10/21/2016 10:46AM

Fasig-Tipton October becoming pipeline for regional buyers


The Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale is the last major stop on the North American yearling auction calendar, and it has come to serve a number of purposes for sellers.

For some, the October sale is the initial target for late-blooming youngsters or horses who might better stand out in that marketplace. Others use the venue as a final opportunity to move a horse scratched or bought back earlier in the season before moving on to the juvenile sales or the racetrack. The October sale also has become a popular venue for horsemen in states near Kentucky to buy and sell for their regional programs.

The sale will take place Monday through Wednesday at Fasig-Tipton’s Newtown Paddocks base in Lexington, Ky. The sale has 1,250 entries, down 16 percent from last year’s record of 1,485, and returns to its usual run of three days after expanding to four in 2015. Each session begins at 10 a.m. Eastern.

“I think we’ve got a really good catalog,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “We’ve seen a pretty healthy and stable yearling marketplace throughout 2016. It was encouraging, the trends we saw in Maryland in the Midlantic sale. The sale continues to produce really high-caliber runners in the United States and abroad, so there is something for everybody at the October sale.”

Consistent with most major North American auctions, the catalog skews overwhelmingly toward Kentucky-breds, with 73 percent of the horses entered having been born in the state. However, the October sale also has carved out a niche as the primary commercial outlet for regional breeding programs in Midwestern states surrounding Kentucky, similar to the way the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales in Maryland serve other statebred programs in the area.

The October sale catalog offers more horses bred in Ohio (35), Indiana (32), and Illinois (17) than any other yearling-exclusive auction in North America. Of those three states, only Indiana hosts a local yearling auction.

“It’s easier for folks to attend the sale who race in those areas, and you see more crossover from trainers that race on a regional basis,” Browning said. “Those statebred programs certainly give you more options that are very attractive and some purse-earning opportunities that are significant.”

Kimpton Williams of Fair Winds Farm in Waynesville, Ohio, has a quartet of homebreds entered in the October sale, all by stallions in his barn. Ohio has enjoyed a resurgence in racing and breeding interest following the approval of expanded gaming.

“Buyers don’t care where the horse was born if it’s a nice animal,” Williams said. “They see this program, and it’s finally a fun place to race a horse again.”

Williams said the growth of Ohio’s racing program could lead to a revival of yearling sales there, but he preferred selling at the Kentucky sales to get the most and the highest-level buyers possible to look at his horses.

“You’re not going to get those types of buyers to come to a little horse sale in wherever we had it in Ohio, in my opinion,” he said. “Why not take your horse to Keeneland or Fasig-Tipton to showcase them where the buyers are? I don’t think people are going to drag up [to Ohio] to look at a hundred horses when they could look at a few thousand or more.”

Browning said Fasig-Tipton has not gone out of its way to establish the October sale as a destination for Midwestern statebred programs, but the auction’s returns, including record numbers in gross, average and median each year from 2011 to 2014, have brought sellers to the auction regardless of their origin.

“I think you’re always trying to recruit horses,” he said. “I think ultimately what works is the ability to demonstrate success for people to have a good sale and be able to rely on it from year to year and have positive results, and as a result of that have repeat business and repeat customers.”

Last October’s sale finished with 854 horses sold for $29,369,300, down 2 percent from the 2014 record gross of $30,006,200. The average sale price fell 4 percent to $34,390 from a record $35,850, while the median declined 19 percent to $15,000 from an all-time high of $18,500. The buyback rate finished at 31 percent.

John Oxley bought last year’s sale-topper, a $410,000 Tapit colt out of the Grade 3-placed stakes-winning Smart Strike mare Apple Charlotte. Now named Dance Strike, the colt spent the summer working at Saratoga but has yet to start.

The 2015 October sale also produced La Coronel, the winner of the Grade 3 Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 12. The Colonel John filly sold to Teresa and David Palmer as agent for $37,000 and was later pinhooked.