.
“I've seen none of our consignors dashing down Newtown Pike right now saying, ‘Hurray, hurray, hurray! It was the greatest sale of my life,’ ” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning following the last session’s conclusion on July 21. “But I think most of them are driving out of here saying, ‘Phew, it wasn’t easy, but the market is alive and reasonably well.”
The 268 horses that sold during the auction’s two-day run grossed $20,828,000 and averaged $77,716. The median price was $55,000. Compared to 2008, when 305 yearlings were sold, the gross declined 26% from $28,151,000. The average fell 15.8% from $92,298, and the median dropped 26.7% from $75,000. Many people had predicted before the sale that the statistics would be down 20% or more.
The buy-back rate declined from 38.8% last year to 36.8% this year.
“Where we’re really seeing the impact on the economy is at the lower end of the market, not the upper end of the market,” Browning said. “Once you got to the $50,000 level and on up, the market was very good and very similar to 2008.”
During the second session, the 132 horses that sold grossed $11,499,500 and averaged $87,117. The median was $63,500. The gross declined 22.5% from $14,840,000 (for the 163 horses that sold) while the average fell only 4.3% from $91,043. The median was down 15.3% from $75,000. During this year’s opening session, the gross ($9,328,500) and median ($45,000) plunged 29.9% and 40%, respectively, while the average ($68,592) for the 136 horses that sold dropped 26.8% after the statistics that were reported originally were revised by Fasig-Tipton, which includes private sales in its auction results.
Most of the yearlings offered on the first day were by first- and second-crop sires while the second session featured the offspring of veteran stallions. The final day’s statistical performance was better because buyers, in this time of economic uncertainty, are gravitating more toward young horses by proven sires, according to Fasig-Tipton officials and consignors.
Two elegant Medaglia d’Oro fillies in the consignment of Kitty Taylor’s Warrendale Sales were the second session’s stars. The top seller for both the day and the auction brought $425,000 from Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager John Ferguson. Twin Creeks Racing purchased the other one for $370,000.
Ferguson had plenty of competition for the $425,000 filly, fighting off challenges from pinhookers Randy Hartley, Murray Smith, and Ciaran Dunne and Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan. Among Moynihan’s clients are Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables, which races Medaglia d’Oro’s talented Preakness Stakes (gr. I)-winning daughter Rachel Alexandra in partnership with Harold McCormick.
Sheikh Mohammed bought the majority interest in Medaglia d’Oro earlier this year and will stand him at his Darley operation near Lexington in 2010.
“She’s a beautiful filly,” said Ferguson of the $425,000 bay yearling, which was the third horse to pass through the sale ring during the final session. “We own the half-sister, Bastakiya, who was a very talented 2-year-old and unfortunately injured herself, so we know the mare can breed a good one. Obviously, I think it’s quite well known that we have a strong opinion of Medaglia d’Oro, just like everybody else. It’s a good pedigree, a good page (in the sale catalog), a good filly, and a good sire – exciting stuff. We’ll decide in September whether she races in Europe or the United States.”
The filly is out of the 13-year-old Careafolie mare Ting a Folie, who was a group II winner in Argentina and is a full sister to Argentine group I winner Campesino. Bastakiya won once and finished third in the E.B.F. National Stud Fillies’ Stakes while carrying the colors of Princess Haya of Jordan, who is married to Sheikh Mohammed.
Warrendale consigned the filly for David and Ann Hanley’s Whitechurch Farm in Central Kentucky. B. M. Kelley bred the yearling in Kentucky.
“That was good, but not surprising; she has a great walk,” Taylor said. “John Moynihan just told me that she had Rachel Alexandra’s face, shoulder, and neck, and that was kind of interesting. She was prepped beautifully, and it all came together.”
The Hanleys, in the Whitechurch name, purchased the filly earlier this year for $85,000 from Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services, agent, at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale.
“When we bought her in January, she was a beautiful filly,” David Hanley said. “Three steps out of the stall, I thought, ‘Man, what’s this coming out here.’ We bought her with this sale in mind. She was a mature type of filly, and we loved her all along. She’s been star right on through, and Medaglia d’Oro just got hotter, so we’ve been dead lucky that he’s turned out the way he has. We are delighted. Considering how tough it is (economically), to have it work out now is better than if it had happened in a good year.”
The Hanleys, through Warrendale, also sold last year’s Fasig-Tipton July sale topper, an Exchange Rate filly that brought $375,000 from Zayat Stables. The filly then was known as Wicked Exchange, but her name was changed later to Ash Zee.
Twin Creeks racing manager Randy Gullatt signed the sale ticket for the $370,000 Medaglia d’Oro filly, which is out of the unraced Gilded Time mare Peridot, who died of colic last November at the age of 9 and was a full sister to grade II winner Elaborate.
Steve Davison of Louisiana is the Twin Creeks principal. Twin Creeks, which has approximately 16 partnership horses in training, uses conditioners Todd Pletcher and Mike Maker.
“We have a racing partnership that has bought yearlings for a couple of years, and she’s going to be in our next partnership,” Gullatt said. “She’s going to race wherever we feel like she fits. She’s a standout Medaglia d’Oro yearling, and I thought she was the best physical in the sale. I actually thought she would bring more money. She has so much class, a great body, great size, and great stretch. She had everything that we were looking for.”
Bert Welker, who works for Warrendale as a bloodstock associate, bred the $370,000 Medaglia d’Oro filly in Kentucky. Welker formerly was the general manager of Richard and Audrey Haisfield’s Stonewall Farm Stallions, where Medaglia d’Oro last stood prior to the deal with Sheikh Mohammed. Welker said he bred the dark bay or brown filly using a free season given to him by Richard Haisfield.
“This was a gift from Mr. Haisfield,” Welker said. “I’m very, very pleased, and I’m thankful. I got a beautiful filly, and how can you not be happy with $370,000?”
According to Welker, his Medaglia d’Oro filly, who is a half-sister to the winners Cherokee Time (by Yonaguska) and Morethanafantasy (by More Than Ready ), was about a hand taller than the $425,000 sale topper.
“You could see Medaglia in both of them,” Welker said. “The other filly wasn’t as big a filly, but she had the presence and had the walk. Pedigree-wise, the mare of the other filly was a proven mare (with a stakes-placed runner) and my mare wasn’t a proven mare, so the other filly deserved to sell better. I’m happy for the owners of that other filly. It was pretty special. It absolutely wasn’t a competition. I’m as happy for them as I am for myself. They had to sweat it out just like I did. It’s all good.”