08/01/2015 2:06PM

Looking ahead on the yearling sales calendar


The lights will barely get a chance to dim in the Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., before the yearling calendar picks right up again.

Just four days after playing host to the Saratoga select yearling sale – the category’s first boutique auction of the season – Fasig-Tipton will conduct its annual New York-bred yearling sale, beginning Aug. 15. The same evening on the opposite coast, Barretts will hold its inaugural summer yearling sale at its new Del Mar location. The action continues from there.

Here is a look at North America’s major yearling sales of 2015, in chronological order, following the Fasig-Tipton August selected yearling sale.

Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale 
Aug. 15-16, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Sessions begin at 7 p.m. Eastern at Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion
2014 topper: $270,000 filly by Lookin At Lucky–Rose Rhapsody, by Pleasant Colony, sold to Whisper Hill Farm

The New York-bred program has been on the rise in recent years, led by runners such as champion turf female Dayatthespa, along with Upstart, International Star, and Tencendur, who were all major players on this year’s Kentucky Derby trail. With statebreds a hot commodity, supply and demand are in play at the Fasig-Tipton sale, where 284 yearlings are cataloged – a 10 percent reduction from a 2014 renewal that saw improved average and median prices.

Fittingly, the first horse cataloged to go through the ring in this year’s renewal is a Majestic Warrior filly who is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Upstart.

First-crop sires represented at this sale include promising young Kentucky stallions such as Bodemeister and classic winners Union Rags and Shackleford – but also a handful of young sires who have gotten their starts in New York, such as Boys At Tosconova, Mission Impazible, Smart Bid, and Soaring Empire.

Barretts select yearling sale
Aug. 15 in Del Mar, Calif.
Session begins 30 minutes after day’s last race at Del Mar

Barretts continues a year of growth and transition with an inaugural summer sale in a fresh location. Earlier this year, the outfit shifted its base from the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, Calif., to Del Mar, beginning with a sale of 2-year-olds in training in May. With the Del Mar summer meeting in full swing, Barretts will get a chance to showcase the operation to a new market. 

Sixty-eight yearlings, stabled in the Del Mar Horse Show Arena adjacent to the sales pavilion, are cataloged for this sale. In addition, there will be an also-eligible list of horses cataloged as Hip No. 70 and higher allowed to enter the sale if a yearling numerically below is withdrawn.

There are seven yearlings in the catalog by one of the state’s perennial leaders, Unusual Heat, the all-time leading sire by California-bred earnings. There also is a pair cataloged from the penultimate crop of state standout Tribal Rule.

California first-crop stallions represented in the sale include champion Acclamation and multiple Grade 1 winner Coil.

Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. August yearling sale
Aug. 25-27 in Ocala, Fla.
Sessions begin at 11 a.m. Eastern at Ocala Breeders’ Sales complex
2014 topper: $230,000 colt by Big Drama–Doc’s Doll, by Out of Place, sold to George Bolton

The OBS August yearling sale is divided into two segments, with a select yearling session comprising 218 cataloged hips Aug. 25 and the open yearling sale the following two days.

The sale is looking to rebound after concluding the 2014 edition with declines in nearly every economic indicator, with those figures off the most during the two open sessions.

The catalog for this year’s renewal features heavy representation from both state stalwarts and rising stars. Florida’s perennial leading sire Wildcat Heir, who died in January, is represented by 16 offerings from his penultimate crop. With Distinction, who assumed the mantle as leading sire, is represented by 10 in the catalog.

Florida’s new yearling sires include Biondetti, represented by a solid 21 offerings from his first crop.

Keeneland September yearling sale
Sept. 14-26 in Lexington, Ky.
Book 1 sessions begin at 11 a.m. Eastern; all other sessions begin at 10 a.m., at Keeneland
2014 co-toppers: $2.2 million colt by War Front–Gold Vault, by Arch, sold to M.V. Magnier; $2.2 million colt by Tapit–Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union, sold to Shadwell Estate Co.

Any market momentum established in August will lead into this benchmark auction, which last year finished with figures among the sale’s all-time best.

The elite Book 1 portion of the auction, which included 13 seven-figure yearlings, posted a 7 percent decrease in gross but bumps of 7 percent and 16 percent in median and average. Despite the gross and average both dipping slightly from 2013 over the sale’s nearly two-week run, Keeneland September still finished with the seventh-highest gross and fifth-highest average in its history. The median tied a record figure established in 2013. 

This year, Keeneland has tweaked its format slightly, with a smaller Book 1 and an earlier break in the schedule. The sale opens with a three-day Book 1 from Sept. 14-16, one day shorter than the 2014 sale and thus with more horses cataloged each day. The auction’s traditional dark day will be Sept. 17, with Books 2 through 6 beginning Sept. 18. Keeneland said the changes were made based on feedback from consignors and buyers who preferred a tighter Book 1 and a smoother transition to Book 2.

Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale
Oct. 6 in Timonium, Md.
At Maryland State Fairgrounds
2014 topper: $260,000 colt by Flatter–American Victory, by Victory Gallop, sold to Hillwood Stable

The Timonium sale is looking to rebound from last year’s across-the-board declines compared with 2013, with the gross dropping 19 percent, the average falling 15 percent, and the median down 41 percent. The buyback rate was 28 percent, up significantly from 14 percent in 2013.

This sale was originally scheduled for Sept. 29 but was shifted back as a result of Labor Day falling later in 2015, causing congestion on the sale calendar.

Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale
Oct. 19-21 in Lexington, Ky.
At Newtown Paddocks
2014 topper: $410,000 filly by Tapit–Sage Cat, by Tabasco Cat, sold to Conquest Stables

This sale has grown in popularity as a destination event in recent years, as illustrated by the fact that each renewal of the sale since 2011 has established records in gross, average, and median. Two of the three sessions in 2014 individually out-grossed the final combined returns from 15 of the last 20 editions of this sale.

Barretts fall yearling sale
Oct. 28 at Del Mar
2014 topper: $175,000 filly by Unusual Heat–Hotlantic, by Stormy Atlantic, sold to Joe Ciaglia

The yearling sale calendar concludes back at Del Mar on the West Coast with a sale that was led by two six-figure offerings in 2014.

Regional sales

California’s action isn’t confined to Del Mar, as the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association will hold its annual Northern California sale of yearlings and horses of racing age Aug. 11 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. The sale is coming off a 2014 renewal that saw soaring figures, with the gross up 141 percent and the average up 109 percent, led by a record-priced $75,000 Forestry colt.

Louisiana will conduct a robust slate of yearling sales in the coming months, with the Breeders Sales Co. of Louisiana’s annual sale set for Sept. 29. The nascent Equine Sales Co. of Louisiana will conduct its third annual consignor-select yearling sale Sept. 2 and an open yearling and mixed sale Oct. 25.

The Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society conducts four yearling or mixed sales in various provinces, highlighted by the Ontario premier yearling sale Sept. 8 at Woodbine. The organization also conducts the Manitoba yearling sale Aug. 23, the British Columbia yearling and mixed sale Sept. 9, and Alberta Thoroughbred sale Sept. 20.

New Mexico’s program has gotten a boost in recent years with popular runners such as the unbeaten Peppers Pride and solid young stallions such as Diabolical entering the state. The annual Ruidoso New Mexico-bred Thoroughbred yearling sale will be held Aug. 22.

Other notable state and regional sales include the Carter Sales Co. Oklahoma City sale of yearlings and horses of racing age Aug. 16, the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association yearling and mixed sale Aug. 18, the Heritage Place Thoroughbred sale in Oklahoma on Oct. 4, and the Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association fall mixed sale Oct. 25.