10/22/2014 9:24PM

Fasig-Tipton October: Records fall in closing session

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The profile of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale as a destination event for sellers and buyers alike continued to gain traction during the 2014 renewal, setting records in gross, average, and median prices for a fourth straight year.

The three-day auction, which is the final stop on the major North American yearling sale calendar, saw 837 horses sold for revenues of $30,006,200. That figure surpassed last year’s record gross of $27,908,000 from 818 sold by eight percent.

This year’s auction had two sessions that each individually out-grossed the final returns from 15 of the past 20 renewals of the October sale. The sale out-grossed every edition from 2001 to 2004 combined, and separately every October sale between 2008 and 2010.

“Obviously, it was a very good horse sale,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning Jr. “Clearly, the October sale has established an important place on the calendar for buyers and sellers alike, and overall, we’re very, very happy.”

The average sale price set a new high-water mark of $35,850, up five percent from $34,117 in 2013, while the median rose nine percent from $17,000 to $18,500 to establish an October sale record. Each edition of the Fasig-October sale since 2011 has set new records in the three major monetary indicators.

The buyback rate finished at 21 percent, up five percentage points from last year’s sale, which posted a 16 percent buyback rate.

The top of the market continued to see growth during this year’s renewal of the October sale, with 70 yearlings hammering for six figures, up from 59 last year. Twenty offerings brought $200,000 or more, surpassing the 15 horses to do so in 2013.

The rapid improvement of the October sale’s performance in recent years was not lost on Browning.

“In 2010, the sale average was $13,616, the median price was $5,000, and the gross was $9.3 million,” he said. “It’s pretty remarkable to think when you go from those levels over a five-year period of time to $30 million in gross, an average of $36,000 and a median knocking on the door of $20,000, which is essentially tripling the average and quadrupling the median.

“It’s the sign of a dramatic change in this market, which is quite simple – Our consignors are bringing us a dramatically better horse,” he continued. “There are quality horses that have been sold at this sale, and are going to continue to be sold at this sale, and it’s indicative of the racetrack performance and the horses that are on the cover [of the catalog] and have been on the cover for this sale in recent years.”

The sale’s highest-priced offering came during Wednesday’s third and final session, a Tapit filly whose siblings include Grade 2 winner and young sire Desert Party, going to Conquest Stables for $410,000.

Bred in Kentucky by Steven Sinatra and David Smith, the bay filly is out of the winning Tabasco Cat mare Sage Cat, whose five winners from as many foals to race also include stakes winner Elliecat. She is from the extended family of Grade 2 winner Good and Tough and Grade 3 winner Amy Be Good.

The filly will be trained by Mark Casse when she reaches racing age.

“She really looks like she could be a racehorse,” said Peter O’Callaghan of consignor Woods Edge Farm. “She’s very correct and very athletic, and beautifully made. She’s beautifully made and she’s by the best sire in the country. For big outfits like [Conquest Stables], it makes sense.”

The transaction marked a successful pinhook for O’Callaghan’s Woods Edge Farm, which purchased the filly for $300,000 as a weanling at last year’s Keeneland November breeding stock sale. The filly was offered at this year’s Keeneland September yearling sale, but was bought back with a final bid of $325,000.

“It’s a relief that she got sold,” O’Callaghan said. “We’d given a lot of money for her as a weanling and for some reason it just didn’t work in September. She was really well-admired in September and was vetted maybe four or five times, but she was early in the sale and there were [over 50] Tapits in Book 1. It was maybe a lot of other Tapits of her mold coming behind her, and she just missed.

“She also did really well in the five or six weeks from September to now,” O’Callaghan continued. “She grew nicely and got stronger. A lot of the same people that liked her in September liked her here. Mark Casse vetted her in September and liked her, and obviously he liked her here.”

At the drop of the hammer, the filly became the second-most expensive foal out of Sage Cat to sell at public auction, trailing Desert Party, who brought $425,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September sale and later sold for $2.1 million at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of selected 2-year-olds in training. Grade 2-winning juvenile Desert Party, whose first foals are 2-year-olds of this year, is New York’s current leading freshman sire.

Wednesday’s session closed with the highest single-session gross in October sale history, moving 292 horses for $10,632,900. That represented a one percent increase from last year’s final session, which set the previous single-day record of $10,524,600 from 287 sold.

The average sale price for Wednesday’s session declined 0.7 percent from $36,671 to $36,414, while the median increased five percent from $19,000 to $20,000. The buyback rate rose to 15 percent after finishing at 14 percent in 2013.