07/12/2001 11:00PM

Fasig-Tipton sale slimmed down

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The average price at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's July selected yearling sale, which will run on Wednesday and Thursday, has gone from strength to strength in the last five years. In 2000, the two-day auction averaged $77,704, a 4 percent gain from the year before and a notable achievement considering that the company offered 517 yearlings last year, an expansion of 43 percent over the previous catalog.

This year, the company hopes that a slimmed-down catalog will offset the black mark that came out of last year's expanded auction: a high buyback rate of 35 percent, up from 18 percent in 1999. In 2001, Fasig-Tipton has cataloged 427 lots, which may help move sellers' and buyers' appraisals closer.

As always, Fasig-Tipton's July auction will feature a new sire showcase, highlighting young stallions for hips 1-164. Among the sires represented by their first yearlings here are Grade 1 winners Skip Away, Favorite Trick, Gentlemen (Arg), Grand Slam, Anet, Wild Rush, Formal Gold, Indian Charlie, Cape Town, Deputy Commander, Swain (Ire), Touch Gold, Will's Way, and Subordination.

This sale has a good reputation for providing solid racehorses who can provide a positive return on investment, as catalog cover-horse and 2001 Dubai World Cup winner Captain Steve - a $70,000 purchase at the 1998 July sale - illustrates. But, as at other select yearling markets, the upper end at Fasig-Tipton's July sale has produced some heady figures for standouts among the auction's generally middle-class consignments.

Nothing has approached the $1.75 million record set when Formaz sold in 1983, but saletoppers' prices have risen along with the bloodstock market lately. Last year's top price was $525,000 for an Unbridled colt out of the Alleged mare Tom's a La Mode.