02/26/2003 12:00AM

Fasig-Tipton sale posts similar figures to 2002

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MIAMI - Fasig-Tipton's select 2-year-old sale at Calder ended almost level with last year's results, but produced a higher top price when a Tale of the Cat colt brought $1.4 million from bloodstock agent Demi O'Byrne.

Last year's sale-topper was a $1 million Seeking the Gold colt.

The Tale of the Cat colt and a $1 million Storm Cat filly were the auction's two million-dollar lots, and eight others brought $500,000 or more. Those figures helped the auction maintain figures similar to last year's.

Overall, the 2003 auction sold 139 lots for a total of $29,077,000, down slightly from last year's $29,479,000 gross for the same number sold. The average slipped 2 percent, falling from $212,079 to $209,187, and the median plummeted more, 14 percent, to its 2001 level of $150,000.

The results were marred by a 43 percent buyback rate and a high number of withdrawals, but the high buyback rate actually was a slight improvement over last year's 45 percent rate.

Robert Scanlon, agent, sold the sale-topping Tale of the Cat colt. The chestnut colt is out of stakes winner Satin Sunrise (Mr. Leader), making him a half-brother to Grade 3 winner French Satin. A partnership including Scanlon purchased the colt for $100,000 at a Fasig-Tipton fall yearling auction last year.

The Tale of the Cat colt's $1.4 million sale was one of several highly successful pinhooking efforts at the sale. The auction's top-priced filly was a $1 million daughter of Storm Cat and Sun Blush that trainer LeRoy Jolley bought for an undisclosed partnership. The filly had brought just $115,000 as a Keeneland September yearling last year. Danny Pate's Solitary Oak agency consigned the filly on behalf of Kathleen Schonefeld, Rick Embert, and Roger Baugh.

Those home run hits were part of a larger trend of profitability, according to Fasig-Tipton official Boyd Browning. Browning said the average yearling purchase price of the Calder horses dropped 22 percent this year, down from $96,323 to $74,909. That was a sign that even with a dropping average, many sellers were making money on reselling horses they bought as yearlings.

"Profit was up, and that's what we're about," Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson said. But Robertson acknowledged that the boutique 2-year-old marketplace remains highly selective.

"If you've got a horse they like, they'll give you everything you want and more," Robertson said. "If you've got a horse they're not on, they won't give you half of what you want."

Sale-topping consignor Scanlon agreed. "You've got to get realistic when you set your reserve," he said. "The buyers are there for the $100,000 horse, but you'd better not think your $100,000 horse is worth $150,000."