05/16/2016 1:14PM

Fasig-Tipton Midlantic juvenile sale continues to grow


Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic division has been on a tear over the past year and a half.

Dortmund, a 2-year-old sale graduate, racked up multiple Grade 1 wins and finished third in last year’s Kentucky Derby. Later that month, the 2015 edition of the Midlantic juvenile sale posted the strongest renewal in its history, with record gross, average, and median sale prices and the most expensive horse ever sold at that auction house.

That good fortune carried into 2016, when Cathryn Sophia, a Maryland-bred yearling graduate from the Midlantic auction house, won the Kentucky Oaks.

All of that puts the cards in place for another strong renewal of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training.

“Quite honestly, I think the sale will be better than ever,” said Clovis Crane of consignor Crane Thoroughbreds. “It looks to me like the catalog’s stronger, and seeing the flesh on the grounds, it’s pretty impressive. Every time I look up, I see a horse that catches my eye. It’s exciting to see the other consignors have the confidence with the sale to bring in really good stock.”

The auction will take place May 23-24 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium beginning each day at 10 a.m. Eastern. The presale under-tack show runs from this Tuesday through Thursday.

Riding the momentum of a historic renewal and a strong run of graduates, sellers made the 2016 Midlantic juvenile catalog the biggest since 2011. This year’s auction features 588 juveniles on offer, up 21 percent from 485 in last year’s book.

Paget Bennett, Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales director, said the interest from sellers outnumbered the stabling capacity on the fairgrounds.

“We had a lot more horses submitted for entry than we could catalog, and that’s hard when you have people that want to come to this sale,” she said. “We just had to do certain criteria and put together the best catalog of the entries submitted. I think that worked, but we will find out.”

However, Crane said the venue’s limited capacity can also help a horse stand out more than at a larger sale.

“You don’t get lost,” he said. “Realistically, if you work the sale for a couple days, you can get through and look at all of them and have a good scouting report on what you want to bid on and what your price ranges are.”

While the auction has made great strides in regard to its national profile, the Midlantic juvenile sale remains the primary local source for 2-year-olds in training bred in the region.

Thirty-one percent of the horses in this year’s catalog were bred in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or West Virginia. That marks a mild decline from the 37 percent in last year’s catalog born in those states.

The Midlantic sale pavilion is also located in the heart of a high-density region for racetracks, which includes all of the aforementioned states as well as Delaware.

“Paget Bennett has done a great job of gathering the racing community that’s there,” Crane said. “You have a captive audience of trainers that’s there. They’re all right there within a two- or three-hour radius, which makes it really convenient. It’s an ideal location for a sale.”

Last year’s Midlantic juvenile sale saw 255 horses sold for a record $22,659,000, up 16 percent from the previous year’s gross and surpassing the previous record set in 2006.

The average sale price finished at an all-time high of $88,859, improving 49 percent and besting the former record set in 2013, while the median rose 29 percent to $40,000, equaling the record set in 2013. The buyback rate remained steady, rising from 23 percent to 24 percent.

Ben McElroy purchased the record-setting sale-topper as agent for the Coolmore partnership, a $1.25 million Smart Strike filly out of the stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Crystal Current.

Bred in Kentucky by Southern Equine Stables, the filly was consigned at the Midlantic sale by Eddie Woods as agent.

The filly was later named Garnet and placed in the West Coast barn of Simon Callaghan, where she has placed in two of five starts in Southern California and at Golden Gate Fields.

Though the returns were as high as they’ve ever been for the Midlantic sale, Bennett said she still saw room for growth in the marketplace.

“You just hope that you can repeat,” she said. “Maybe this will be the year that we get two seven-figure horses. You just hope that you can at least match what you did last year, but certainly hope to exceed. Based on the sire power and the horses that we have here, I think there’s a chance that we could do that.”

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