05/17/2016 11:50AM

Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale continues to grow

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

Dortmund, a 2-year-olds in training sale graduate, racked up multiple Grade 1 wins en route to a third-place finish in last year’s Kentucky Derby. Later in May, 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.

The good fortune has carried into 2016, with Cathryn Sophia, a Maryland-bred yearling graduate from the Midlantic auction house, winning the Kentucky Oaks.

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

“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.”

:: DRF BREEDING LIVE: Real-time coverage and video of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale

The two-day auction will take place at 10 a.m. Eastern on Monday and Tuesday at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. The presale under-tack show spans three days, from May 17-19.

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, growing 21 percent from the 485 horses that comprised last year’s book.

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

Crane said the venue’s built-in population restrictions also can help a horse stand out where they may not 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 slight decline from the 37 percent of last year’s catalog born in one of those states.

The Midlantic sale pavilion also is 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 edition of the 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 by 49 percent and besting the former record set in 2013. The median rose 29 percent to a new high-water mark of $40,000, equaling the high point also set in 2013. The buyback rate remained fairly 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, agent.

The filly was later named Garnet and placed in the West Coast barn of Simon Callaghan, where she has placed in 2 of 5 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.”