Updated on 07/10/2012 7:52PM

Fasig-Tipton sale posts gains

Photo by Z/Keeneland
This yearling son of Malibu Moon sold for $375,000 to a group that will race with trainer Ken McPeek.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Fasig-Tipton's bellwether July select yearling sale justified pre-sale optimism Tuesday when it began the select yearling sale season with a higher sale-topping price and gains in gross receipts and average price, despite a predictably selective buying public.The sale-topper at Tuesday's one-day sale in Lexington was a $375,000 Malibu Moon colt that trainer Ken McPeek signed for on behalf of Magic City Thoroughbred Partners. CandyLand Farm consigned the dark bay colt, who broke last year's market ceiling of $310,000.

The one-day auction sold 189 yearlings - nearly the same as last year, when 191 sold - but saw gross receipts rise by 15 percent to $15,364,000. The average also grew by 16 percent to $81,291, and the $60,000 median was level with last year's figure.

The bad news came in the buy-backs. The percentage of horses who failed to reach their reserves also went up, from 27 percent last year to 33 percent, and 55 horses scratched from the sale.

For commercial Thoroughbred breeders, the fact that the sale-topping colt's buyer, Magic City, is relatively new was even more heartening than the price.

Carter Stewart, who McPeek said is involved in the oil and gas business, heads up the Montana-based partnership group. The stable races (and McPeek trains) Golden Ticket, a $100,000 Keeneland juvenile who finished second this year in the Tampa Bay Derby.

"He's nice young horse, and that was their first venture in," McPeek said. "They're playing a little bit more. We shortlisted what I called the best colts in the sale, and he's going to focus in on those with us. I told him we need really good horses that compete in places like New York and Breeders' Cup races and the Derby and those races. He's stepping up - it's a great thing."

The colt is out of a stakes-placed Wild Again mare who McPeek trained, Uncontrollable. The mare, now 11, won one of her six starts and finished second three times. She sustained an injury when she ran second in the 2003 Top Flight Stakes at Arlington and took a year off, but she never regained her old form.

"That was disappointing," McPeek said. "We thought she was going to be a good horse, and she just was unlucky. Hopefully, he's luckier than she was. She's certainly stamping her foals."

One other yearling sold for $300,000 or more. That was Hip No. 104, a $300,000 War Front-With Golden Wings colt that IEAH Sales bought from the Hunter Valley Farm agency.

The auction got off to a balky start when half of the first 44 horses through the ring went unsold. Selling picked up as the auction rolled into the late afternoon, and some sellers converted buy-backs into private sales as they came to terms with bidders after the hammer.

Trainer Mark Casse took the early lead among buyers after he paid $250,000 for the Baccari Bloodstock agency's Afleet Alex-Rhythm Gal colt and $50,000 for the St. George agency's Bluegrass Cat-Sancoin colt.

"I thought that was a fair amount of money for him," Casse said of the Afleet Alex colt. "I thought maybe he'd sell a little cheaper. A lot of times I'm not crazy about the Afleet Alexes, but I really liked him. He reminds me of Uncaptured, a really good colt I have right now who's 2 for 2. He looks just like Uncaptured. That never hurts."

What also didn't appear to be hurting Casse yet was the proposed withdrawal of slot machine from Ontario racetracks, including Woodbine, a key stop for Casse's stable.

"Fortunately, we're kind of spread out everywhere," Casse said of his stable. "I still have hopes. What's going on in Canada is so unbelievable that it can't come true. It would be the biggest injustice, and not just for horse racing but for the entire government process. They've got this deal that's been working, and they've made billions and billions and billions of dollars. If they shut down the racing, like Woodbine, they'll lose billions of dollars, and they're also going to have about 50,000 people out of work.

"Woodbine's become a big factor for us," he added. "It definitely would hurt us. But we were in Kentucky this year, we went to Miami, now slowly we're going into New York. We're trying for the most part to race on the top level, and when you do that, you have to race everywhere."

Casse came back to pick up a pair of $270,000 Sky Mesa yearlings, one a colt out of Dance Fever from the Gainesway agency and the other a daughter of Our Fantene from Joe Dodgen, agent. Casse also bought a $110,000 Malibu Moon filly out of Beautiful Ballerina that Paramount Sales consigned, a $100,000 Birdstone-Anyhow colt that the Brookdale Sales agency sold on behalf of Jack Swain, and a $160,000 Flower Alley-Gypsy Chimes colt Keith Lancaster consigned for Cardinal Venture II.

Among the other horses who sold, either in the ring or afterwards, for $200,000 or more were two yearlings who were the only representatives for their sires. Hip No. 299 was the auction's lone Tapit colt, a Gainesway-consigned son of Muir Station who brought $280,000 from Bradley Thoroughbreds. The other was Hip No. 234, a $250,000 Bernardini-Hishi Aspen colt who was his sire's only representative here. Yearling-to-juvenile resellers Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds bought him from the Taylor Made agency. Others were Hip No. 261, a $250,000 Old Fashioned-Lady Rushmoore colt that Jay Em Ess Stable acquired from Eaton Sales, agent;  Hip No. 286, a Malibu Moon-Meadow Soprano filly that John Fort bought from Spendthrift (Paramount Sales, agent); Hip No. 213, a $210,000 Proud Citizen-Gallant Dreamer colt that Nick De Meric, agent, bought from Airdrie Stud, agent; Hip No. 90, a $205,000 More Than Ready-Victoire Bataille colt that Tim Kegel, agent, bought from Michael and Julia O'Quinn's agency; Hip No. 1, a $200,000 Colonel John-Racing Quality filly that Bluewater Sales agency sold to David Scanlon, agent for Gotham Boys; Hip No. 73, a $200,000 Dixie Union-Thedamewantstowin filly that IEAH Sales picked up from Dromoland Farm's agency; Hip No. 308, a $200,000 Forestry-Normandy's Nell filly that Cheyenne Stables purchased from Normandy Farm (Warrendale, agent); and Hip No. 308, a $200,000 Bellamy Road-North East Star filly that Landaluce Educe Stables bought from the Eaton Sales agency.