07/11/2017 7:29PM

$1 million filly puts F-T July yearling sale over the top

Fasig-Tipton photo
A Medaglia d'Oro filly out of Hung the Moon was the only seven-figure seller at the Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale Tuesday.

The Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale was carrying on at an even pace with last year’s renewal on Tuesday until a $1 million Medaglia d’Oro filly sold in the waning hips to singlehandedly ensure figures across the board would show comfortable gains.

Tuesday’s auction, which kicked off the yearling sales season, saw 172 yearlings change hands for revenues of $16,107,000, marking a 2 percent improvement from last year, when 183 horses brought $15,756,500.

The average sale price rose 9 percent to $93,645 from $86,101, while the median price grew 8 percent to $70,000 from $65,000. The buyback rate closed at 30 percent compared with 38 percent in 2016.

Tuesday’s upper market saw three horses sold for $300,000 or more, trailing the four to do so last year. The number of six-figure purchases rose to 55 from 54.

“You’re always are thrilled to have a horse break out and get through the glass ceiling like the million-dollar filly did today,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “It just demonstrates the strength of the market. If you put good horses in front of quality buyers, anything can happen. You could see the magic beginning when all the doors started opening two or three hips before, and you see people filing in pretty serious numbers.”

While the seven-figure horse was the unquestionable highlight of the sale, Browning said the market at large showed promise for the overall well-being of the yearling auction economy.

“The market’s good, but there’s still some discipline,” he said. “It’s not runaway, it’s not overly heated. There’s still some selectivity in the marketplace, as we’ve seen in recent years, so you’d better have a pretty good feel for the quality of horse that you’ve got. It’s a healthy market, and it sure bodes well for the rest of the yearling sales that are coming this year.”

The beginning of the sale was delayed by an hour from its scheduled 10 a.m. Eastern start time after ill-timed construction on Newtown Pike made entry and exit onto the Fasig-Tipton property difficult. Construction and a pair of nearby car accidents pushed back the start of Monday’s July select horses of racing age sale by a half-hour.

Larry Best of OXO Equine bid on just one horse on Tuesday, and it was the $1 million Medaglia d’Oro filly, making her the most expensive Fasig-Tipton July yearling since 2006, when the Forestry colt Participate sold to Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum for $1.2 million. Participate never raced.

She tied for the most expensive filly ever offered at the sale, joining Al Bayan, a Northern Dancer filly who sold to H.T. Jones for $1 million in 1982 and was sent to England, where she became a stakes-placed runner.

Tuesday’s sale-topper is the first foal out of the stakes-winning Malibu Moon mare Hung the Moon, and hails from the family of Grade 2 winner Bay to Bay and Grade 3 winner Whimsy.

“I just try to review as many horses as I can, and if one strikes me as special, I consider it seriously,” Best said. “I like fillies, I love Medaglia d'Oro, and just found this was the only horse I was interested in here, simple as that. It's a long way to go before she'll run, so don't give me any credit.”

Best said the filly would be sent to central Florida-based Eddie Woods to begin her training. The owner currently has horses with trainers Chad Brown and Jerry Hollendorfer.

Best, a Boston native and chairman of an investment firm geared toward life sciences and medical devices, made his first purchases at last year’s Keeneland September yearling sale, but started buying at a high level at this year’s Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream select sale of 2-year-olds in training. He bought a pair of seven-figure horses that day, and continued swing big at later sales.

“I just pick the horse that I want to own,” Best said about his buying methods. “The market determines the value of it, as you saw today. I didn't determine the market. It was the horse I was most interested in, it was in a range, obviously higher in the range, that I wanted to pay.

“I'm building a portfolio for a 10-year ride, and I don't count chips for a long, long time,” he continued. “I hope to have a return on my investments here, but it's like business, it takes seven to 10 years for you to determine whether you've done well or not.”

The filly was bred in Kentucky by Southern Equine Stables, which purchased Hung the Moon with Tuesday’s sale-topper in-utero for $280,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Bluewater Sales signed the ticket on the mare as agent, and consigned her filly at the July sale.

“My highest hopes were not even close to that price,” said Meg Levy of Bluewater Sales. “We brought her in here thinking her sire power and precocious, athletic physical would make her a standout here. Being the first yearling sale of the year, I thought she might bring $600,000 or so if we had the right folks but that was beyond my wildest expectations for sure.”

For complete sale results, click here.