07/10/2003 11:00PM

Fasig-Tipton going strong


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's July yearling sale has gone from strength to strength in the last decade, even producing gains in recent years when tonier marketplaces like Keeneland's July sale have suffered declines. This year, with the Keeneland July sale canceled, Fasig-Tipton has Kentucky's summer yearling market all to itself, and the July 16-17 auction looks like it has some ammunition on hand to post more gains.

Since 1994, the sale's average price has risen every year, climbing from $31,361 to $97,815. The sale hasn't returned to the level that produced its record $1,750,000 yearling in 1983, but its top prices have risen to such a point that even the most selective of buyers have felt compelled to stop in and look around in the last few years. In 2002, the sale-topper was a $700,000 Unbridled's Song colt bought by Bob and Beverly Lewis, who are among the most free-spending buyers at boutique auctions, too.

Last year, the Fasig-Tipton July auction rang up a gain in average despite adding 40 percent more yearlings to its catalog - a feat most pundits would have thought nearly impossible, especially in light of the recent economic downturn. This year, the Fasig-Tipton July catalog has dropped to 462, down substantially from last year's 536. The reduction, said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton chief operating officer, is solely because of the effects that mare reproductive loss syndrome had on central Kentucky's 2003 yearling crop, not on any decision by the sale company to cut the catalog.

Mare reproductive loss syndrome caused thousands of early fetal abortions in central Kentucky mares in 2001. Those foals, had they been born, would have been sent to this season's yearling sales.

Despite the loss in numbers, the Fasig-Tipton July auction appears flush with attractive pedigrees, including yearlings by such young sires as Fusaichi Pegasus, Distorted Humor, Elusive Quality, Grand Slam, and Dixie Union. These include a Fusaichi Pegasus half-sister to Grade 1 winners Chaposa Springs and You and I and to the dam of stakes-winners Palestino, Ransom's Pride, and Navajo - a bloodline that would be welcomed in any boutique sale.

Did the loss of the Keeneland July sale push some better pedigrees Fasig-Tipton's way? Browning thinks not.

"We have a few fancier pedigrees this year than in years past," he acknowledged, "but I think it's a reflection of people's confidence in this sale and this market. Part of selling horses today is putting them in the right place. I think we'd have had similar pedigrees even if Keeneland had had its sale this year."

The auction's reputation as a source of horses in the $50,000 to $500,000 range also is likely to draw a selection of high-level buyers, even without the additional draw of Keeneland's boutique July sale. To ensure that, Browning said Fasig-Tipton did more personal solicitation and spent a little more on advertising the auction this year.

"We're pretty darned enthusiastic," Browning said. "We're confident. We have received a good response from people, and we think the sale will be well attended by the right people. We've received indications that essentially all the major players will be attending this sale."

The Fasig-Tipton July sale is generally seen as more meat-and-potatoes than the glitzier Keeneland and Saratoga summer auctions, and that reputation probably will help it if buyers are feeling conservative about spending money on racehorses this year.

If they want to spend, there will be plenty of horses to bid on. A small selection of some of the more interesting pedigrees follows.

* Hip No. 13, a Lemon Drop Kid half-sister to Grade 1 winner Heritage of Gold;

* Hip No. 31, a Charismatic colt out of a half-sister to On to Royalty;

* Hip No. 63, an Artax half-brother to major earners Ifyoucouldseemenow and Doyouseewhatisee;

* Hip No. 83, an Artax three-quarter-sister to $720,000-earner Max's Pal;

* Hip No. 121, a Cat Thief half-brother to Grade 2 winner and $980,000-earner Rob 'n Gin;

* Hip No. 162, a Yes It's True colt out of Grade 1-placed stakes-winner Daring Donne;

* Hip No. 190, a Real Quiet colt out of Grade 1-placed Flying in the Lane;

* Hip No. 227, a Storm Creek half-brother to Grade 1-placed stakes-winner C'est L'Amour;

* Hip No. 259, a Fusaichi Pegasus half-sister to $500,000-earner The Exeter Man;

* Hip No. 269, an In a Walk half-sister to Grade 1 winner You;

* Hip No. 278, a Mt. Livermore half-sister to Grade 1 winner Famous Digger;

* Hip No. 279, a Storm Creek half-brother to Grade 1 winner Hookedonthefeelin;

* Hip no. 286, a Meadowlake half-sister to Grade 1 winner Brutally Frank;

* Hip No. 302, a Thunder Gulch colt out of Satin and Lace, a half-sister to Spain's dam;

* Hip No. 322, a Wild Rush half-brother to Grade 2 winner Kafwain;

* Hip No. 352, a Distorted Humor colt, first foal for Grade 2 winner Zuppardo Ardo;

* Hip No. 381, a Montbrook full sister to Grade 1 winner Trust N Luck;

* Hip No. 384, a Spinning World half-sister to Canadian champion Buckys Solution;

* Hip No. 404, a Storm Creek half-sister to Fight for Ally and Colonial Glitter;

* Hip No. 416, a Gilded Time half-sister to Grade 1-placed Mass Market;

* Hip No. 432, a Jules three-quarter-brother to Grade 2 winner Roar Emotion; and

* Hip No. 446, an Honor Grades half-brother to Grade 3 winner Jambalaya Jazz.