03/03/2011 5:21PM

Empire Maker filly sells for $1.35 million at Fasig-Tipton's Florida sale

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A filly by recently exported Belmont winner Empire Maker brought the only seven-figure price Thursday at Fasig-Tipton’s Florida select 2-year-old sale.

Sold to Darley Stud owner Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum for $1.35 million, the bay daughter of the Pulpit mare Half A. P. had worked an eighth-mile in 10 seconds at the Monday under-tack show.

Consigning agent Murray Smith pinhooked the bay filly. She paid $435,000 for her at last year’s Saratoga select yearling auction. The filly is bred similarly to former champion juvenile filly and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Halfbridled, who is a daughter of Empire Maker’s sire Unbridled and is a half-sister to the sale filly’s dam, Half A. P.

The auction sold 81 juveniles for $19,832,000, yielding an average price of $244,840 and a $200,000 median. The median remained level with last year’s figure, but gross and average both fell. Average dropped 5 percent, from 2010’s figure of $257,473 to $244,840, while gross was down 15 percent, despite a slightly larger catalog. The 2010 auction sold 91 horses for $23,430,000.

The buyback rate jumped to 43 percent, compared to last year’s 37 percent.

Fasig-Tipton’s one-day juvenile sale kicked off the boutique 2-year-old sale season at a new location, the Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Fla., after 25 years at Calder Race Course.

Juddmonte Farms sold homebred Empire Maker to the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association in November. Empire Maker also sired the Fasig-Tipton sale’s highest-priced colt, Hip No. 186, which sold to Robert and Lawana Low for $750,000. The dark bay or brown colt is out of Henderson Band, making him a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Cash Included. Scanlon Training Center consigned the colt.

Maktoum, represented by bloodstock representative John Ferguson, also paid $750,000 in the auction’s opening hours for Hip No. 64, a full sister to Tempted to Tapit.

The gray or roan Tapit filly worked an eighth-mile in 9.8 seconds at the auction’s under-tack show. The Stephens Thoroughbred agency sent the filly through the Fasig-Tipton auction ring on behalf of Vision Racing and Sales. Vision Racing and Sales paid just $67,000 for the filly last year at the Keeneland September auction.

“When we bought her, she was going through a little bit of an awkward stage,” said Brandon Perry of Vision Racing and Sales, who watched the sale on the Internet from Kentucky. “She was by Tapit, who even back in September was very good property, and he’s improved on that since then. We saw her full brother race, and he ran very good speed figures, so the cross had already worked once before. She was an easy-walking filly, and, to be honest, we thought we’d have to pay more for her.

“We’re ecstatic that she brought three-quarters of a million dollars,” he added. “Great profit, and we’re very pleased with who bought her. Darley has bought a few horses off us before, one of them being Seventh Street, who came on to be a multiple Grade 1 winner. Hopefully, they’ll have the same luck with this filly.”

Darley’s purchases also included a $500,000 Medaglia d’Oro-Bubbling Heights colt consigned by the Niall Brennan agency. The dark bay or brown colt is a half-brother to graded winner J’ray. He had the under-tack show’s fastest eighth-mile turf course work, 9.8 seconds.

Hip No. 136, a Macho Uno son of Champagne Cocktail, came close to that price when he brought $700,000. Buzz Chace, agent, signed the ticket on behalf of West Point Thoroughbreds. The gray or roan colt posted a 10-second work. Crupi’s New Castle Farm was the seller.

Brushwood Stable owner Betty Moran also dipped into the upper market to pick up a $575,000 colt from Hard Spun’s first crop. Cataloged as Hip No. 67 in the Wavertree consignment, the gray or roan colt is out of stakes-placed Princess Patricia. The colt was one of four horses in the sale to clock lightning eighth-mile workout speeds under 10 seconds; he covered that in 9.8 seconds.

The More Than Ready-Spring Unbridled filly that had the preview show’s fastest eighth-mile time of 9.6 seconds sold for $105,000 to Kathleen Amaya; Steve Venosa’s SGV Thoroughbred agency consigned her for seller W. D. North Thoroughbreds.

Darley’s perennial rival, Ireland-based Coolmore Stud, also spent $500,000 during the auction’s first half when agent Demi O’Byrne signed for a Malibu Moon colt out of Trisha Quick. The bay colt worked an eighth in 10 seconds. Venosa’s SGV agency also consigned that one for W. D. North Thoroughbreds.

There was one other $500,000 horse. That was Hip No. 194, a Tiznow colt out of the Mr. Prospector mare Imaginary Gold. Gretchen and Roy Jackson’s Lael Stable purchased him from Ricky Leppala, agent. The bay colt is from the Overbrook Farm family of champion fillies Flanders and Surfside.

Not all high prices resulted in a sale. A Bernardini colt out of Epsom Oaks winner Casual Look went unsold on a hammer price of $775,000. He had appeared to be one of the auction’s choice horses. His dam has produced two winners so far, by Kingmambo and Distorted Humor. And he worked an eighth-mile in 10.8 seconds at the under-tack show, also held at the Palm Meadows facility.

The Scanlon Training Center agency consigned the bay colt, Hip No. 135. Last time he went through a sale ring, the colt sold for $425,000 to Robert LaPenta’s Whitehorse Stable. LaPenta frequently pinhooks juveniles to the select 2-year-old sales and opts to race them if they don’t meet his reserve prices.