Updated on 09/15/2011 1:35PM

Fasig-Tipton numbers buck economy


Maybe it had to do with the weather. Unseasonably balmy temperatures ushered in the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Mixed sale held Dec. 2 and 3 at Timonium. And sales figures displayed a warming trend that was just as out of the ordinary.

"I wish I knew," said Mason Grasty, executive vice-president of Fasig-Tipton Midlantic, when asked about the phenomenon.

Although 20 percent fewer horses changed hands compared with last year (448 vs. 566), the gross of $3,530,500 was a decline of only 18 percent, and the overall average rose 3 percent, to $7,881. The median price remained virtually unchanged, at $3,200.

The weanling market in particular spun upward, with an average 9 percent higher than last year1s number. In all, 190 weanlings brought $1,696,400 to average $8,928.

"The perception was that this was a very nice group of weanlings," said Grasty, "although there's no definitive way to compare them in terms of pedigree or physicals."

The racehorse section vaulted over the top, recording a 91 percent increase in average ($7,041) for 34 head sold. Reasonably priced race-ready horses have been selling very well at recent Timonium auctions, Grasty noted: "Instant gratification is an important factor. A lot of people are willing to pay extra for a horse who can give them some fun right now, instead of waiting two or three years down the road."

Demand for broodmares didn't match that of the younger horses; still, the average for 190 broodmares, broodmare prospects and two stallions sold on the first day represented a slight increase.

"We were very pleasantly surprised. Few people expected the sale to be up in any category." In fact, said Grasty, based upon the economy, world events, and what happened at recent sales in Kentucky and Florida, "most people predicted a 30 to 40 percent decline."

Weanlings accounted for two of the three highest prices, with one of Timonium's most loyal and deep-pocketed buyers, bloodstock agent Buzz Chace, purchasing them both from the consignment of local agent Don Litz. Chace signed the ticket for the $100,000 sale-topper, a Maryland-bred Citidancer filly bred and owned in partnership by Litz and his longtime client Joseph Keelty. Litz bought the filly's dam, Majestic Dream (by Majestic Light), for $50,000, in foal to Roy, at the 1998 Keeneland November sale, and sold the resulting offspring at last year's edition of this sale for $42,000. Majestic Dream, a stakes winner of $72,987, produced the sales-topper as her third foal.

The second-highest-priced weanling, at $80,000, was a daughter of Two Punch out of the Mt. Livermore mare Texas Cinema, dam of multiple stakes winner Cinemine and the up-and-coming 2-year-old filly Flick (by Dehere), winner of the Nov. 25 Pontalba Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Chace bought the Citidancer filly on behalf of Raymond Dweck, and the Two Punch filly for Ernie Paragallo. Both were purchased as racing (rather than pinhooking) prospects, according to Chace.

As expected, horses from the estate of long-prominent Maryland breeder Nancy Bayard, sold by Russell and Richard Jones's Walnut Green, contributed significantly to the quality of the sale. Bayard's homebred Buckles and Kinks (by Waquoit-Rolling Mill, by Hagley) was the top-priced broodmare, bringing $90,000 on a bid by Virginian Edward F. Schuler. Buckles and Kinks, sold in foal to Concern, is a half-sister to five stakes horses, and produced as her first foal the current top Maryland-bred 2-year-old filly, Bronze Abe, winner of Laurel Park's Heavenly Cause Stakes and runner-up in the Maryland Million Lassie.

Twenty-five horses sold for $30,000 or more, and 14 brought at least $40,000.