03/23/2012 3:29PM

Fasig-Tipton Florida juvenile auction brings optimism

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Fasig-Tipton’s Florida 2-year-old auction will take place Monday amidst renewed optimism in the select juvenile market, thanks to across-the-board gains at the season’s first two sales.

The March 26 Fasig-Tipton sale at Palm Meadows in Boynton Beach, Fla., has a catalog that is smaller than last year’s, following the general trend as foal crops have dropped sharply since the 2008 bloodstock market decline. That’s likely to help bring supply and demand more closely into alignment, although sellers still note that in all segments of the Thoroughbred market buyers remain highly selective. But several other factors also could help the Fasig-Tipton sale further the 2012 select juvenile market’s momentum, including its shift to a later date on the calendar, Fasig-Tipton chief executive Boyd Browning said.

[LIVE VIDEO: Fasig-Tipton Florida Select Sale]

“The early sales have been encouraging, and we like our spot,” Browning said. “The movement is toward later, less racing early on in the 2-year-old sale season. Consignors and buyers have both expressed a desire for increased maturity of horses at the in-training sales.”

The select auction season got under way with the March 5 Barretts sale in Pomona, Calif., whose larger catalog bucked the recent trend. The one-night sale posted a 52 percent increase in gross, while the $109,428 average and $85,000 median represented gains of 9 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Eight days later, the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company kept things in positive territory at its own two-day select auction, where average ($137,897) climbed 32 percent and median ($100,000) rose 43 percent.

“The first selected sales looked relatively strong, both posted positive sales indicators in terms of average price, median price, and it looks like there is activity in the marketplace and demand for horses,” Browning said. “I think there’s a positive mood right now, both in the Thoroughbred economy and in the overall U.S. and world economy. It’s not spectacular in either case, but I think it’s certainly a more positive atmosphere and mood this time in 2012 than it was in 2011. We’ve seen some clear indications in the last 18 months of stability, with, hopefully, trending upward. Not a dramatic, steep increase, but certainly in the right direction.”

Auction preparations got out of the gate Friday at the under-tack show, also conducted at Palm Meadows.

At the March 23 under-tack preview, a Malibu Moon filly and a Lion Heart colt were the fastest over a furlong, working in 10 seconds. They were Hip No. 65, a Malibu Moon-More Than Pretty filly, and Hip No. 67, a Lion Heart-Obligation North colt. Of five juveniles who worked on the turf, the fastest over an eighth-mile was Hip No. 59, a Mr. Greeley-Magnificent Melody filly, who went in 10.2 seconds. The day’s fastest quarter-mile work was on the grass. That was the 21.4-second work by Hip No. 64, an Any Given Saturday colt out of Moravia.

The Florida sale’s 2012 catalog features a few interesting first foals, for both dams and sires. The filly cataloged as Hip No. 39 is the first foal out of Grade 1 winner Irish Smoke and also is from 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown’s first crop. Hip No. 41, a colt, is the first foal for multiple graded winner and $745,089 earner J’ray; he is by Medaglia d’Oro.

First-crop sires with Grade 1-connected juveniles include Henrythenavigator, whose sole offering is a half-brother to Here Comes Ben (143). J Be K, another with one horse on offer, has a half-sister to Grade 1-placed Laureate Conductor.

Other first-crop sires are champion sprinter Midnight Lute, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Raven’s Pass, Street Boss, Student Council, War Pass, Tiz Wonderful, Majestic Warrior, Gottcha Gold, Ready’s Image, First Defence, and Salute the Sarge.

There are some interesting pedigrees with proven sires, too. Tapit, recently selected as Zenyatta’s next mate, has a half-brother to Argentine Grade 1 winner Forty Greeta (101). Medaglia d’Oro has a half-brother to Grade 1-placed Mananan Mclir (104). Bernardini’s large eight-horse group features a half-brother to Grade 1-placed War Monger (139). Empire Maker, now standing in Japan, has a half-brother to Grade 1-placed Ginger Pop (10). Stormy Atlantic’s Hip No. 15 is a full sister to near-millionaire and record-setter Icy Atlantic. Malibu Moon’s seven juveniles include a half-sister to major earner and record-setter Beau’s Town (13) and a son of Grade 1-placed Hello Lucky (26). Hip 19, by Pulpit, is a three-quarter-brother to Ender’s Sister. The late Indian Charlie sired Hip No. 28, a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Divine Park.

Street Cry’s only lot, Hip No. 80, is a half-brother to Horse of the Year Invasor, who himself is the sire of a half-sister to Z Fortune (98). And Horse of the Year Tiznow is represented by a half-sister to Grade 1-placed Alienation (128).

The sale’s history of multi-million-dollar prices during the last decade’s bloodstock boom – most notably when the auctioneer famously hammered down The Green Monkey for a record $16 million – have lent the Fasig-Tipton Florida auction a reputation as an expensive place to buy a juvenile racing prospect. But at least one of its catalog cover horses helps counter a reputation that Browning calls “a gross mischaracterization” of the sale. That’s Gio Ponti, a $45,000 buyback at this auction in 2007 who went on to earn more than $6 million and three championship titles.

“We’ve got horses that appeal to a broad range of buyers, not necessarily only the elite,” Browning said. “We’ve had successful graduates come out of this sale at all price levels and are confident the same will be true in 2012.”

The Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-old sale will take place Monday at Palm Meadows, with the single session starting at noon. The auction will stream live at fasigtipton.com and on drf.com.

FASIG-TIPTON FLORIDA SELECT SALE
When: March 26, 2012, at noon
Where: Palm Meadows Training Center, 8898 Lyons Road, Boynton Beach, Fla., 33472
Phone: (859) 255-1555
Catalog: 167, down from 240 in 2011
Recent history: Held March 3 last season, the one-day sale grossed $20,685,000 for 87 juveniles. The gross was down 12 percent from 2010’s total for 91 horses. The $237,759 average also fell eight percent, but the $200,000 median was level with 2010. The buyback rate was 39 percent, up from 37 percent in 2010.
Internet: Live streaming video at fasigtipton.com and drf.com