07/18/2002 11:00PM

Fasig-Tipton average up a bit

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Bloodstock sellers breathed easier Thursday night following strong returns at Fasig-Tipton's July selected yearling sale. The two-day auction, seen as an indicator for the select yearling market, posted an average price of $97,815, up slightly from last year's $97,671 despite the addition of 41 percent more horses this year. The median remained unchanged from last year at $70,000.

The results, headed by the sale-topping $700,000 Unbridled's Song colt that Bob and Beverly Lewis bought, calmed fears that the select yearling market might be on a general downslide after 30-percent drops across the board at the boutique Keeneland July select sale in Lexington on Monday and Tuesday.

"I think our sale helped restore some confidence in the overall marketplace," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's chief operating officer. "Mare, yearling, and weanling owners probably slept a little better last night."

Overall, the Fasig-Tipton auction sold 325 yearlings for gross receipts of $31,790,000. The only negative figure was the buy-back rate, which rose one percentange point to 39 percent, putting it close to the rate of 40 percent that Keeneland reported at its July auction.

"That's the game we're playing at the top of the yearling sales in these days," Browning said of the persistently high buy-back rates at select auctions. "Clearly one of the reasons for it is the repository. A certain percentage of horses don't pass the vet for sale purposes, which doesn't necessarily mean they aren't fine to race."

Consignor Marshall Silverman, agent, sold the sale-topper late in Thursday's closing session. The colt is by Unbridled's Song out of the Arctic Tern mare Arctic Valley, making him a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Da Devil. Jim and Pam Robinson bred the colt, who was a $95,000 buyback at last year's Keeneland November sale.