It was a steady renewal of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearlings Sale, with gross and average returns falling just short of last year's record numbers. However, the middle market was buoyant, as evidenced by a healthy jump in the median sale price.
The four-day auction finished with 963 horses sold for revenues of $34,260,100, down four percent from last year's record $35,812,900 from 981 sold. The average sale price was down three percent to $35,576 from an all-time high of $36,507, while the median rose 25 percent to $15,000 from $12,000. The buyback rate closed at 23 percent compared with 22 percent in 2017.
“The confidence level continues to increase,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “Five years ago, we grossed about $22 million, so it was about a 50 percent increase over a five-year period of time. Some of that is the market, but certainly, the number of horses has increased significantly. The market is always an evolution. It won't be the same in 2019 as it was in 2018. I think giving people viable options is really important to them, and certainly, the October sale is a viable option.”
This year's sale cataloged 1,500 entries, packing the property to near-capacity in regards to horseflesh. A key factor in the auction's growth has been the self-fulfilling cycle of better-quality horses waiting for their spot to stand out – due to late development or not selling at a previous auction – and buyers recognizing that and coming with deeper funds. Those factors, paired with the sale being the last on the North American yearling calendar, have created a reliable marketplace.
“There's a lot of enthusiasm in the middle market,” said Douglas Arnold of Buck Pond Farm. “The thing I love about this sale, compared to any other sale, is you have motivated buyers and motivated sellers, moreso than any other place. When you talk about what something's worth or not worth, this is a better indicator than some of the other sales.”
However, Arnold also warned that the October catalog could also be in danger of reaching critical mass in terms of supply and demand.
“In my opinion, there were too many horses for the buyers that were here,” he said. “The good ones sold well and the others didn't do so well. It's an occupational hazard, but when you have a sale with this many horses in it and not enough buyers, that's part of what happens, but there's plenty of money for a good horse.”
The dark bay or brown colt is out of the winning Pulpit mare Shimmer, whose three winners from five foals to race includes Grade 3-placed Sister Moon.
Further down the page resides champion Misty Morn and G2 winners Private Light, Cielo Gold, Flitalong, Soar to the Stars, and Jump On In.
“He was very big, and we were trying to get him to look as good as he could possibly look,” said Reiley McDonald of consignor Eaton Sales. “He had a little bit of enthesitis in a knee, and we thought he's so good, that if we get him perfect instead of 90 percent there, it might pay off, and it did.”
The sale's second-highest price also came on Thursday, when trainer Kenny McPeek, as agent, landed Hip 1171, a $430,000 Tapit colt.
The gray or roan colt is out of the winning End Sweep mare Receivership, who is the dam of eight winners from four foals to race, including the G1 winner and young stallion Palace and stakes-placed Retriever. Gainesway consigned the colt, as agent.
Thursday's session was the strongest of the sale, producing the highest gross, average, and median of the four days.
The day's trade finished with 240 horses sold for $9,684,200, down four percent from last year's closing-day gross of $10,114,300 from 253 sold. The average rose one percent to $40,351, the median climbed 13 percent to $17,000, and the buyback rate closed at 22 percent.
“We've moved a lot of product,” said Pat Costello of Paramount Sales. “The better ones probably outsold what we were expecting a bit, so it was a pretty good sale. Plenty of buyers for the good ones. It was tough on the bottom end, but we got a lot of them moved.”
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