03/04/2011 3:52PM

Fasig-Tipon Florida sale draws more observers than active buyers


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Fasig-Tipton’s Florida sale drew good reviews for its new location, the Palm Meadows Training Center, but mixed financial results at Thursday’s auction proved the market for 2-year-olds could still be tough sledding.

Consignor Steve Venosa of SGV Thoroughbreds agency consigned six juveniles to the auction and sold all of them in the ring, including a $500,000 Malibu Moon-Trisha Quick colt that Coolmore Stud bought. He counted himself among the auction’s luckiest consignors, because he had no buybacks. But, like many sellers, he was disappointed that healthy crowds at the under-tack show and the sale didn’t translate into more bids.

“There were more people at the breeze show than I can ever remember seeing, there was action during the week at the barns, and everybody collectively felt the same thing, that there were a lot of people inspecting horses,” Venosa said. “Heading into the sale, it was very encouraging. Unfortunately, it seemed like a lot of people weren’t purchasing horses. We were pleased with our horses because we got them all sold. But it seems like, right now, people are getting extremely selective about the horses they’re buying. The high end is always going to be there, but it seems like everyone else is putting a price on these horses and they’re not budging from what they’ve budgeted.”

Pre-sale optimism met up with a more sober reality at the sale in Boynton Beach, Fla. Gross sales on a 3-percent larger catalog fell 15 percent – a figure that undoubtedly was affected partly by the difference in the sale-topping price. Last year’s sale-topper brought $2.3 million, as compared with $1.35 million for this year’s Empire maker-Half A. P. filly. Darley Stud bought both sale-toppers. Average price also dropped, by 5 percent, to $244,840. Especially disappointing to sale officials and consignors was the buyback rate. That number climbed sharply from 37 percent in 2010 to 43 percent on Thursday. Still, the good news was quite good: The median price was $200,000, the same as the median price last year, when median soared upward by 33 percent and gross jumped by 9 percent.

Fasig-Tipton chief executive officer Boyd Browning called the auction “a normal 2-year-old sale” with the kinds of highly selective buying habits sellers have come to expect. But he expressed surprise at the buyback rate.

“The buyers were selective. On the horses that they liked, there was tremendous bidding activity,” Browning said. “We just wish they’d been spread out on a few more horses and not all lined up on similar horses.

“I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but the market is still very selective and is likely to continue to be so,” he added.