10/16/2008 11:00PM

Zayat's sale idea: horses in training


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Ahmed Zayat recently announced plans to sell some of his racing stock annually at auction, starting at the upcoming Keeneland November mixed sale. That could be the start of an entirely new sale on the auction calendar, if Zayat has his way.

The Egyptian beverage tycoon said this week that he has proposed to both Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton that they consider hosting a dedicated racing-stock auction in the near future, a concept that could help satisfy what Zayat believes is an underserved market.

"There hasn't really been a concept of a horses-in-training sale in the States," said Zayat, 46, who got into Thoroughbred racing in 2005. "In Europe, it's a little bit more developed."

Fasig-Tipton CEO Boyd Browning confirmed that the company has discussed the concept with Zayat but so far has no concrete plans beyond 2008. Keeneland sales director Geoffrey Russell could not be reached for comment.

Zayat said he'll sell 70 to 90 horses each year. Most will be 3 or 4, and he anticipates that 65 to 70 percent will be colts. This year's group, including Grade 1-placed stakes winners Baronness Thatcher and Premium Wine, will sell at Keeneland through the Eaton Sales consignment.

"When we did our business plan back in 2005, a horse competes around three years, and there's a maturing of a cycle," Zayat said. "We were focusing on racing a stable, that is our primary goal. We're trying to develop young horses into some stallions and nice graded stakes winners. Not every single horse will be a champ or a stakes winner, so the ones that do not suit our program going forward, we thought we'd look into an innovative way to let other owners who are seeking ready-made horses, so to speak, enjoy the fun and excitement."

Zayat says he plans to make his consignment's presentation "interactive," with what he calls a "data room" with race replays and most of the horses' trainers available to discuss their race performances.

"We'll supply them with Ragozins, Beyers, anything else people might want to have, right there next to where the horses are to be physically inspected," Zayat said. "And I insisted that people know that I am the owner and the one selling.

"I would like it to be even more innovative," he added. "Hopefully, next year it will be even more fun."

But Zayat is still interested in expanding the concept beyond his own stable and sparking a dedicated horses-in-training sale. He says other owners like the idea, too.

"There are a lot of other outfits that would have that need," he said, pointing to other homebreeding programs at WinStar and Adena Springs as possible examples. "And there's a lot of people who need horses but don't want to wait for yearlings, they want something already proven. This is not only in America, but Europeans and people who want something to go to the Dubai Carnival, and also emerging markets like Turkey and Russia where they are building new racetracks."

Fasig-Tipton plans 14 sales next year

Fasig-Tipton will hold 14 auctions over 25 total sales days in 2009, the company announced Friday.

The 2009 schedule, which begins with the Feb. 8-9 Kentucky winter mixed sale, has some minor dates changes that Browning said reflect the placement of federal holidays and racing events on the calendar.

Major select sales dates include Calder 2-year-olds on March 3 after a Feb. 27 breeze show; Kentucky July yearlings on July 21-22; Saratoga select yearlings on Aug. 10-11; and Kentucky November fall mixed stock on Nov. 8. The full calendar is available at www.fasigtipton.com.

Etc. . . .

Grade 1-winning millionaire Spring at Last, retired in April to WinStar Farm, will stand for $15,000 in 2009. The 5-year-old Silver Deputy horse is out of Winter's Gone, by Dynaformer, making him a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Sharp Lisa. . . . Grade 1 winner Millennium Wind will relocate from Highcliff Farm in New York to 519 Thoroughbreds in Arcadia, La., in 2009. A 10-year-old Cryptoclearance horse, he will stand for $2,000. Millennium Wind ranks third among New York's third-crop sires and is owned by Ro Parra's Millennium Farms. A son of the Drone mare Bali Babe, he is a half-brother to 1999 champion 3-year-old and dual classic winner Charismatic. . . . The Tattersalls October Book 3 yearling sale in Newmarket, England, ended Friday with 271 yearlings sold for about $5,084,431, for an $18,761 average and a $12,642 median. Gross fell 50 percent on a smaller catalog; 367 yearlings sold last season. Average and median fell 33 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Buy-backs fell from 26 percent to 35 percent.