07/16/2009 11:00PM

Fasig-Tipton leads off with a smaller catalog

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's July select yearling sale here Monday and Tuesday leads off the summer auctions with expectations that the yearling market will not change much from 2008.

But at least one thing is already different: Fasig-Tipton's July select catalog is slimmer than last year's, with 494 horses versus 568 in 2008. Lower numbers, especially if buyers like the quality, could help protect the nation's first major select sale from downturns. But Fasig-Tipton officials would not go so far as to predict gains in a general economy that is still struggling.

Last year, Fasig-Tipton's July auction endured a slide. The two-day sale sold 305 yearlings for a total of $28,151,000, a 23-percent drop from 2007's gross. The average price of $92,298 was 10 percent lower than the previous year's figure, and the $75,000 median was down by 6 percent.

The global economic situation has worsened considerably since then. But Fasig-Tipton's president, Boyd Browning, sees some positive news from Thoroughbred auctions during the last 12 months, and he hopes some of those bright spots shed some light on the new yearling season.

"We've seen the introduction of some new participants in the 2-year-old market this year," he said, pointing to Kaleem Shah and Westrock Stables as examples of new upper-level buyers. "I would hope there's a possibility some of those buyers might carry forward into buying yearlings this year."

The catalog begins with 213 yearlings in the company's traditional "new sire showcase," featuring progeny of stallions with their first yearlings or juveniles this season. Several first-time yearling sires are represented by horses with pedigree connections to Grade 1 performers or significant earners.

First Samurai's son of Saunter, selling as Hip No. 6, is a half-brother to Grade 1-placed Squallacious. His Hip No. 143 is the first foal out of major earner Hostility.

Hip No. 81, a Flower Alley filly, is out of Canada's champion juvenile filly, Brusque, and Flower Alley also has a half-brother to Grade 1-placed Big Apple Daddy selling as Hip No. 87, among others.

Congrats has Hip No. 27, a half-brother to major earner Sweet Nanette, while War Front's son Hip No. 35 is a half-brother to Song of Navarone, and his colt selling as Hip No. 199 is a half-sibling to Grade 1-placed Sabatini.

Bernardini has just two colts in the catalog: Hip No. 169 is a three-quarter-brother to Grade 1 winner Indy Five Hundred and to $740,000 earner Delta Princess, while Hip No. 47 is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner My Boston Gal.

Artie Schiller debuts in the sale ring as a sire with four yearlings, among them a son of millionaire Irish Linnet offered as Hip No. 150. Bluegrass Cat has Hip No. 171, a half-brother to millionaire Tenpins. Badge of Silver's first crop includes Hip No. 212, a half-sister to the dam of Grade 1 winner Sugar Shake.

Other first-time yearling sires in the catalog include A. P. Warrior, Aragorn, Bandini, Bellamy Road, Borrego, Forest Grove, Sharp Humor, Silver Train, Henny Hughes, Pomeroy, Rockport Harbor, Star Dabbler, Suave, Unbridled Energy, and With Distinction.

Another young stallion with a notable entry is Strong Hope, whose half-brother to Grade 1 winner Unbridled Belle sells as Hip No. 420.

There are plenty of established sires, too, although some of the most sought-after have only a few entrants - a factor that could drive up the price. A. P. Indy has a single colt: Hip No. 310, the first foal of $809,000 earner Capeside Lady. Smart Strike also has but one, Hip No. 434, a half-brother to Grade 3-placed Typhoon Doby. Distorted Humor has Hip No. 266, a colt out of the Storm Cat mare Whichwaydidshego, and No. 290, a filly out of Grade 3 winner Babae.

The sale starts daily at 10 a.m. at Newtown Paddocks in Lexington.