07/11/2013 1:04PM

Buyers, sellers expecting positive trends to carry into Fasig-Tipton July sale


When Fasig-Tipton Kentucky’s July select yearling sale begins at Newtown Paddocks in Lexington on Monday, consignors and buyers will be looking for sale figures to rise from the 2012 levels that they felt were generally healthy. And while many are expecting buyers to remain highly selective, the broad feeling among sale participants is that decreased supply, plus rising confidence, will lift the tide for many select yearling consignors.

“That selectivity is fair enough, and I think we accept that’s part of the business,” said Headley Bell of Mill Ridge Sales, which has consigned eight yearlings to the July sale. “You’re hoping for that one which will carry the others, and you’re hoping you have enough depth to be able to do it. We’re not yet into a rising tide that’s [lifting] all boats, by any means, but we’re floating along, and that’s better than sinking. I like our spot.”

That spot, for select yearling sales overall, generally was on higher ground last year than in 2011, thanks in good measure to the ongoing drop in Thoroughbred foal-crop size. That helped bring supply and demand into tighter alignment, and many sale participants cited that and a growing sense of financial stability as reasons the sale will see improved auction figures.

Select yearling auctions in 2012 generally posted averages and medians that were either level with the previous year or up, sometimes by double digits; so did several important regional sales. The Fasig-Tipton July sale’s median, $60,000, was the same as in 2011. But the auction’s average climbed 16 percent, despite a 12 percent increase in catalog size.

This year’s catalog is 24 percent thinner, with 258 yearlings in it, compared with the 338 yearlings who were in the catalog  last season – another reason supply and demand could spark gains on last season’s July performance.

Yearling sellers’ optimism got a boost from this spring’s lively 2-year-old sale returns. The pinhookers who buy yearlings to resell at juvenile auctions often faced feast-or-famine conditions at the select 2-year-old markets, but some of those who survived the gauntlet likely will be back at the yearling sales with more money to spend.

The four major select juvenile sales – Barretts March, Fasig-Tipton Florida, Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March, and Keeneland April – all posted double-digit increases in average and median. The OBS March sale even set records for average ($155,643) and median ($125,000) and equaled a sale record for its top price of $1.8 million for a Smart Strike–Mini Sermon colt.

The OBS April sale, offering a much larger catalog than any of the small, boutique auctions, also set records across the board. Its average soared by 38 percent to $59,974, and the $35,000 median was up 30 percent from last season.

The upward trend continued into Triple Crown season and the early summer: Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic auction rose across the board, with the average ($66,968) and median ($40,000) up by 25 percent and 43 percent. And OBS had another strong showing at its June sale, ringing up a sale-record $525,000 Pioneerof the Nile—Early Vintage colt and records for gross ($14,989,200), average ($33,836), and median ($20,000).

Numerous scratches and higher buyback rates dimmed the outlook at a number of the juvenile sales, indicating buyers’ very careful selectivity. That means pinhookers are likely to be selective, too, when they come calling at the yearling sale barns. In fact, some of the select juvenile market’s characteristics certainly will be on display in the yearling market, too, where many of the end-user buyers, and their racing goals, are the same.

“There’s still demand at the top of the market for what are perceived as the elite offerings that instill competition among the more prominent racing stables to feature in graded stakes, the classics, and the Breeders’ Cup races,” yearling-to-juvenile reseller Nick de Meric said of the juvenile market. He could just as well have been referring to the yearling market.

The juvenile sales saw another trend that should help bolster pinhookers’ bidding at the yearling sales: a deep market of buyers at larger 2-year-old auctions. That helped spread money around even at open sales and put more money in pinhookers’ pockets. That factor could be felt at Fasig-Tipton July, which traditionally draws a strong base of pinhookers and domestic end-user owners.

“I think it’s definitely going to reinvigorate the yearling market to a greater or lesser extent,” de Meric said of the pinhookers’ 2013 successes. “We know we have whatever percentage impact on the yearling market, and it will be reinforced, for sure, after this year’s 2-year-old results. I also think we’ll have the combined effect of pricing each other out of the market for horses that we would like to have. Only one person is going to sign that ticket, and very often, it’s going to be an end-user. So, it’s going to be competitive for those horses we all tend to land on.

“What’s going to define success for pinhookers at next year’s 2-year-old sales is the ability to find the rough diamond, to use the old cliché: the slightly less obvious individual that can be bought right and then sold accordingly. But I’m quite sure the recent 2-year-old results are going to have a positive impact on the yearling market overall. And that’s good for everybody because we’re all in the same boat at the end of the day, and none of us want to see it sink.”

Some of the pinhookers’ competitors for those horses – buyers who plan to race their purchases – also are feeling fairly bullish. Terry Finley, who heads up West Point Thoroughbreds, said his public partnership and syndication business is seeing new interest and investors.

“By the end of the yearling season, we will have bought probably more than we’ve ever bought at the yearling sales,” Finley said. “Yes, the prices probably are going to be firmer or go up. The economics of the game, especially at the top, have strengthened, but they’re still very difficult. It still costs a lot of money to get a yearling to the races, then [there are] the ongoing costs. Purses are better, but it’s still a tough economic model. I know that has to work into people’s minds as they’re appraising yearlings they’re looking to buy.”

Finley said new investors have given him ammunition for the yearling sales, and reason for optimism. “We’ve done a fairly good job attracting people, and our business has been very, very firm,” he said. “The demand is there. I see a lot of people who are really intrigued by the business and, for one reason or another, they’re at a place in their lives where they’re able to [participate].”

Fasig-Tipton officials hope this year’s July yearling sale might also benefit from a new feature: a smaller auction of racing-age horses that will take place the same day, immediately after the yearling session. Bell, whose Mill Ridge agency also is consigning some racing-age horses at Fasig-Tipton, believes there could be some cross-pollination between the yearling and racing-age markets via the trainers and owners on the sales grounds.

West Point’s Finley is one potential example. “We’re going to look [at the racing-age horses],” Finley said. “I’m going to be there looking at those horses because people who might not be as open-minded as we are might overlook those horses. You never know the circumstances of why someone wants to sell a horse, and this could be a perfect venue to pick up some ready-made horses, which we’ve done in the last year and a half. It’s helped our business, and we’ve really had some luck buying horses off the racetrack.”

With both pinhookers and some key end users feeling positive, Fasig-Tipton’s July auction could start off the yearling season strongly. But Finley, like other buyers, also will be trying to leaven exuberance with rationality.

“If you’re in the market, you know that a good number of the pinhookers did really, really well this past year at the 2-year-old sales, so logic would have it that they’re going to be at the yearling sales with guns ablazing,” Finley said. “They need inventory, we need inventory, and the sellers need to sell, so it’s a perfect situation in that respect. The key is you just can’t get too hyped up about any one particular horse. If there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, you have to be careful about that because you know there are a lot more yearlings after this sale.”

First-year sires of yearlings at 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale

Stallion YOB, Pedigree 2013 location  2013 stud fee   2011 stud fee  No. cataloged FTK July
Blame 2006, Arch--Liable, by Seeking the Gold Claiborne Farm (Ky.)  $30,000  $35,000 1
Desert Party 2006, Street Cry--Sage Cat, by Tabasco Cat Sequel Stallions New York (N.Y.)  $7,500  $10,000 9
Discreetly Mine 2007, Mineshaft--Pretty Discreet, by Private Account Lane's End (Ky.)  $15,000  $15,000 9
Eskendereya 2007, Giant's Causeway--Aldebaran Light, by Seattle Slew Taylor Made Stallions (Ky.)  $17,500  $30,000 1
Hold Me Back  2006, Giant's Causeway--Restraint, by Unbridled's Song WinStar Farm (Ky.)  $6,000  $6,000 5
Kantharos 2008, Lion Heart--Contessa Halo, by Southern Halo Ocala Stud Farm (Fla.)  $5,000  $5,000 1
Line of David 2007, Lion Heart--Emma's Dilemma, by Capote Spendthrift Farm (Ky.)  $7,500  $7,500 5
Lookin At Lucky 2007, Smart Strike--Private Feeling, by Belong to Me Ashford Stud (Ky.)  $25,000  $35,000 1
Majesticperfection 2006, Harlan's Holiday--Act So Noble, by Wavering Monarch Airdrie Stud (Ky.)  $8,500  $10,000 7
Midshipman 2006, Unbridled's Song--Fleet Lady, by Avenue of Flags Darley (Ky.)  $10,000  $15,000 3
Munnings 2006, Speightstown--La Comete, by Holy Bull Ashford Stud (Ky.)  $10,000  $12,500 5
Quality Road 2006, Elusive Quality--Kobla, by Strawberry Road Lane's End (Ky.)  $25,000  $35,000 6
Summer Bird 2006, Birdstone--Hong Kong Squall, by Summer Squall Shizunai Stallion Station (Japan)  Private   $15,000 6
Super Saver 2007, Maria's Mon--Supercharger, by A.P. Indy WinStar Farm (Ky.)  $20,000  $20,000 5
Tale of Ekati 2005, Tale of the Cat--Silence Beauty, by Sunday Silence Darby Dan Farm (Ky.)  $15,000  $15,000 4
Temple City 2005, Dynaformer--Curriculum, by Danzig Spendthrift Farm (Ky.)  $5,000  $5,000 2
Tizdejavu 2005, Tiznow--Remember When, by Dixie Brass Crestwood Farm (Ky.)  $5,000  $5,000 1
Warrior's Reward 2006, Medaglia d'Oro--For All You Do, by Seeking the Gold Spendthrift Farm (Ky.)  $8,000  $15,000 8


Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale results, 2003-2012  

Year No. sold No. offered  Total   Average   Median   Highest price 
2012 189 283 $15,364,000 $81,291 $60,000 $375,000
2011 191 261 $13,349,000 $69,890 $60,000 $310,000
2010 243 341 $18,414,500 $75,780 $50,000 $450,000
2009 268 424 $20,828,000 $77,716 $55,000 $425,000
2008 305 498 $28,151,000 $92,298 $75,000 $375,000
2007 354 521 $36,441,000 $102,941 $80,000 $450,000
2006 307 407 $35,598,000 $115,954 $90,000 $1,200,000
2005 368 601 $37,106,000 $100,832 $75,000 $650,000
2004 338 452 $38,620,000 $114,260 $80,000 $950,000
2003 303 425 $28,202,000 $93,076 $67,000 $800,000

Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale and summer select horses of racing age sale

When: July 15, 2013, 10 a.m. Eastern
Where: Newtown Paddocks, 2400 Newtown Pike, Lexington, Ky. 40511
Phone: (859) 255-1555
Catalog: 258 horses, down 23.7 percent from 338 last year
Recent history: The 2012 sale posted overall positive results while selling 189 horses for $15,364,000, an average price of $81,291, and a median of $60,000. Gross increased 15.1 percent, average rose by 16.3 percent, and median was level with 2012. Ken McPeek, agent for Magic City Thoroughbred Partners, bought a Malibu Moon colt out of Uncontrollable, consigned by CandyLand Farm, agent, for $375,000 to top the sale. The colt was later named Moon Gun.
Internet: Live streaming at www.fasigtipton.com