07/06/2017 8:56AM

‘Depth and quality' mark Fasig-Tipton July horses of racing age sale

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Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
Distinta, winner of the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes, is one of several graded stakes winners in the Fasig-Tipton July selected horses of racing age sale.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Fasig-Tipton July selected horses of racing age sale has drawn a solid group of horses who look poised to help the young auction continue to cement its reputation as a summer destination.

The 112 horses cataloged as of July 2 – the sale reviews and accepts supplemental entries up to the day of the auction – included four graded stakes winners, an additional 11 stakes winners, and a smattering of other stakes performers at levels from Grade 1 events to statebred stakes.

“I think this is the strongest horses of racing age catalog we’ve had from top to bottom in the five years,” Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said. “There may not be a ‘seven-figure’ horse in there right now, but there are a lot of really attractive fillies and colts that can compete in many racing jurisdictions in the United States, and even abroad. I think it’s got more depth and quality than we’ve ever had.”

The horses of racing age sale has grown exponentially in popularity since debuting as a same-day addition to Fasig-Tipton’s July yearling sale in 2013. The event got off to a flying start with seven-figure horses in its first two years of existence, with $1 million Starship Truffles leading the inaugural event, followed by $1.075 million Bedford Land the following year. The sale’s popularity caused it to move to its own day for the fourth edition in 2016.

The quartet of graded winners in this year’s edition, set for the evening of July 10, is led by the consistent Distinta, who is enjoying the best season of her career at age 5. The Summer Bird mare, minor stakes-placed in prior seasons, has been on the board in all her starts of 2017, highlighted by a win in the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes. She also has finished second in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney Stakes and White Pearl Stakes and third in the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie Stakes.

Bitumen and Made You Look were both graded-winning juveniles of 2016 at Saratoga. Bitumen, by rising young sire Quality Road, captured the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes. Made You Look won the Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes on turf; the More Than Ready colt trained on to win the Grade 3 Dania Beach Stakes earlier this year and finished third in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes.

Taylor Made Sales, as agent, consigns the trio of Distinta, Bitumen, and Made You Look. Whiskey Ticket, a Ghostzapper stallion who won the Grade 3 Illinois Derby in 2015, is consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency.

The stakes performers in the catalog also include a pair of Grade 1-placed runners in Closing Bell and Jazzy Times. Closing Bell, by leading sire Tapit, finished second to Highland Reel in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in just his fourth career start, then captured the Dueling Grounds Derby. Overall, he owns four stakes wins or placings. Jazzy Times was third in last year’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship, won by Lord Nelson, and subsequently second in the Damascus Stakes.

WinStar Racing, which has become a major player in racing-age consignments at the November sales, consigns Closing Bell. Jazzy Times is part of the initial 14-horse consignment for Elite Sales, Bradley Weisbord, and Liz Crow’s new venture tailored to selling horses in training and broodmare prospects coming off the racetrack.

The catalog also includes stakes winners Adorable Miss, Aquaphobia, Bronson, Bust Another, Happy Mesa, King Kranz, Lori’s Store, My Miss Tapit, She’s Incredible, and Somethingelse; graded-placed runners Hedge Fund, Rum Go, Tizzarunner, and Zulu; and stakes-placed runners Aquamarine, Inta Erma, Lady Alexandra, My Sweet Stella, Pure Michigan, Totality, Total Tap, and Upper Room.

“I think [recruiting for the sale has] gotten a little easier because people kind of understand what works,” Browning said. “They understand that it’s a very viable marketplace. The first year or two, they go on blind trust. It’s now proven to be a very good place to sell a racehorse, and there’s a very high level of confidence between buyers and sellers as a result of the performance of the last four years, both in the sales ring and subsequently on the racetrack, which is extremely important for the sustainability of the sale.”

The 2016 edition of the racing age sale featured steady activity with moderate prices at the top of the market. Stormy Lucy was the most expensive horse to change hands on the day as a $575,000 private transaction, while the highest-priced horse sold through the ring was $250,000 Best Behavior. The sale finished with 72 horses sold for $5,048,500, an average price of $70,118. The gross and average marked gains of 26.3 percent and 14.1 percent, respectively, from 2015, when 65 horses sold for $3,996,000, an average of $61,477. The median declined 12.5 percent, to $42,000 from $48,000. Lending credence to Browning’s assessment that consignors understand what works in this marketplace, last year’s buyback rate was an improved 20.1 percent, compared to 32.3 percent in 2015.

– additional reporting by Joe Nevills