09/30/2016 11:26AM

Buyer interest high for Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale


The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale enters its 2016 renewal with plenty of wind at its back.

The auction comes as the local Maryland-bred program is on the upswing, and graduates have been flying the banner with big wins on the track and some high-return pinhooks.

Paget Bennett, Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic sales director, said it all adds up to more buyers making the Timonium, Md., auction a circled date on their calendars. The auction will take place Tuesday at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.

“You always have high hopes for all of our sales, but just based on our graduates and what they have done at the races, I think it has gotten a lot of people excited,” Bennett said. “Some of our graduates went on and were very successful for their pinhookers at 2-year-old sales this year. It just kind of got everyone’s heads turning and saying, ‘Maryland might have to be on my schedule this year.’ ”

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This year’s catalog comprises 367 horses, down 10 percent from last year’s group of 410.

The Midlantic sale has produced some notable alumni on the 2016 stakes calendar who were secured at relative bargain prices, led by Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia, a Street Boss filly purchased by Charles Zacney of Cash Is King for $30,000 at the 2014 sale.

Last year’s 3-year-old filly champion Stellar Wind, runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, was an $86,000 purchase by Barbara Houck in 2013. Bradester, winner of this year’s Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, was bought as a $20,000 pinhook prospect by Cary Frommer at the 2011 sale.

Bennett also pointed out a pair of highly successful juvenile pinhooks to have come out of last year’s sale – a $90,000 Uncle Mo colt who sold for $1 million at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of selected 2-year-olds in training and a $35,000 Friesan Fire colt who brought $825,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale.

The Midlantic sale is the primary local auction outlet for yearlings bred in Maryland and surrounding states, many of which offer some form of supplemental funding to their purses and breeding programs.

Maryland-breds make up the largest share of the 2016 catalog, accounting for 43 percent of the horses on offer. Pennsylvania-breds make up 16 percent of the catalog, and New York-breds fill 11 percent. Kentucky-breds are the second-most populous group at 20 percent.

“The Maryland program has just taken off,” Bennett said. “They just are doing so much to improve the racing and getting breeders back and being excited about having a Maryland-bred again and getting them rewarded for their horses. We have a lot of special Maryland-breds in this catalog.”

Other statebred programs represented in the catalog include Alabama, Florida, New Jersey, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Scott Mallory, a Kentucky-based consignor, said horsemen in the region shop the sale for horses that fit their local bonus program.

“We’ve had a lot of success there in the past,” Mallory said. “A lot of the trainers from Charles Town, Mountaineer, Parx, they don’t travel out [to Kentucky], and a lot of the middle-market buyers can buy horses from their region and run them in their restricted races, so I think that appeals to a lot of those trainers that don’t buy many a year.”

Varied returns at regional sales earlier this year gave Mallory pause about how the auction might play out, but a strong performance in the middle-market sessions of the Keeneland September yearling sale has bolstered his confidence.

“I’m optimistic after this sale,” he said in the waning days of Keeneland September. “This sale’s been very strong, especially Book 4, and a lot of the horses there would fit in Book 4. I think it’ll be okay.”

Last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale saw 274 yearlings change hands for revenues of $5,228,800, down 13 percent from the 2014 renewal.

The average sale price also saw a 13 percent drop to $19,083, while the median went unchanged at $10,000. The buyback rate finished at 25 percent, improving from 28 percent the previous year.

Ellen Charles bought the sale-topper, a $200,000 Malibu Moon filly out of the Grade 2-placed, multiple-stakes-winning Lion Hearted mare Aspenglow. The filly, later named Shimmering Aspen, has won one of two starts, both at Laurel Park, and is trained by Rodney Jenkins.