03/02/2016 11:04PM

Prices surge at Fasig-Tipton Florida sale; Tapit colt brings $1.8 million

Barbara D. Livingston
This Tapit colt topped Wednesday's sale at $1.8 million.

The sophomore jinx was nonexistent for the second edition of the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of  2-year-olds in training held at Gulfstream Park, with massive gains across the board, including a higher-priced sale-topper than the inaugural edition at the location.

The boutique sale, which kicks off the juvenile auction calendar, saw 66 horses sold Wednesday for $21,590,000, the auction’s highest gross since 2010 and a 7 percent increase from the 2015 sale, where 89 horses brought $20,095,500.

The average sale price rose 45 percent from $225,792 to $327,121, the highest figure since 2013. The median closed at $250,000, up 92 percent from last year’s figure of $130,000. It marked the highest median since 2013 and tied for the second-highest figure of the past decade.

Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning was pleased with the returns.

“I think we saw a continuation of the same trends we’ve seen in recent months and recent years in the Thoroughbred industry: Tremendous demand for what were perceived to be the quality offerings tonight and less demand than you would have hoped for on those horses that may not have worked as well or had a veterinary issue,” Browning said. “The buying public is very demanding, but they’re also willing to pay for the horses they deem desirable.”

The buyback rate closed at 31 percent, down from last year’s figure of 33 percent.

At the top of the market, four horses changed hands for seven figures, compared to one to do so last year. Eleven horses brought $500,000 or more, trailing the 14 to meet that threshold in 2015, while the 35 juveniles who brought $250,000 or more bettered the 29 to draw that much last year.

“You saw a lot of interest at the top of the market from a bunch of different people,” Browning said. “We don’t live in a world where there’s only one or two groups buying at the top end. There are a lot of people that are willing to give you $500,000 or more for a good horse.”

The inaugural Gulfstream sale produced a strong group of graduates, including champion Nyquist and Grade 1 winner Mor Spirit. Browning said those results, paired with the comfort of having already had a sale go off without a hitch in the Gulfstream walking ring, helped bring out buyers, sellers, and horses who might have sat on the sidelines for the venue’s debut sale.

“I think by producing a successful sale in the ring last year and producing successful results on the racetrack, it provided a higher level of confidence for the 2016 sale,” Browning said. “I sure hope that we’ll have a higher level of confidence in 2017 based on the results in the 2016 sales ring.

“We’re committed to this long-term, and I think it’s an extremely important element of the North American marketplace.”

A colt by two-time leading sire Tapit topped the sale, going for $1.8 million to bloodstock agent David Ingordo, signing the ticket for Bill Farish, Ben Haggin’s Woodford Racing, and Robert LaPenta. The colt was the most expensive offering sold at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale since a Bernardini colt brought the same price in 2013.

Bred in Florida by Sienna Farms, the colt is the third foal out of the unraced Giant’s Causeway mare Bethan, who is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner and popular Kentucky stallion Hard Spun as well as stakes winner Our Rite of Spring and stakes-placed Wild Current. Bethan has produced one runner, the placed Smart Strike colt Sierra Tango.

It is the extended family of Kentucky Derby winner and champion Chateaugay and dual classic winner and champion Little Current. More recent standouts from the family include Grade 1 winner Drill.

"It's a very rare offering that you have a horse that's that good looking with that much pedigree that comes to a 2-year-old sale,” Ingordo said. “When they perform like that, that's the kind we have to buy for our down-the-road project, which is to have a stallion.”

The colt was consigned by Old South Farm as agent. He worked a furlong in 10.20 seconds during Monday's under-tack show, one-fifth of a second off the top times. The colt had been bought back for $1.2 million at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale.

"I saw him at the [yearling] sales, but he's changed a lot,” Ingordo said. “He's improved. He grew, filled out. He became more of a man.”

Ingordo said the colt will be sent to trainer Chad Brown to begin his career.

There was a trio of $1 million colts sold earlier in the day.

Stonestreet Stables and M.V. Magnier struck first, purchasing a colt by Coolmore’s Ashford Farm stallion Uncle Mo. The colt is out of the stakes-winning Two Punch mare Five Star Dream and was consigned by Cary Frommer as agent. The two entities partnered on Fountain of Youth Stakes runner-up Zulu at last year’s Florida sale.

Magnier later secured a Pioneerof the Nile colt out of the Mr. Greeley mare Faith In Me. Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds consigned the colt as agent. Pioneerof the Nile is the sire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum went to $1 million for a Curlin colt out of the winning A.P. Indy mare On a Roll, whose produce includes stakes-placed Free Money. Bob Baffert will train the colt, who was consigned by Wavertree Stables as agent.

For complete sale results, click here.

--additional reporting by Nicole Russo