05/23/2017 5:21PM

$1.5 million Curlin colt tops strong Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale


TIMONIUM, Md. - For the third year in a row, the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training was led by a seven-figure offering – this time a sales-record-priced $1.5-million Curlin colt – as it posted across-the-board gains and continued to establish itself as a destination event for the market. 

A total of 329 horses sold over the two days at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Md., for gross receipts of $25,205,000, according to figures reported by Fasig-Tipton as of 20 minutes after the close of business. The gross marked a gain of 8.9 percent from 2016, when a total of 337 horses sold for $23,136,400. The average price, $76,611, was up 11.6 percent from the average of $68,654 last year. The median price rose 9.4 percent, to $35,000 from $32,000.

“We had a legitimate group of top-quality horses, and a legitimate group of horses basically at all price ranges,” Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said. “I think folks left here happy and feeling optimistic whether they were spending $20,000 or $200,000 or $500,000 and upwards. There’s a diverse group of horses that fit a variety of racing operations, from, quote, unquote, regional markets to the finest in the United States that have the ability to compete at the upper end in the U.S. and around the world.”

The buyback rate checked in at 20 percent after finishing at 26 percent last year, and private sales, transactions negotiated back at the barns after horses failed to meet their reserves in the auction ring, were still trickling in Tuesday evening.

"A lot of people don't want to take them back to Florida to go to the [Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s] June sale," Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales director Paget Bennett said. "Somebody comes to the barn and wants to do something, they're going to try to make something happen."

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With the juvenile sales season approaching its end, consignors not only felt that urgency, but buyers found a competitive market.

“I think it’s very strong,” said bloodstock agent Mike Ryan, who purchased eight horses. “The good ones, you’re not stealing them. You've got to step up there. We got beat out on a couple. I thought we bought some nice horses [Monday], but [Tuesday] is even stronger.”

Trainer Mark Casse signed the ticket for the sale-leading $1.5-million Curlin colt, bidding on behalf of John Oxley and Breeze Easy LLC.

"Trying to find a Preakness winner for next year," Casse joked, holding his hands apart to demonstrate the narrow margin he and Oxley’s champion Classic Empire was edged by in last Saturday's classic.

Curlin has established himself as a classic sire, represented from his first four crops by Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator, and two additional classic-placed runners. The colt sold Tuesday shattered the Fasig Midlantic record of $1.25 million, established by a filly by Smart Strike, Curlin’s sire, two years ago.

The colt worked a furlong in 10 seconds during last week’s under-tack preview, making him one of 13 horses to tie for the fastest time at that distance.

"Not many better sires than Curlin," Casse said. "He worked great. When you look at him, you can see he's a runner."

The colt was a successful pinhook for consignors Randy Hartley and Dean DeRenzo, who went to a sale-topping $475,000 to acquire him at last summer’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale. The operation attempted to purchase higher-end yearlings last year, with the business goal of turning them into profitable pinhooks.

“Our business plan that we designed is exactly where we want it to be,” DeRenzo said.

Casse, the underbidder last July, has kept an eye on the colt since that sale. 

"I've watched him train - I was at the farm a few times and watched him go," Casse said. "He's not something that just got on our radar yesterday or the day before. He's been on our radar for some time."

The colt is out of the winning Stormin Fever mare Franscat, dam of stakes winners Swinger's Party and Hubba Shake, as well as Grade 3-placed Powhatan County. It is the extended family of Grade 1 winners Ogygian and Honour and Glory.

A total of six horses sold for more than a half-million at the sale. All but one came Tuesday, helping the second session to massive gains compared to the comparable session in the 2016 edition. Despite fewer horses sold – 167 compared to 180 in 2016 – the second session showed a spike of 10 percent in gross. The session-to-session average soared 18.6 percent, while the median was up 9.4 percent.

The second-highest price at the sale was fetched by a Distorted Humor colt who brought the hammer down at $850,000. Trainer Simon Callaghan signed the ticket, saying he bought the colt for a client.

"He's got a stallion's pedigree," Callaghan said. "Great physical, really well-balanced colt. I thought he ticked all the boxes. There's a lot of good horses come out of this sale, so let's hope this is one of them."

The colt, who was consigned by Eddie Woods, as agent, is out of the multiple-stakes-winning Lemon Drop Kid mare Lemon Kiss, making him a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Lochte. Lemon Kiss is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Kiss the Kid, and it is the immediate family of champion Black Tie Affair.

Later in the day, a Ghostzapper colt whose dam is a full sister to graded stakes winner Kauai Katie and Winding Way sold for $800,000 to bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, on behalf of owners Charles and Susan Chu’s Baoma Corp, who have horses with trainer Bob Baffert.

“There were better horses today, I thought, the second day,” said Lanni, adding that he had been among the underbidders on the sale-topper. “It’s a good indicator for sales to come and the yearling sales to come. There’s a big appetite for good 2-year-olds.”

A pair of colts from the first crop of Kentucky Derby winner Orb drew high prices on Tuesday, with one selling for $710,000 to Dennis O’Neill, as agent for new owner Amr Zedan, and the other selling for $525,000 to trainer Leon Blusiewicz, for C.P. Beler.

A Smart Strike filly led Monday’s opening session, selling for $525,000 to Xavier International Bloodstock, as agent for a partnership.