09/25/2014 4:10PM

Fasig-Tipton Midlantic: Yearling sale showcases regional power

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The Mid-Atlantic region is one of the most diverse in the North American racing landscape, featuring numerous states with lucrative programs for horses foaled on their soil.

As such, the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale features a wide array of offerings from various states and for various levels of buyers.

The one-day sale will be held Sept. 29 at Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic facility at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern. This year’s edition features a catalog of 450 yearlings, 15 percent more than in 2013.

“I’m excited by the number of hips that we have to offer this year,” said Paget Bennett, Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic sales director. “Our sale has results with getting runners, and people do well whether they are end users or pinhookers. There are good horses being offered in this marketplace.”

Yearlings from nine different states or provinces are cataloged for this year’s renewal, with the bulk coming from Pennsylvania (132), Maryland (126), and New York (98).

“There’s just so many good racing areas,” Bennett said. “Everything is so strong, and we just have people come from all over. They come in from the West Coast. If they look at the book and see something they’re interested in, they’ll find a way. If they don’t come in themselves, they’ll have somebody else check them out for them.”

Maryland had the greatest growth in the number of yearlings cataloged, up 45 percent from 87 in last year’s book. Maryland has seen a boost in the commercial value of its statebreds since the 2013 implementation of a plan to funnel 7 percent of the state’s revenue from video lottery terminals toward purses and breeders’ incentives. Bonuses are expected to continue their growth in 2015.

Most of the states in the region have benefitted from expanded gaming, including New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware, but as the most recent state to bolster its incentives, as well as the home state of the auction, the Maryland program was on the minds of many headed to the sale.

“I do think it is a good time to sell a Maryland-bred,” said consignor Bill Reightler, who has 29 Maryland-breds in the catalog. “The racing is strong, and our statebred program is as strong as we can make it, so I do think we’re going to have a pretty good sale.”

While the statebred programs may get some buyers through the door, Reightler was quick to note that a yearling’s conformation and pedigree must be up to standard, regardless of where the horse was foaled. Well-bred, well-conformed horses, he said, don’t slip through the cracks.

“Ultimately, it’s all about the horse,” he said. “People are there to find the best horse. The one nice thing about the location of the sale is we are right in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic, so we will get buyers, owners, and trainers from those geographic areas. Naturally, they know what’s going on with each or their own statebred programs, so that’s an enticement, but No. 1, they’re there to buy the best physical horse.”

Stuart Morris has a sextet of yearlings cataloged in the sale whom he will consign as agent. Four are New York-breds, and two are Kentucky-breds.

“I hope the sale has a little more depth in its buyer base than last year, but traditionally, if you go there every year in and out, you’re rewarded,” Morris said. “I think it’s a pretty reliable market. Another year of the Maryland-bred incentive program is going to help. Overall, it’s going to be positive. I’m going to bring a better group of horses than I did last year, and I think I’ll be rewarded.”

While there is a definite sense of optimism heading into the Midlantic yearling sale, there is also a degree of uncertainty. Some auctions have seen improved numbers this year, while others have seen declines.

On one end of the spectrum, the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred preferred yearling sale posted healthy gains in average and median prices this year. On the other end, the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. August yearling sale finished with lower figures, though its open session was coming off a record performance in 2013. Those two sales are arguably the closest counterparts to the Midlantic auction to have already been held in 2014.

Those results did not sway Morris, who said it was important to focus on the market’s history over the long term, and not just any single year.

“The OBS sale really wasn’t bad,” Morris said. “I sold very well down there, and it’s still a very reliable market, like it always is. In my opinion, OBS fell back in conjunction to where it should have progressed from 2012 to 2013. [Last year] was a humongous spike from the previous sale regarding numbers, but I think it was unrealistic for anyone to think that sale could maintain that level of power. They still finished ahead of the 2012 numbers, so I think it was a positive sale.

“I’m not concerned at all about going to Maryland,” he added. “There’s always money in those spots, and you can always do well.”

Last year’s Midlantic sale saw gains across the board, with 289 yearlings changing hands for revenue of $7,469,900. That marked a 21 percent increase in gross compared with 2012.

The average and median sale prices were the highest posted at the auction in the past decade. The $25,847 average price was 16 percent better than the previous year’s figure, while the median rose 42 percent.

A Quality Road colt topped the 2013 sale, going to Bortolazzo Stables for $250,000. The colt is out of the winning French Deputy mare Chalonnaise, whose runners include Grade 3-placed stakes winner Nathan’s H Q. Chalonnaise has a Hard Spun filly in this year’s auction.
Now named Jambles, the colt is in training at Monmouth Park and is working toward his first start.