07/12/2011 8:58PM

Fasig-Tipton: $310,000 Harlan's Holiday colt tops solid but selective yearling sale

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Hip No. 168, a Harlan's Holiday colt, sold to Barbara Banke and George Bolton for $310,000.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The select yearling auction season opened Tuesday with Fasig-Tipton’s July sale in Lexington, where the sale-topper was a $310,000 Harlan’s Holiday colt bought by the late Jess Jackson’s widow, Barbara Banke, and George Bolton, Stonestreet’s former partner in Horse of the Year Curlin. Bolton also races Astrology in partnership with Banke.

FASIG-TIPTON JULY: Updates from throughout the sale »

The select yearling portion of the day ended with 191 yearlings sold for $13,349,000. That’s down 26 percent from last year’s gross for a larger two-day auction that sold 243 yearlings. The 2011 average is $69,890, 8 percent lower than last year’s figure of $75,780. But median improved from last year, rising 20 percent from $50,000 last year to $60,000 on Tuesday. Buybacks were 27 percent, down slightly from last year’s 29 percent.

In addition to buying the yearling sale’s top-priced horse, Banke also purchased a $220,000 Dehere-Marialua filly, signaling her intent to carry on the Stonestreet Stables racing and breeding operation.

“She’s going to carry on just like him,” said Stonestreet’s bloodstock agent, John Moynihan, who outbid Darley Stud agent John Ferguson for the colt. “She’s really enthusiastic about it and loves it as much as he did. The game plan doesn’t change. She’s trying to buy horses that are going to win the kind of races you’d want to run in. We’re looking for good classic horses.”

The bay Harlan’s Holiday colt is the first foal out of stakes-placed Acrosstheborder, by Include. Crossroads Sales, agent, was the consignor. Banke’s other purchase, the Dehere filly, is out of a Maria’s Mon mare and hailed from Dapple Stud’s consignment. Twin Hopes Farm and Helen T. Andrews were the sellers.

It was a banner day for several sires, including Harlan’s Holiday and Tapit. Harlan’s Holiday, a WinStar Farm stallion, also was the sire of a $225,000 colt out of Shiny Band that EQB, agent, bought from the Gainesway agency. Gainesway, which stands Tapit, also sold a $300,000 daughter of Tapit and Easily bought by Winchell Thoroughbreds. Tapit also was the sire of a $200,000 colt out of Shadow of Storm that Earle Mack purchased from the Eaton Sales agency.

Lane’s End stallion Lemon Drop Kid also had two yearlings above the $200,000 threshold, and both sold to Gary and Mary West. They were a $230,000 colt out of Wow Me Free consigned by Warrendale Sales, agent, and a $210,000 colt out of Field of Dreams that Dromoland Farm consigned as agent.

Also bringing more than $200,000 was a Flashy Bull-The Wrong Face colt that the Inside Move pinhooking operation bought from Cardinal Venture.

As expected, buyers showed they were still in a selective mood, looking not just for athletes, but athletes with some black-type pedigree behind them. Those could be relatively costly.

“I was really right at my limit,” EQB’s Miller said after signing the ticket for the Harlan’s Holiday colt. “We would rather have gotten him for $150,000, but he was a nice horse, a Louisiana-bred.

“There are really just a few we’re interested in. It’s a very good sale, though, I think, for a pinhooker. I saw a lot of horses that were good individuals and new pedigrees, and there’s a lot of opportunity, especially for a guy who’s going to resell, to make a pedigree,” added Miller, who generally represents end-user racehorse owners, not resellers. “But we’re looking for horses that would be difficult to buy as a 2-year-old.”

Pinhookers, too, sometimes felt compelled to step up their spending. Bethe Deal, owner of the Texas-based Inside Move resale operation, said she was putting more eggs in fewer, but better-conformed, baskets this year when buying yearlings. Deal winnowed the catalog’s 300 yearlings down to a list of 13. One of those was a Flashy Bull colt out of The Wrong Face, by Marlin, that Deal bought from Cardinal Venture (Keith Lancaster, agent) for $200,000. She hopes to resell him at one of Florida’s boutique juvenile sales next spring.

“I thought he was a man among boys out here,” Deal said of the colt, who is from Flashy Bull’s second crop. “He’s extremely correct and clean. We had a lot we liked that didn’t vet. He looks athletic and powerful, and I thought he was an amazing specimen. Some years, when things are better, I think that’s a $300,000 colt.

“This is a step-up year,” she added. “The way the market is, you have to have the horses that you know those people have to come look at.”

The session provided some good news for first-crop sires. Once kings of the yearling auction ring, first-crop stallions became much less fashionable after the general economic meltdown took the bloodstock market with it; buyers and breeders fled to proven stallions. Proven sires dominated the highest prices, but early results at the July sale suggested first-crop horses still have a willing audience. Midnight Lute, Tiz Wonderful, Into Mischief, Big Brown, Majestic Warrior, and Street Hero all had six-figure yearlings.

Rosilyn Polan’s one-horse Sunday Morning Thoroughbreds consignment scored a home run with one of those first-crop yearlings. That was a bay filly by first-crop sire Tiz Wonderful, who stood for a $12,500 advertised fee in 2009, when this filly was conceived. On Tuesday, the filly brought $130,000 from Bob Feld, bidding on behalf of Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Farm. Polan’s filly is out of the Slew o’ Gold mare No More Ironing, making him a half-brother to Kentucky Oaks third Sneaky Quiet, now the dam of Grade 3-placed Hidden Truth.

Although Polan is a breeder, this filly, technically was a pinhook.

“The thing I love most about this filly, to be honest, is Tiz Wonderful,” Polan explained. “I just love that horse. He’s one of those look-at-me kind of horses. He’s just a horse that fills you up when he comes out of his stall. I bred to him and didn’t get a live foal, so I put an ad out saying I wanted a Tiz Wonderful foal.”

Enter Chip Muth, who privately sold the then three-month-old filly to Polan. Her dam No more Ironing came along, too, until the Tiz Wonderful filly was weaned.

“This filly has always had a great walk, and she carries herself well. She showed every day with no Chifney,” Polan added, referring to the bit that most sale yearlings have attached to their halters to allow their handlers more control, particularly against rearing. “To me, she has a lot of class. People loved her, and that’s actually even better than the $130,000 - the validation that people loving what I thought so much of.”

Bethe Deal, the Texas pinhooker, knows what Polan means and hopes her yearlings feel some of that love at next year’s juvenile auctions. Talking about the market she expects at the 2-year-old sales, Deal could well have been describing today’s yearling auctions, too.

“It’s the very top of the buyers that have the money right now to spend, so you’ve got to have something they really want,” deal said. “You can’t just have a good individual like you could a couple of years ago.”

Phase I of Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s dispersal immediately followed the yearling sale and featured horses of all ages. The dispersal’s top price was the $240,000 that agent Ciaran Dunne, usually seen buying yearlings and reselling them as juveniles, paid for the broodmare Richbabe. The 15-year-old Richman mare is the dam of Grade 3 winner Richwoman and is carrying a Bluegrass Cat foal. She sold with her April Street Sense colt by her side.

Stallion Bwana Charlie. originally cataloged as the dispersal’s last lot, was withdrawn from the sale.

The dispersal’s other six-figure horses were Driscoll, who brought $105,000 from James L. Stone; $100,000 Spoils, who sold to Fleetwood Bloodstock; and $100,000 Sax Appeal, who went to Jonathan Thorne.

The dispersal session sold 73 horses for $2,949,500, for a $40,404 average and a $29,000 median.