02/03/2017 10:10AM

Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale last chance for broodmare buyers

Barbara D. Livingston
Grade 3 winner Flashy American, in foal to Orb, topped the 2016 Fasig-Tipton winter mixed sale at $395,000.

It would be hard to find a participant in the Thoroughbred auction market who has found selling horses during the mixed portion of the calendar easy this time around.

While trade remains robust for horses who are able to jump through buyers’ hoops, that group has begun to shrink, especially on the regional level. On the lower end of the spectrum, business has been dire across the board, with regional sales and the later books of larger auctions struggling with low bids and high buyback rates.

As the last major stop on the North American mixed auction calendar, the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale will face the same challenges as its sister sales during this cycle. However, this auction has a few things going for it that its predecessors did not.

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Chief among them is the sense of urgency that comes with the last chance to fill orders for broodmares at auction before the start of the breeding season in mid-February. Second is the auction’s last-minute supplemental entry policy, which provided some extra name recognition to the catalog in its first two dispatches.

“I don’t think there will be any real surprises in the sale itself,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “There is going to continue to be lots of demand for what are perceived to be the quality offerings, and for those horses that don’t appeal to the higher-end segment of the market – the mare that’s got a spotty produce or has got some age and hasn’t produced much – the market’s going to be tough. We’ve seen that trend in recent years, and we see it continuing in other sales. There’s no reason to expect things to be any different.”

The auction will take place Monday and Tuesday at Fasig-Tipton’s Newtown Paddocks base in Lexington, Ky., beginning each day at 10 a.m. Eastern. With supplemental entries still being taken, the catalog had 640 entries through Wednesday, a 22 percent increase from last year’s final count of 525.

“For February, I don’t think it’s any different than the prior sales, except if you bring up a quality item, it tends to shine a little brighter,” said Kerry Cauthen of consignor Four Star Sales. “Those, as they have done in other sales, I expect to sell very well.

“This is the last stop prior to the breeding season, and you definitely tend to get some buyers into the marketplace that realize it is now or forever hold your peace. You do tend to get a bit of a bump in that category, particularly in the quality hips.”

The auction has a solid slate of offerings to contend for the top price, bolstered by the dispersal of Robert Zoellner’s Oklahoma-based Rockin’ Z Ranch.

However, larger catalogs have been a common thread among mixed sales during the 2016-17 auction cycle, and the market regression in recent months has been due to buyer disinterest in fringe commercial horses who might have bypassed the sale ring in previous years.

Getting those horses sold has become more difficult, a challenge compounded by this sale’s larger catalog.

“I think it’ll probably be a continuation of what happened at Keeneland January and what happened at OBS,” said Derek MacKenzie of Vinery Sales, which will handle the Rockin’ Z dispersal. “There are too many horses in general right now. The quality will be fine – in this particular sale, I think they’ll sell well – but it does get tricky to find buyers for every horse. I’m hoping that I’m wrong and that every horse that goes through gets sold and finds a home, but I don’t think that’s plausible.”

Last year’s auction saw 341 horses sold for $8,260,600, a 22 percent decline in gross from the previous year. The average sale price finished down 7 percent at $24,225, the median was down 21 percent at $9,500, and the buyback rate closed at 22 percent.

Grade 3 winner Flashy American topped the 2016 sale, selling to Blue Sky Stable for $395,000. The daughter of Flashy Bull was offered in foal to Orb.

The top yearling was a first-crop Violence colt who went to Marc Ricker, agent, for $100,000. The colt was out of the Grade 3-placed With Approval mare Bala and is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Bay to Bay.