03/21/2014 2:13PM

Fasig-Tipton Florida: Sale offers same quality in new location

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There is plenty to get excited about heading into the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training.

First, the auction carries with it a near-historic wave of momentum, coming on the heels of select sales at Barretts and Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. that posted significant gains in total revenue, average sale price, and median price. The OBS sale set records in all three measures.

Second, the sale will feature new surroundings, taking a detour to Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs South in Williston, Fla., for 2014 after stall availability became an issue at the sale’s recent regular venue, the Palm Meadows training center, due to south Florida’s competing year-round racetracks.

This year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida sale will be held Monday, beginning at noon Eastern, with a catalog of 157 juveniles. The presale under-tack show was scheduled to be held at Adena Springs South’s one-mile dirt training track on Friday.

“We saw a very lively sales market throughout 2013, and the 2-year-old sales are off to a good start in 2014,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning Jr. “We’ve got a good catalog that’s increased in size over last year, with lots of quality horses. They have gotten very, very good reviews from our inspection team, and preliminary training reports coming from Adena Springs are very positive as they’re prepping and people are seeing them on the ground. We couldn’t be more excited and optimistic.”

The catalog has increased 15 percent from 2013, when 136 juveniles were cataloged. That follows the general trend of larger catalogs at major North American 2-year-old sales in 2014, with Barretts March, OBS March, and the OBS spring juvenile sales also boasting more selections than last year.

“I think people have confidence in the marketplace,” Browning said. “There are good horses, and people are willing to pay competitive prices for them.”

Adena Springs South is located in central Florida near Ocala, about 270 miles north of the Miami area, where the sale has traditionally been held, first at Calder Race Course in Miami Gardens from 1983 to 2010, then at Palm Meadows in Boynton Beach from 2011-13.

The sale’s temporary residence at Stronach’s farm will mean a shorter trip for many of the consignors, with the Ocala area being the most prominent training grounds for juveniles in North America. Al Pike, an Ocala-based consignor, said the quality of the catalog should more than offset any disturbances caused by the auction’s location.

“There’s been a lot of talk amongst consignors about that,” Pike said. “Fasig does a great job of getting people out. I expect it to be a good sale because it’s a quality catalog. There’s an appetite and a market out there for good horses, and there will certainly be some good horses here. For these kinds of horses, people would go anywhere to look at them. I expect everything to be all right.”

Browning praised the Adena Springs South staff for its work and accommodations leading up to this year’s Florida sale. He also noted that while the venue might be different, many aspects of the sale will remain unchanged, from both administrative and equine standpoints.

“Any time you have a change, there are logistical issues and challenges,” Browning said. “We’ve had to put up a temporary grandstand there, not unlike the one that we had to do at Palm Meadows, so we have experience doing that. Mark Roberts [general manager of Adena Springs South] and his team at Adena Springs have bent over backwards to make sure that everything is perfect, and I think people are going to be very impressed and pleased when they see the facility and the quality of the racetrack.”

Fasig-Tipton announced in October plans to relocate the sale to Miami-area Gulfstream Park, another Stronach-owned property, for future editions.

Last year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida sale brought in revenue of $17,725,000 from 46 horses sold, down 8 percent from 2012, when 60 juveniles sold for $19,215,000. However, the average sale price rose 20 percent, from $320,250 to $385,326, while the median rose 32 percent, from $227,500 to $300,000. The buyback rate rose significantly last year, from 29 percent in 2012 to 41 percent.

Robert LaPenta was the winning bidder on last year’s sale topper, a $1.6 million Bernardini colt, now named Sassicaia, out of the Forestry mare Hishi Aspen, a winner in Japan. Now in training with Chad Brown, the colt was consigned as agent by Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds.

Almost Famous, a contender on the Triple Crown trail, is another notable horse who changed hands at last year’s sale, going to owner Charles Sandford for $500,000. The Unbridled’s Song colt was entered in Saturday’s Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.