03/21/2013 5:24PM

Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale arrives on wave of momentum


Fasig-Tipton’s Florida select juvenile sale, on Monday at the Palm Meadows Training Center, will test the upper limits of the 2-year-old marketplace at a time when expectations for juvenile auction prices are running high.

The Florida sale, now in its third year at Palm Meadows in Boynton Beach, Fla., cataloged just 136 horses this year. That is down 19 percent from last season’s 167-horse catalog and reflects further slippage in national foal crop numbers, which plummeted after the global economic crisis and bloodstock market crash in 2008. That cut in the number of young Thoroughbreds has helped boost prices, sales officials have said, as supply shrinks in the face of what appears to be reasonably stable demand at recent select 2-year-olds in training sales.

Last year, the Florida auction produced three millionaire juveniles, led by the season’s highest-priced 2-year-old at auction. That was the $1.3 million Big Brown colt Darwin, now a winner, that Amy and Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree agency sold to Coolmore agent Demi O’Byrne. The 2012 auction ended its session with 60 horses sold for $19,215,000, a 7 percent dip compared with the previous year, but average and median both increased. Average climbed 35 percent to $320,250, and median improved 14 percent to $227,500.

A cautionary note came, as it often does in the juvenile market, in the number of withdrawals and buybacks. From last year’s initial catalog of 167 horses, 84 went through the ring. Twenty-four of those failed to reach their sellers’ reserves, but the resulting 29 percent buyback rate immediately after the auction was well below the 2011 figure of 39 percent. The message was a familiar one to 2-year-old sellers and one that almost certainly will be repeated throughout the juvenile auction calendar in 2013: There is plenty of money at the top of the market, but bidders at the select sales remain very stringent in their requirements.

Though Fasig-Tipton had posted 23 outs as of Thursday, additional withdrawals traditionally follow the under-tack shows at the select juvenile sales. Fasig-Tipton’s under-tack preview was to be held Friday at the Palm Meadows Training Center’s oval.

Fasig-Tipton’s Florida sale is the third on the select sale circuit and follows bullish upper-market spending at the two earlier events: the Barretts March auction in Pomona, Calif., on March 4 and the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s sale that took place in Ocala, Fla., on March 12-13. Both saw sizable gains, justifying auction officials’ pre-season optimism about their bottom lines.

After selling 61 horses for a combined $8,751,000, the Barretts March sale posted an average of $143,459 and a $100,000 median; those figures rose 31 percent and 18 percent, respectively. The sale-topping colt, a son of Malibu Moon from the family of multiple Grade 1 winner Peace Rules, sold to Demi O’Byrne for $675,000. James Chapman’s Breaking Point Farm consigned the colt, who is out of Fashion Cat, by Forest Wildcat, and was one of three juveniles to bring $500,000 or more at the sale.

O’Byrne was the Barretts March sale’s leading buyer by gross expenditures after picking up three horses for $1,425,000, a welcome signal to upper-market sellers that Coolmore could be a consistent and active presence this season.

When the final hammer fell, from a catalog of 138 horses there had been 46 scratches at Barretts. Thirty-one juveniles had failed to reach their sellers’ reserve prices, resulting in a 34 percent buyback rate, but that was down from 36 percent at the auction’s 2012 edition.

The two-day OBS sale also rang up gains in average and median, and it fired off a $1.8 million sale topper, equal to the sale’s record high price set by Garifine in 2006. The sale topper was a Smart Strike colt out of Grade 2 winner Mini Sermon, by the late sire Pulpit; he is from the immediate family of graded stakes winners Minidar, Colonial Minstrel, and A Little Warm. Stonestreet Stables snapped the colt up from the King’s Equine consignment.

The Smart Strike colt helped boost the average at OBS March to $156,572, a 14 percent gain compared with last year’s figure, and median jumped 25 percent to hit $125,000. As at Barretts, the buyback rate at OBS slimmed down from 2012’s figure, falling 4 points from 25 percent to 21 percent, with 187 horses bringing an aggregate $29,279,000. There were 109 outs, or about 32 percent of the catalog, from an initial catalog of 345 juveniles.

Fasig-Tipton’s Florida auction has gotten a lift from its graduates’ performance so far this racing season. Graydar, a $260,000 purchase at the 2011 auction, took the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. Kauai Katie, a 2012 graduate who cost $490,000, brought her graded stakes tally to four with a pair of wins in 2013. Another 2012 graduate, $100,000 Honorable Dillon, captured the Grade 2 Hutcheson in February, and the 2011 sale’s More Chocolate, who sold for $310,000, has won the Grade 2 La Canada and finished second in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita so far this year. Among older runners, 7-year-old Reynaldothewizard, who sold for $775,000 in 2008, won Meydan’s Mahab al Shimaal, a Group 3, earlier this month.

The Fasig-Tipton Florida sale will take place Monday, March 25, at Palm Meadows, starting at noon Eastern.


The Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale

When: March 25, 2013, at noon

Under-tack preview: March 22, 2013, at 9 a.m.

Where: Palm Meadows Training Center, 8898 Lyons Road, Boynton Beach, Fla. 33472

Phone: (859) 255-1555

Catalog: 136 horses, down from 167 in 2011, partly due to the decline in foal crop size

Recent history: Last year, the auction sold three seven-figure horses, including the season’s highest-priced juveniel auction graduate: $1.3 million Darwin, by Big Brown. Amy and Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree agency sold that colt to Coolmore agent Demi O’Byrne. The 2012 auction sold 60 horses sold for $19,215,000, down seven percent from 2011’s total, but average and median both increased sharply. Average rose 35 percent to $320,250, while median climbed 14 percent to $227,500. Buybacks were 29 percent, down from 39 percent in 2011.

Internet: Live streaming at www.fasigtipton.com