07/27/2017 12:40PM

Yearling sale season kicks off from coast to coast

Barbara D. Livingston
The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. has moved its annual yearling sale from August to October.

The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale is the category’s first boutique auction of the season and kicks off a flurry of activity from coast to coast on a changing yearling market landscape during August. Fasig-Tipton immediately continues its activity with its New York-bred yearling sale, the Barretts auction company hosts its first yearling sale of the season, and other major sale companies will be preparing to put their own offerings on show. Here is a look at North America’s remaining major yearling sales of 2017, in chronological order.

Barretts August select yearling sale

Aug. 29 in Del Mar, Calif.

2016 topper: $130,000 filly by Smiling Tiger-Chanceofalifetime, by Pentelicus, purchased by Jeff Bonde

The Barretts August sale is still finding its footing after its birth in 2015, when Barretts moved its base to Del Mar. That year’s inaugural sale marked the first summertime yearling sale in Southern California in more than a decade. Barretts previously had held a select sale in October. Led by three six-figure horses, the 2016 renewal posted steady gross and average figures compared to 2015, with a slight decline in median.

Eighty-one yearlings are cataloged for this year’s single-session auction. Highlights of the catalog include seven yearlings by the late Unusual Heat, California’s all-time leading sire, and a pair of yearlings from the penultimate crop of champion California Chrome’s sire, Lucky Pulpit, who died earlier this year. California-based stallions with first-crop yearlings in the catalog include Boisterous, Capital Account, Daddy Nose Best, Jeranimo, and Unusual Heatwave.

Fasig-Tipton turf showcase

Sept. 10 in Lexington, Ky.

Fasig-Tipton made waves this spring when it announced the creation of a sale focused on yearlings who appear suited for racing on the turf and positioned the sale the day before the marathon Keeneland September yearling sale begins.

While the auction company has yet to announce the number of horses that will be offered in the inaugural edition – the sale catalog was not available at press time – the auction is expected to keep a select format, with entries approved on pedigree and physical conformation.

Keeneland September yearling sale

Sept. 11-23 in Lexington, Ky.

2016 topper: $3 million colt by Scat Daddy-Leslie’s Lady, by Tricky Creek, purchased by M.V. Magnier

The bellwether Keeneland September sale, which tests the yearling market at a number of levels, also announced a change to its format this year, along with introducing a lucrative bonus system for graduates.

The sale’s elite Book 1 portion will offer 200 selected yearlings on a single night, Sept. 11. The sale’s Book 2 portion will run Sept. 12-14, with 350 horses sold each day. Following the traditional dark day on Friday, Sept. 15, the sale resumes Sept. 16 and continues through Sept. 23. Last year, continuing a format established in 2015, Book 1 took place over three days, with 607 yearlings cataloged. The sale continued with Book 2 following a dark day.

Graduates of the Book 1 catalog also will be eligible for bonus funds, paid out to the seller of the horse and the racing owner, should they win a Grade 1 or Group 1 event in an eligible country as a 2-year-old or 3-year-old. If the top-level win occurs at Keeneland, bonus awards are doubled. Keeneland will seed the pool with $750,000 in 2018, when this year’s sale graduates begin racing as 2-year-olds, and will commit an additional $1.5 million each year thereafter.

The 2016 renewal of Keeneland September featured the most expensive horse sold at the auction since 2010. A half-brother to champion Beholder and by the late sire Scat Daddy fetched $3 million. Strength in the upper and middle markets helped the sale finish with relatively steady figures, including its seventh-highest average price of all time, despite losing some traction in the lower markets.

:: 2017 Yearling Market Preview | First-year sires | Beyer Sire Performance Standings | More coverage ::

Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale

Oct. 3 in Timonium, Md.

2016 topper: $450,000 colt by Curlin-Formalities Aside, by Awesome Again, purchased by Charles Zacney

The buying base in the Mid-Atlantic region has been solid in recent years, and this sale will hope to capitalize on that this fall. The 2016 renewal posted gains in gross and average, but a slight decline in median.

Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. October yearling sale

Oct. 10-12 in Ocala, Fla.

2016 topper: Sold in August, $210,000 colt by Flatter-Madoffwiththecash, by Dixie Union, purchased by Stan Hough, agent for Sagamore Farm

The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. has continued to make changes, shifting its traditional August yearling sale to October in an attempt to find a more advantageous spot on the calendar. As a result, the company is eliminating its October mixed sale, which had already been suspended a year due to extensive facility renovations, and will continue to offer breeding stock at its January sale. The OBS October sale had been a staple in Florida for four decades, and its August yearling sale also was a fixture for decades.

The OBS October yearling sale will follow the format of the August sale, with a selected session Oct. 10 followed by two open sessions on Oct. 11-12.

Barretts fall sale of yearlings and horses of all ages

Oct. 17 in Pomona, Calif.

2016 topper: $190,000 colt by Smiling Tiger-Erica’s Smile, by Williamstown, purchased by Slugo Racing

Barretts holds its second yearling sale at its former base in Pomona.

Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale

Oct. 23-25 in Lexington, Ky.

2016 co-toppers: $350,000 colt by Curlin-Party Chatter, by Touch Gold, purchased by JSM Equine/Justin Casse, agent; $350,000 colt by Bernardini-Desert Gazelle, by Smart Strike, purchased by Stonestreet Stables

This sale, the last major stop on the yearling calendar, has grown in popularity as a destination event in recent years, with each renewal from 2011-14 establishing records in gross, average, and median before appearing to find a plateau. The sale expanded from three days to four in 2015 and saw some declines from those record figures. It was cut back to its traditional three days in 2016 and concluded with a relatively stable marketplace, with single-digit shifts in average and median prices.

Regional sales

California’s action isn’t confined to Barretts, as the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association will hold its annual Northern California sale of yearlings and horses of racing age, with a catalog dominated by California-breds, Aug. 15 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

Continuing the theme of change, the Louisiana marketplace also has made changes in recent years. After offering a yearling sale every season since 1988, the Breeders Sales Company of Louisiana, a subsidiary of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association, struck an agreement with the bourgeoning Equine Sales of Louisiana to suspend its sale for five years, starting in 2016, to throw support behind that sale. Equine Sales of Louisiana will hold its annual consignor-select yearling sale Aug. 31, and an open yearling and mixed sale Oct. 15.

The Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society conducts four yearling or mixed sales in various provinces, highlighted by the Ontario premier yearling sale Aug. 31 at Woodbine. The organization also conducts the Manitoba yearling sale Aug. 20, the British Columbia yearling and mixed sale Sept. 12, and Alberta Thoroughbred sale Sept. 17.

The Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association hosts its annual yearling and mixed sale Aug. 22, with yearlings offered at the sale eligible for a pair of bonuses in future races at Emerald Downs.

The annual Ruidoso New Mexico-bred Thoroughbred yearling sale, highlighting the statebred program, will be held Sept. 1-3.

Other notable state and regional sales include the Carter Sales Co. Oklahoma City sale of yearlings and horses of racing age Aug. 17, the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association yearling sale on Aug. 21, the Heritage Place Thoroughbred sale in Oklahoma on Oct. 8, and the Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association fall mixed sale Oct. 15.