10/17/2014 5:43PM

Fasig-Tipton October: Kentucky fall sale concludes yearling calendar


It is no stretch to say that this year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale has a tough act to follow. The previous two editions of North America’s final major yearling sale each posted record highs in gross, average, and median sale prices.

Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning Jr. said he expects the quickly growing sale to continue operating at a high level.

“I think we’ve seen throughout most of 2014 a fairly stable and consistent yearling marketplace,” he said. “It started in July and continued through [recent sales], so I think our expectations would be to have a similar market. It’s hard to tell exactly how the statistics are going to shake out because a few horses upward or downward can influence the average, but overall, I think we can expect to see a similar marketplace in October of 2014 that we saw in October of 2013.”

The sale will take place Monday through Wednesday at Fasig-Tipton’s Newtown Paddocks base in Lexington, Ky., with sessions beginning each day at 10 a.m. Eastern.

A total of 1,238 horses have been cataloged for the sale, marking a 9 percent increase over the 2013 edition. Fasig-Tipton reported 110 horses withdrawn from the sale as of last Wednesday.

“It’s the last yearling sale. People are trying to get horses moved and get horses bought, so hopefully it will be active,” said Hunter Simms of consignor Warrendale Sales. “Each year, the sale has gotten progressively bigger, and I think that it needed to, but over the past few years, [Fasig-Tipton has] made a conscious effort to recruit really hard for that sale, at least for the higher end, to bring those buyers in to look at some of the more powerful pedigrees in the book.”

As the record returns indicate, the October sale has increased its profile dramatically from the days when the phrase “scratch and dent” commonly was used to describe the auction. Kentucky Derby winners Big Brown and Mine That Bird perhaps are the sale’s most famous alumni, but the sale also produced the 2013 Breeders’ Cup winners Goldencents and Ria Antonia as well as 2014 Arlington Million winner Hardest Core.

“I think you build upon success, both in the sales ring from the consignor’s perspective and on the racetrack from the buyer’s perspective,” Browning said. “People can legitimately bring a horse to the October sale that might need a little bit more time or might have had a minor issue that kept them from being [fit] earlier in the year, but more importantly, I think [the October sale attracts] horses that might need a little bit more maturity. Consignors can bring them here and expect to have an outstanding collection of buyers on the sales grounds.”

The October sale also has become a popular destination for regional buyers and sellers. Yearlings foaled in 23 states and provinces, as well as one from Chile, are cataloged.

Bernard McCormack of Cara Bloodstock in Ontario has yearlings foaled in Ontario, Kentucky, and New York cataloged in the sale, some of whom were specifically targeted for this auction. One of the appeals of the sale, he said, is its spot on the calendar in relation to scheduled statebred programs, many of which have showcase days in the early fall. The October dates also fall after many owners have started to earn income from maturing 2-year-olds on the racetrack that they can earmark for yearling purchases.

“The one thing I’ve noticed with our purses [in Ontario] is a lot of the trainers and owners make a lot of money in September and October when their 2-year-olds are racing, so there’s a little more budget for investing later in October,” McCormack said. “The Fasig-Tipton sale works well to that. Once you get into October, you’re looking for next year, psychologically anyway, and if your 2-year-olds are earning and doing well, you probably have a bit more of an idea of what your annual budget’s going to be or how it’s going to end up. It’s a good, strong sale, and it’s great to see it because it increases the options for breeders and when they go to market.”

Last October’s Fasig-Tipton sale moved 818 yearlings for $27,908,000, up 21 percent from the 2012 record of $22,991,600. The average sale price surged 31 percent, from $26,127 to $34,117, while the median rose 33 percent, from $12,750 to $17,000. The buyback rate fell to 16 percent after finishing at 20 percent in 2012.

Topping the sale was a Smart Strike filly who went to Borges Torrealba Holdings for $800,000. It was the second-highest price paid for a yearling at the October sale since 1980. The dark bay or brown filly, now named Bilboquet, is out of the Grade 1-placed stakes winner Handpainted. Bilboquet is unraced through Oct. 13.