07/15/2004 11:00PM

Fasig-Tipton finds July sale a good fit

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - For the second consecutive year, Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's July selected yearling sale will be the only summer yearling sale in Lexington. And, once again, sale company officials are expressing optimism about the 492-horse sale on Monday and Tuesday at Newtown Paddocks.

Last year, when Keeneland first announced it would cancel its tony select auction, many wondered whether the world's major yearling buyers would bypass the Fasig-Tipton sale. They didn't.

The 2003 Fasig-Tipton sale drew representatives from Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, Bob and Beverly Lewis, and B. Wayne Hughes, among others, resulting in a successful two-day auction that grossed more than $28 million, averaged $93,076, and had a median of $67,000. Gross declined 11 percent, due to a 20 percent smaller catalog size, while average and median were off about 4 percent, having followed a boom year in 2002. But buybacks fell from 39 percent to 29 percent, and the 2003 market was generally a healthy one.

"I feel optimistic," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton chief operating officer. "The market's been very good thus far in 2004, the 2-year-old sales have been strong, there's tremendous enthusiasm in the racing world, and we've had a significant amount of pre-sale interest. All the signs point to a good sale."

The 2004 juvenile sales popped off a series of record prices from Florida to California to Kentucky, leaving a number of 2-year-old sellers with pockets full of money and a desire to restock their shelves. Like trainers, yearling-to-juvenile pinhookers have responded to Fasig-Tipton's catalog strategy: focus on conformation.

"I think 2-year-old pinhookers will be very active this year," Browning said, "and they're an important part of any yearling market, whether in July, at Saratoga, or at Keeneland September.

"When we begin our selection process, it's conformation first," he continued. "We may be a little forgiving on pedigree. What we're looking for is a strong, athletic horse that may have a minor conformational flaw but has overall balance, size, and a nice, lively walk."

The sale's first 223 hip numbers are entrants in the "new sire showcase," featuring sires with their first yearlings or 2-year-olds this season. There are first yearlings by Horse of the Year Tiznow, champion Point Given, Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, champion Black Minnaloushe, millionaire King Cugat, and Grade 1 winners Albert the Great, Aptitude, Brahms, City Zip, Delaware Township, Ecton Park, El Corredor, Songandaprayer, and Trippi.

Chances are, the battles will erupt over horses combining the best athleticism with the best pedigrees. The lots are too numerous to list, but some with rich pedigrees include:

* Hip No. 12, an Unbridled Jet half-brother to Grade 1 winner Hookedonthefeelin.

* Hip No. 35, a Yes It's True filly out of Grade 1 winner Shocker T.

* Hip No. 52, a Broken Vow half-brother to Grade 1-placed Storm Punch.

* Hip No. 110, a Forest Camp half-brother to graded winners Political Attack and Zillah the Hun.

* Hip No. 130, a Monarchos half-sister to Grade 1-placed Great Notion.

* Hip No. 140, a son of Five Star Day and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies third-place finisher Fine Spirit.

* Hip No. 213, an El Corredor half-sister to Grade 2 winner Wicapi and three other stakes winners.

* Hip No. 249, a Meadowlake half-brother to Carter Handicap winner Brutally Frank.

* Hip No. 272, a Silver Deputy three-quarter sister to Humana Distaff winner Mayo on the Side.

* Hip No. 275, an Unbridled's Song half-brother to $900,000 earner Euchre and two other stakes winners.

* Hip No. 296, a Fusaichi Pegasus half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Marquetry.

* Hip No. 339, a Cozzene half-brother to Grade 1-placed St Averil.

* Hip No. 362, an Unbridled's Song half-brother to champion Maria's Mon.

* Hip No. 365, a Montbrook half-sister to Grade 1-placed Looie Capote.

* Hip No. 372, a Silver Deputy colt out of Grade 1-placed Champagne Glow.

* Hip No. 475, a Silver Charm half-brother to Canadian champion Free at Last.

* Hip No. 490, a Hennessy colt out of Peruvian grass champion Nadja.

Sessions begin each day at 10 a.m.

Reform group launches website

The Alliance for Industry Reform, an organization started by prominent buyer Satish Sanan to call for greater industry oversight of public and private sales practices, has begun an information campaign. The group launched a website Friday at www.allianceforindustryreform.com, the same week it also ran an open letter in Daily Racing Form and the trade magazines Thoroughbred Times and The Blood-Horse.

The letter calls for full disclosure of cosmetic surgeries and medications in sales horses, full disclosure of agents' clients, and an end to dual agency, in which one agent represents both sides of a transaction without both clients' knowledge.

Sanan said Friday that AIR intends to repeat its open-letter ad before the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga and Keeneland September yearling sales, which Sanan will boycott.