08/06/2012 10:23PM

Fasig-Tipton: Two seven-figure colts can't rescue first session of select yearling sale

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Barbara D. Livingston
A $1.2 million Street Cry colt out of Serenading tops the first session of the Fasig-Tipton sale.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Sales figures at the Fasig-Tipton yearling auction on Monday night collapsed despite the sale of two million-dollar-plus colts late in the sale.

The two late sales rescued the figures from even more dismal returns, serving to bolster an extremely soft market that seemed to hit its ceiling any time bidding approached $400,000. Prior to the sale of the two colts, the highest-priced horse to sell had been a Tapit filly that brought a final bid of $500,000.

Average price of the 52 horses sold on Monday night was $261,346, a 20.7 percent decline compared to last year’s average of $326,694 on the first night, when 49 horses sold from a smaller catalog. Median fell from $285,000 to $200,000, a drop of 29.8 percent.

Twenty-six horses did not meet their reserves, for a buyback rate of 33 percent. Last year, buyback rate on the first night was 26 percent. Gross fell 16 percent, from $16,155,000 last year on Monday night to $13,590,000 this year.

Though a strong showing on the second night of the sale could help to restore the figures to their 2011 levels, the declines on Monday night underlined the fragility of the bloodstock market despite a steady if not powerful run-up in yearling prices over the last year. That rebound had made breeders and consignors hopeful that the bloodstock market could begin to regain a portion of the ground it lost in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 recession, when auction prices for all bloodstock declined by roughly half.

Boyd Browning, the president of Fasig-Tipton, said he was “disappointed” by the declines in the sales figures but he cautioned that the market could rebound during the second night of the sale.

“It’s only halfway through the sale,” Browning said. “Last year the first night was stronger than the second night. Hopefully in 2012 the second night will be stronger than the first night.”

John Ferguson, the agent for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, signed the ticket for the sale topper, a $1.2 million colt by Street Cry out of Serenading, an A.P. Indy mare who was a Canadian champion. Serenading is out of Daijin, who is out of Passing Mood, a blue-hen mare whose progeny include With Approval and Touch Gold.

Ferguson signed the tickets on four horses for total spending of $2.025 million. Three of the four horses were by stallions that are owned by Sheikh Mohammed, who attended the sale along with his usual entourage. 

Four years ago, Fasig-Tipton was purchased by a close associate of Shiekh Mohammed, and the Dubai-based partnership that now owns the company poured millions into the renovation of the Saratoga facility while attempting to establish a stronger foothold in the U.S. auction market.

The second-highest-priced horse sold on Monday night, a $1.1 million Empire Maker colt, was purchased by Stonestreet Stable and George Bolton, the partnership that raced Curlin through his two Horse of the Year campaigns. The colt is out of Sluice and is a full brother to Mushka, a multiple graded stakes winning filly.