03/28/2017 1:51PM

Fasig-Tipton to hold Turf Showcase yearling sale in September

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Fasig-Tipton made a splash on the North American auction calendar on Tuesday when the company announced its inaugural Turf Showcase yearling sale, focusing on yearlings that appear suited for racing on the turf.

The single-day sale will take place at the auction company’s Newtown Paddocks base in Lexington, Ky., on Sunday, Sept. 10, the day before the marathon Keeneland September yearling sale’s opening session.

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Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said it was too early in the selection process to estimate how many horses would fill the catalog, but he said the auction would keep a select format, with entries approved on pedigree and physical conformation, and an expected start time in the late afternoon or early evening.

“Like any business, you’re always looking at doing self-reflection and evaluating the ever-changing marketplace,” Browning said. “We’ve certainly paid attention to some of the trends that we’ve seen in the stallion operations. Virtually every major stallion operation in North America has made significant investments in stallions and stallion prospects that have some turf appeal to them. There’s some growing interest and awareness in the marketplace, and we decided the time was right.”

The auction company is familiar with venturing into unorthodox territory for its auctions. In 2013, Fasig-Tipton introduced a dedicated selected horses of racing age sale to accompany its usual Kentucky July yearling auction, and it has developed into arguably the leading event in that marketplace.

Browning also highlighted the company’s former “New Sire Showcase” session of the July yearling sale, which lumped together horses by stallions with two crops or fewer, as an example of Fasig-Tipton giving the spotlight to a certain portion of the marketplace that may not be commercially in vogue.

“It’s going to be a learning curve,” Browning said. “It’s always interesting when you start a new concept. Hopefully we’ve read the market right and there will be a lot of interest from both consignors and buyers when we get to that stage.”

Carrie Brogden of consignor Select Sales said the new auction could provide sellers an avenue to better place middle-market horses with turf leanings in front of buyers looking for them – primarily, international clients that race and breed for grass. A horse like that, she said, might get lost in the shuffle in the middle-to-late books of the Keeneland September sale, where the buying bench becomes more regional and dirt-favoring.

“Every year, there’s people that are frustrated with book placement at Keeneland, and that comes with the territory,” Brogden said. “There are always people who are frustrated with having horses a book too early, and there are people frustrated with having horses a book or two too late, so maybe that could help alleviate some of those problems - some of those turf horses that should be seen by turf buyers, but maybe are relegated to the later books for whatever reason.”

Following with Browning’s assessment of the stallion market, Phil Hager of Crestwood Farm said the Turf Showcase sale could help boost the profile of a stallion like Crestwood resident Get Stormy, whose turf preference has been passed on to his foals, but is still seeking a breakthrough commercially.

“I think a lot of the turf stallions need some kind of showcase,” Hager said. “They can be a little undervalued sometimes in sale placement, so I think with the popularity of turf racing, it’s an important way to showcase them in a select sale.”