Updated on 09/17/2011 10:59AM

Yearling buyers still wary


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's two-day July yearling sale, which posted losses in its opening session Wednesday, continued Thursday with highly selective buyers spending their money conservatively.

By 5:30 p.m., leader was a $500,000 Mr. Greeley filly that Robert Courtney, representing Jaime Carrion, bought from Mulholland Springs. The daughter of stakes winner Good for Her (by Topsider) is a half-sister to stakes winner Chris's Bad Boy.

The Mr. Greeley filly's price was a substantial drop from Wednesday's sale topper, an $800,000 Fusaichi Pegasus filly out of La Chaposa. Sunland Park owner Stanley Fulton purchased that filly, a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Chaposa Springs and You and I, from Paramount Sales, agent. She last sold at auction as a weanling at Keeneland's November sale, where she brought $410,000 from William Schettine.

That filly beat last year's top price, the $700,000 that Bob and Beverly Lewis paid for Consistent. But otherwise the opener's financial figures were off from last year's. Not surprisingly, given its 22 percent reduction in catalog size, Fasig-Tipton saw an 11 percent decline in gross to $14,078,000 - but median also fell by 10 percent to $61,000. Average fared somewhat better, sagging just 3 percent to $92,618.

Thursday's results appeared to be somewhat more positive, even without gaudy prices. Late in the Thursday session, Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's chief operating officer, noted that the financial figures for both days appeared to be closing in on last year's results, and he expected the average to be between $90,000 and $100,000, putting it within range of last year's $97,815. Much of the Thursday market consisted of bargain-hunting pinhookers, who buy yearlings to resell as juveniles.

"The sale is about exactly where we thought it would be, and the results are pretty consistent with last year's," Browning said. "There was nothing to indicate that we would have a tremendous uptick in the marketplace. I would characterize this sale as solid, consistent, business as usual."

In addition to the session leader, other notable sales Thursday were a $400,000 Thunder Gulch-Satin and Lace colt that Mark Reid, agent, bought from Gainesway; a $350,000 Lord Carson-Actinella colt, a half-brother to Grade 3 winner French Riviera, that Cabin Creek Farm bought from Always Tomorrow, agent; and a $350,000 Seattle Slew-Love Quarrel colt, the only lot by the late Triple Crown winner in the auction, that Marshall Silverman, agent, sold to pinhooker Maurice Miller III.

Another sale worth noting was that of Hip No. 269, a dark bay/brown In a Walk filly that Eaton Sales, agent, sold for $160,000 to Japan-based veterinarian Naoya Yoshida. Yoshida and his wife declined to comment, but the filly's story is well-known, thanks to the strange saga of her dam, Our Dani.

Our Dani also produced multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire You. But before You became a star, Our Dani's owner, Dolphus Morrison, decided to donate the mare to the University of Louisiana at Monroe's Layton Farm. The college's equine program bred her to their resident stallion. Most schools hold bake sales, but once You started winning Grade 1 races, the university took the mare to Keeneland's November sale and sold her, carrying the In a Walk foal, for $625,000. Horse France was the buyer then.

Wednesday's buyback rate fell sharply from last year's 41 percent to 30 percent, but at Thursday's final session, consignors still expressed dismay at buyers' apparently unforgiving appraisal of many horses.

John and Susan Moore, owners of Washington Park Handicap contender Iron Deputy, readily admit they fit the description of picky buyers. They attended the auction with only a portion of their selection team, including biomechanics and pedigree analysts Cecil and John Seaman and horseman Eddie Coletti. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens, another regular adviser, was in Chicago with Iron Deputy to prepare for Saturday's race.

"We are picky," said Susan Moore. "We have to be. They have to have graded black-type within the first two dams, our team has to like them, and they have to vet."

The Moores only found three horses they liked at Fasig-Tipton. They were outbid on all of them, and all went for between $400,000 and $500,000. By being picky, the Moores have been able to come up with such horses as Iron Deputy, a $45,000 yearling, and another Grade 2 winner, Regal Sanction, who cost $165,000. Both sold at Fasig-Tipton July and now have combined earnings of more than $700,000.

The Moores are in line with many buyers in today's yearling market. The supply may have been diminished by mare reproductive loss syndrome, but buyers aren't lowering standards.

"It's hard to buy the good horse," Susan Moore said. "We've walked away from a lot of sales without buying."

"Besides," added her husband, John, "there are plenty of other sales coming up, right?"