10/23/2013 8:24PM

Fasig-Tipton Kentucky: Third session wraps record-setting renewal

A Smart Strike filly sold for $800,000 during Wednesday's final session to help fuel record totals at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale.

The 2012 edition of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale was a banner renewal, posting new records in overall gross, average and median prices. A year later, those high-water marks are a distant memory.

After three days of selling at the 2013 renewal, a total of 818 horses changed hands for an all-time October sale-high gross of $27,908,000. That figure was a 21 percent increase from the $22,991,600 generated from 880 yearlings sold in 2012.

The average sale price of $34,117 was a 31 percent improvement over last year’s then-record figure of $26,127, while the median reached a new high point of $17,000, up 33 percent from $12,750.

“The marketplace is vibrant,” Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning Jr. said. “There’s lots of activity. It’s not irrational, it’s not crazy, but it certainly is full of good, quality commerce across the board, and that’s very encouraging.”

Browning said he was especially pleased by the sale’s buyback rate, which fell to 16 percent after finishing at 20 percent during last year’s edition.

“At the end of the day, you want it to be a really solid marketplace where people are able to transact business,” he said. “The numbers will take care of themselves over time. A 16 percent buyback rate on 1,100 horses tells you it’s working. If we can have a 16 percent buyback rate next year, and the average is down 5 percent, you’ll see me saying, ‘It was a terrific horse sale and we’re very pleased.’ If we have a 40 percent increase in the average and a 40 percent buyback rate, you’ll have me scratching my head.”

Further illustrating the strength at the top of the market, the number of horses to sell for six figures increased 26 percent, from 47 in 2012 to 59. The number of yearlings who brought $200,000 or more rose from six to 15.

Borges Torrealba Holdings was the winning bidder on the sale-topper, a Smart Strike filly that the Brazilian-based operation secured for $800,000. The hammer price was the second-highest paid for a yearling at the October sale since 1980.

The dark bay or brown filly, who bloodstock agent Doug Cauthen signed for, is out of Grade 1-placed stakes winner Handpainted, whose three winners from as many foals to race include Grade 3-placed stakes winner Patena and stakes-placed winner Oil Painting. The yearling’s sale price easily made her the most expensive foal sold at public auction out of Handpainted.

“She’s a very elegant filly,” said John G. Sikura of co-breeder and consignor Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm. “She was an end-of-May foal. She was nominated and accepted to Book 1 of the [Keeneland] September sale, but she needed more time. She got to the grounds and just really thrived. Her quality and class projected and I thought that was seen by people.”

The filly is a third-generation product of the Hill ‘n’ Dale breeding program, co-bred in Kentucky by N.E.T.P., and she was consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, as agent.

She is from the family of Canadian Horse of the Year With Approval, Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold, Canadian champion Serenading, Grade 1 winner Brilliant Speed, and Japanese Group 3 winner Touch Me Not.

“It’s fantastic,” Sikura said. “One of the things as a breeder you look forward to accomplishing is producing branches of pedigrees specific to your farm, and you’re identified with the successes of those pedigrees. Hopefully we’re on our way to doing that with a few pedigrees, including this one.”

The filly ranks second by price at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale since 1980, behind Pure Charm, a Storm Cat filly purchased by Robert and Beverly Lewis for $925,000 in 1999.

The filly surpassed Saint Ballado colt Big Unit, who sold to agent Buzz Chace at the 2000 October sale for $750,000, for the second-highest price. It was the highest price reported at the sale since 2005, when a Distorted Humor colt eventually named Happy Humor went to Stonestreet Stables for $600,000.

The Torrealba family owns Stud TNT in Brazil and recently made a major investment in Three Chimneys Farm to advance its U.S. operations. In January, Borges Torrealba Holdings purchased the Lexington, Ky., farm of Padua Stables’ Satish Sanan, which was managed by Three Chimneys, for a reported $8.8 million.

Wednesday’s transaction helped cap off a lucrative yearling season for the Lexington-based Hill ‘n’ Dale operation, which consigned five yearlings for $1 million or more in 2013.

In addition to selling the two most expensive offerings of the October sale, having also consigned a $500,000 Distorted Humor colt on Tuesday, Hill ‘n’ Dale sold the highest-priced fillies at this year’s Keeneland September yearling sale and Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale.

“It’s very rewarding,” Sikura said. “It’s a good culmination to the yearling selling season, and a credit to the buyers and the people who work at the farm and everybody that’s part of our team. It’s not a singular success, it’s a team success, and it feels good to accomplish those things.

“We’ve retained significant fillies for several years, and this was the year we decided to sell our crop,” he continued. “We’ve been involved in lots of different ventures that have committed resources to buying high-end mares and different things. At some point, you have to pay your bills. Fortunately, it’s a year that lots of people wanted to get involved, and it’s been a really strong year. We’re a victim of positive circumstances as much as anything. You always have to have luck in any business.”

Wednesday’s third and final day of selling was historic in its own right, with 287 horses sold for $10,524,600, breaking the single-session record for gross revenues that was set the previous day. On its own, Wednesday’s session surpassed the overall three-day totals of the 2008, 2009, and 2010 October sales, among many others prior to the market bubble of the mid-2000s.

The Day 3 revenues were an increase of 35 percent from last year’s third session, which finished at $7,772,500 from 298 yearlings sold. The average price rose 36 percent, from $26,894 to $36,671, while the median of $19,000 was a gain of 58 percent from $12,000 at last year’s October sale. The buyback rate of 14 percent was down from 19 percent in 2012.

“We were thrilled today,” Browning said. “We started off with a huge bang with the $800,000 filly, and the back walking ring still had people out there on the very last horse going through the ring that was included in the addendum.”