04/05/2012 1:47PM

Fasig-Tipton: Boutte scores big with $1.2 million sale

Lynne Boutte with Price Is Truth, whose $1.2 million price was the second-highest at Fasig-Tipton’s March 26 sale.

Consignor Lynne Boutte has described her yearling-to-juvenile resale prospects as mostly blue-collar, but her recent pinhooking history has been anything but.

Boutte, who operates a training business with her husband, Chris, near Ocala, Fla., went into Fasig-Tipton’s March 26 Florida select 2-year-old auction with a personal-best sale price of $300,000. She left the sale at Palm Meadows with a much bigger number to her credit after selling Price Is Truth, a onetime $180,000 yearling, to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum for $1.2 million on behalf of her client, Calvin Klein co-founder Barry Schwartz. It was the auction’s second-highest price, behind the $1.3 million Big Brown colt Wavertree Stables sold to Coolmore.

This isn’t the first big pinhooking score Boutte, 51, has pulled off. Her previous pinnacle, the $300,000 More Than Ready filly Corkage, was a $50,000 yearling before she topped last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale at a price that Boutte tearfully described back then as “very special.”

What makes Boutte’s recent pinhooking successes all the more interesting is that she and Chris, 50, don’t consider sales the mainstay of their business. During the boom years of the early and mid-2000s, she and her husband feared the cyclical bust and have played it conservatively.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs in the industry, but we’ve been able to maintain through them,” Boutte said. “When everybody was really stepping up in the market a number of years ago, it kind of spooked us a little bit, and we backed down to buying more of the blue-collar type of horses. I guess because I had seen what happened in the ’80s, it made me cautious.”

Instead of spending more and increasing speculation on expensive yearling-to-juvenile resale prospects, the Bouttes focused on their racehorse training business, with a core group of clients that includes Dr. Dan Frazier, whose recent good ones include Ohio’s richest mare, Pay the Man; Schwartz; and Black Swan Stable, a partnership that includes syndicate manager John DeStefano and Schwartz’s wife, Sheryl. Black Swan, in fact, was a client for whom Boutte sold $300,000 Corkage last year.

“This past fall, Mr. Schwartz decided to step back into the purchasing end,” Boutte explained. “He’s been breeding a lot of horses, and he has a lot of New York-bred homebreds. But they decided to go to the sales.”

Bloodstock agent Hugo Merry helped Schwartz select some auction yearlings that then shipped to the Bouttes’ 35-acre Reddick, Fla., facility, Eagle’s View Farm at The Gallops, for their breaking and early training.

“We got going over the list one day, and Mr. Schwartz said, ‘I own a lot of horses,’ ” Boutte said. “We talked back and forth, and he decided it might be an opportunity to put a couple through the sale ring as 2-year-olds, which was a new venture for him. Primarily, they own racehorses, but he’s also a businessman, and everything lined up like it should. Fasig-Tipton came in and liked the horses we showed them, and it worked out. They obviously don’t all bring that kind of money, but we went with horses that we thought maybe one could.”

One of those was Price Is Truth, a Distorted Humor colt out of the unraced Storm Cat mare Secret Thyme.

“This colt, everything went right,” Boutte said. “He just was a neat package from the get-go. Golly, he’s by Distorted Humor out of a Storm Cat mare, and how do you get neater than that? When we started breaking him, he was strong-minded. That goes with the breeding. But he was manageable, and he broke well. We hope he ends up in the winner’s circle for the sheikh.”

Boutte grew up on Long Island, where her elementary school was just steps away from Belmont Park. She has been in Ocala since 1979, and she and Chris have about 50 horses in training for clients who race.

She got her start pinhooking in 1983, when she was 23.

“I had a Medieval Man colt and an On to Glory, and they did well enough for me to keep going,” she said. “I hocked my Camaro so I could pay for them. We paid $5,000 for them, and I think we sold one for $13,000 and one for $10,000. It paid off the loan on the Camaro, and I got to keep it for another three or four years.

“But you know what?” she said. “The sales can be heartbreaking. They can be thrilling, but they can be heartbreaking. We used to sell a lot of horses, and it was fun. But when the industry changed, it got so hard to explain to people why their nice horses weren’t selling. That’s a lot of the reason we backed out of the sales. We don’t do a sale every week now.”

But they do a few a season. This year, the Bouttes expect to consign a total of 15. So far, so good.

“It’s still all just like a dream,” Boutte said of the seven-figure sale. “Hopefully, it will happen again someday. But the fact that we did it once is just phenomenal.”