11/01/2015 10:46PM

Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall mixed sale shows sharp drop in gross, average price

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Barbara D. Livingston
Angela Renee, a Grade 1 winner, sold for $3 million Sunday evening.

The Fasig-Tipton Kentucky selected fall mixed sale produced its annual fireworks show, with a number of familiar names, led by $3 million sale-topper Angela Renee, lighting up the board with high prices. But when the smoke cleared following those theatrics, the kickoff to Kentucky's major mixed sale season produced declines in several major economic categories.

A total of 92 horses sold Sunday evening at the sale company’s Newtown Paddocks base in Lexington, Ky., for gross receipts of $43,666,000, down 31 percent from the 108 horses sold for $63,678,000 in 2014. The average price finished at $474,630, down 20 percent from $589,611 last year. The median price did rise 18 percent, from $200,000 to $235,000.

The buyback rate finished at 34 percent, up from 29 percent in 2014.

Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning characterized the marketplace as “rational” and highly selective.

“[There is] lots of competition for what are perceived to be highly desirable offerings,” Browning said. “Buyers bid with enthusiasm, but still with restraint. You don’t have kind of the magical break-out situations like we did several years ago. People kind of have some ideal and limits in mind, and they adhere to those limits rather than not paying attention to them.”

Fourteen horses brought seven-figure prices, a relatively low number for this particular sale. By comparison, 23 horses reached that threshold in 2014, and 24 did so in 2013. Five horses fetched prices of $2 million or more, down from 12 last year.

“It was a deeper catalog [in 2014],” Browning said. “The composition of this sale [changes yearly]. That’s why it’s so hard to compare from year to year, particularly on a limited number of offerings like we’ve got.”

Angela Renee, a Grade 1-winning full sister to multiple Grade 1 winner and young stallion To Honor and Serve, sold to Don Alberto Corp., which continues to build its broodmare band. The operation has become a major player on the auction scene since buying the former Vinery property in Lexington, Ky., in 2013. It has also recently stepped into the Kentucky stallion business, partnering with Gainesway to repatriate Empire Maker, who has stood in Japan since the 2011 season. Empire Maker, the 2003 Belmont Stakes winner and grandsire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, will stand at Gainesway in Lexington for 2016, and Angela Renee is likely to be among the mares in his book.

“She has everything,” said Fernando Diaz-Valdes, who signed the ticket for Don Alberto. “What else could you ask for?”

Angela Renee, a daughter of Bernardini, was consigned by Taylor Made Sales for owner and breeder Siena Farm. Racing in Siena's colors, she scored her major victory in last fall's Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita. She placed in four other graded stakes, including a runner-up effort to eventual Kentucky Oaks winner Lovely Maria in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland this past April.

Angela Renee is out of the stakes-winning Deputy Minister mare Pilfer, making her a full sister to millionaire To Honor and Serve, winner of the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes and Grade 1 Cigar Mile, and a half-sister to Grade 1-placed stakes winner Elnaawi. Out of stakes winner Misty Hour, Pilfer is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner India and to stakes winner Sing Softly.

The second-highest price of the evening was fetched by Callback, winner of this year's Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes, who went for $2.8 million to Elevage Bloodstock, a partnership between Glen Hill Farm and Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms.

Callback, a 3-year-old Street Sense filly, was consigned by Spendthrift Farm, in whose colors she raced. A half-sister to stakes winner Defy Gravity and stakes-placed Miss Super Quick, Callback is from the immediate family of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and champion Rhythm, as well as Grade 1 winners Bluegrass Cat, Got Lucky, and Imagining.

"This is, to us, the best mare in the sale," said Glen Hill’s Craig Bernick after signing the ticket, adding that Callback will likely be bred to red-hot sire Curlin in the spring. "It's a great family. They have a stallion-making family, and obviously a great female family, [with] a lot of the daughters producing."

In addition to Angela Renee and Callback, three other Grade 1 winners sold for prices in excess of $2 million, with Sweet Reason selling for $2.7 million to Katsumi Yoshida, Aubby K selling for $2.4 million to Summer Wind Farm, and Let Faith Arise selling for $2.1 million to Marie Jones. The latter two mares were both offered in foal to Tapit, North America's reigning leading sire.

Aubby K was also the dam of the evening's top weanling, as her first foal, a Tapit colt, sold for $600,000 to Mill Valley Racing. Both he and his dam were consigned by Three Chimneys Farm, agent.

As with last year, there were several high-ticket buybacks, with six mares failing to meet their reserves with seven-figure high bids. The most notable of those was newly crowned Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Stephanie's Kitten, who hammered at $2.95 million. Owner-breeder Ken Ramsey, saying the mare's reserve was about $3 million, said he will keep Stephanie's Kitten for now and campaign her offspring. This was the second year the mare failed to sell at this auction, as she raced for Ramsey another year after drawing a high bid of $3.95 million last year.

Browning said that he is never surprised by high-ticket buybacks at this particular auction.

“In a mixed sale like this, there’s a lot of emotional attachment with owners to many of these fillies and mares,” Browning said. “They’ve achieved, in many instances, the highest of highs on the racetrack with them, and there’s a deep emotional attachment of those horses. … A few high-priced RNAs are generally the rule rather than the exception in this November marketplace.”

Bernick echoed that the market is selective, a trend that he expects to continue at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale as it begins its run Monday.

"It's very hard to win top races and [good horses are] worth a fortune,” Bernick said. “It seems a little bit feast or famine. They either bring a ton of money or they don't get bought. I wouldn't be surprised if that continues for a couple days."

For complete Fasig-Tipton results, click here.