05/22/2017 6:23PM

Smart Strike filly brings $525K at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale

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TIMONIUM, Md. – The opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training set the pace with across-the-board gains, led by a $525,000 Smart Strike filly, at the Maryland State Fairgrounds.

A total of 162 juveniles changed hands for gross receipts of $11,537,500 on Monday, according to figures reported by Fasig-Tipton shortly after the close of business. That figure represented a 7.6 percent gain compared with $10,715,700 for 157 sold at the opening session last year.

The average sale price was up 4.3 percent to $71,219 from $68,253. The median price, $40,000, was a 17.6 percent spike from $34,000.

“You try to match what you did [last year] or do better, and exceeding last year was great,” Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales director Paget Bennett said. “Everyone was so positive about what they were bringing. They were so excited about the quality of horses they were bringing. They know what can sell well here.”

The buyback rate finished at an improved 25 percent, down from 31 percent at the 2016 opener. A handful of private sales, transactions negotiated back at the barns after horses failed to meet their reserves in the auction ring, had already been reported Monday evening. Bennett noted that with the juvenile sale season approaching its end, there may be more urgency from consignors to move horses.

"A lot of people don't want to take them back to Florida to go to the [Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s] June sale," she said. "Somebody comes to the barn and wants to do something, they're going to try to make something happen."

Chris Brothers, in the name of his Xavier International Bloodstock, as agent, bid up to $525,000 to acquire Smart Response, a Smart Strike filly who led the session.

The filly, from the penultimate crop of versatile leading sire Smart Strike, was consigned by Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds as agent. She turned in one of the co-fastest one-furlong breezes of last week's under-tack show, going in 10 seconds flat.

"I thought she had one of the best breezes I've ever seen over this track," said Brothers, who purchased the filly on behalf of a partnership. "And it's hard to knock a Smart Strike filly. She has some residual [value] down the road."

Smart Response, bred in Kentucky by Craig Singer, is out of the stakes-winning Cozzene mare Salty Response, the dam of two winners from as many starters. The broodmare is a half-sister to four stakes horses, including multiple graded stakes winner Salty Strike.

Smart Response was a $275,000 purchase by Hartley/De Renzo as a pinhook prospect at last year's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale. She was entered in the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale of 2-year-olds in training in early March but was a late scratch after the breeze show, where she worked a furlong in 10 2/5 seconds over the Gulfstream track. The extra time before coming through the sale ring ultimately worked to her advantage.

"She's grown up some, and she's leveled out," Brothers said. "She was a little hip-high at the sale down there. She's really kept coming into herself."

Smart Response was one of 10 juveniles who fetched prices of $250,000 or higher during the session. She was followed on the leaderboard by a pair of $425,000 fillies by leading juvenile sire Into Mischief. A filly out of the winning Tapit mare Pooh Corner sold to Donato Lanni, as agent for an undisclosed client, after working a quarter-mile in 21 2/5 seconds, tied for the fastest time at that distance. Lanni said the filly will be trained by Bob Baffert. The other Into Mischief filly, out of the Grade 3-placed American Chance mare So Long Sonoma, sold to Jeff Treadway's Speedway Stables.

Bennett said that she is “cautiously optimistic” for how the sale, which has produced seven-figure offerings in each of the past two years, will finish on Tuesday. Offerings set to go through the ring include a Bernardini colt who is a half-brother to Horse of the Year Havre de Grace.

“Everyone is saying that the strength in their consignments happens to fall tomorrow,” she said.

For complete results from the opening session, click here.

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