03/31/2017 2:56PM

Optimism for Texas juvenile sale

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While it’s a completely unscientific measurement, the number of catalog requests Tim Boyce received for the Texas Thoroughbred Association’s sale of 2-year-olds in training gave him reason for optimism heading into the auction’s second edition.

“We’ve had more requests than I’ve ever had out of this office in 20 years of being here, which blew my mind a bit,” the TTA sales director said, “but it doesn’t surprise me because the market’s getting stronger for top-end horses, and I think people are seeing some top-end horses in this sale and thinking they might come down.”

The auction will take place Tuesday at noon Central at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie. The presale under-tack show will be held Sunday at 11 a.m.

This year’s catalog includes 104 entries, marking a 30 percent growth from last year’s inaugural sale, which had 80.

Boyce, who served as Fasig-Tipton’s Texas sales director for two decades before the auction company closed the branch in mid-2015, said this year’s catalog was stronger than the debut effort.

Part of the improvement was due to rebuilding trust as the auction duties transferred from Fasig-Tipton to the TTA. There were stumbles along the way, but with a year’s worth of successful auctions under its belt, the TTA’s profile as an auction house has clearly grown within the regional and national scenes.

“There was a hiccup in the transition from Fasig-Tipton being here and not being here where the TTA had to cancel its first yearling sale, and that hurts the market immensely,” Boyce said. “After all the years of accumulation of credibility, I had to start at zero. I think there was some hesitancy last year, our entries were low, but given Texas racing and everything around here, it was actually not bad.”

Among the catalog’s highlights is the continued dispersal of Robert Zoellner’s Rockin’ Z Ranch, which features five Oklahoma-bred juveniles consigned by Pike Racing as agent. The horses were cataloged for the February Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale, where the bulk of the stock was dispersed, but were scratched before arriving on the grounds.

Graduates of the sale are eligible for the male or female divisions of the Texas Thoroughbred Sales Futurities, which will be held at Lone Star, each for an estimated $100,000 purse.

Last year’s inaugural TTA juvenile sale finished with 53 horses sold for $981,300. The average sale price was $18,515, the median closed at $12,000, and the buyback rate settled at 20 percent.

The sale-topper was a Too Much Bling filly, later named Bling on the Music, who sold to Danny Keene for $95,000. The filly has become the sale’s most successful graduate on the racetrack, winning the Gold Rush Futurity at Arapahoe Park and the Texas Thoroughbred Futurity at Lone Star, then finishing third in the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs later in the season.

Other successful graduates from last year’s sale include stakes winners Country Candy and Shaded.

Hips to watch

Following are horses to watch at the Texas Thoroughbred Association’s sale of 2-year-olds in training, based on their pedigrees, past auction performances, and notable family members. Presale under-tack-show performance, conformation, physical characteristics, veterinarian records, and late pedigree updates were not taken into consideration.

Hip No. 26, Blended Lute, b. c., Midnight Lute—Yoursmineours, by Belong to Me, consigned by Benchmark Training Center, agent

Multiple stakes winner Yoursmineours’s six foals to race are all winners, including Grade 3 winner Shared Property and stakes winner Whiskey Romeo. The colt sold for $80,000 at last year’s Keeneland September yearling sale.

Hip No. 47, Quality Cure, dk. b. or br. f., Quality Road—Deputy Cures Blues, by War Deputy, consigned by Frederick Sales & Racing, agent for Steve Baker

Grade 1-placed multiple stakes winner Wine Police is a half-sibling to this filly, as is stakes-placed Moon Traveler.

Hip No. 65, b. c., Artie Schiller—Joustabout, by Apalachee, consigned by Inside Move Inc.

A full brother to multiple Grade 2 winner Mr. Commons and a half to Grade 3-placed stakes winner Jungle Fighter.

Hip No. 66, b. c., Euroears—Key Cents, by Corridor Key, consigned by Twin Oaks Training Center, agent

Half-sister Rebridled Dreams is a Grade 2-placed stakes winner and the dam of Grade 1 winners Carpe Diem and J. B.’s Thunder, multiple Grade 2 winner Farrell, Group 3-placed stakes winner Doncaster Rover, and Grade 2-placed Semper Fortis.

Hip No. 96, Sydney Freeman, dk. b. or br. f., Tizway—Peach Brew, by Milwaukee Brew, consigned by Pike Racing, agent for the dispersal of Rockin’ Z Ranch

The second foal out of Grade 3 winner Peach Brew, whose first foal is placed in two of three starts. Peach Brew is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner She’s All In.