Following a relatively tame opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale on Monday, the market woke up during the auction's second half, propelled by a solid group of offerings in the supplemental catalog to produce returns that were down slightly from last year's sale in the averages but ahead by gross.
At the end of the two-day auction, a total of 368 horses changed hands for revenues of $9,777,100, up 1 percent from last year's Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale when 327 horses brought $9,659,400.
The average sale price declined 10 percent to $26,568 from $29,539, while the median dipped 43 percent to $8,500 from $15,000. The buyback rate finished at 25 percent, compared with 20 percent in 2019.
Three of the auction's five most expensive offerings came during the supplemental catalog at the end of Tuesday's session, which helped keep the figures competitive with last year's sale. This was best demonstrated by Tuesday's average sale price of $34,085 for the session, which was higher than either of last year's individual days of trade.
Below that upper crust, Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning acknowledged that the market at the sale – and throughout the auction landscape – has become increasingly unforgiving.
“There's either multiple bidders on your horse, or you hope to goodness you've got one bidder, and that's the reality of the marketplace,” Browning said. “I suspect we'll be having the same conversation throughout 2020 – a lot of strength for the horses who jump through the hoops and meet the expectations of buyers, and when you miss, you'd better be careful setting your reserve and have a good assessment of your market value.”
Of particular interest during Tuesday's session was the initial offering of mares tied to the liquidation of Zayat Stables, in the wake of a $23-million lawsuit by lender MGG Investments against owner Ahmed Zayat over allegations that his stable defaulted on a loan. The stable was placed under receivership, with a third-party manager taking the wheel on the operation's day-to-day activities as it attempts to settle a long line of debt.
Prior to the lawsuit being filed by MGG Investments in January, Zayat's representatives outlined a plan to the creditor on Dec. 12 to liquidate his equine assets, including horses of all ages and breeding rights. The document featured estimated values of each individual asset under favorable market conditions.
The six Zayat horses cataloged in the supplemental entries of the Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale were estimated to be worth a combined $1.9 million in that document. Four of the six changed hands in the ring on Tuesday for a combined $366,000, with one mare accounting for $310,000 of that total.
One mare, stakes-producer Fateer, finished under her reserve at $95,000, while her yearling filly by Paynter left the ring without a bid.
While the goal of Zayat Stables' remaining days in business is to generate as much money as possible to settle its debts, Browning said the horses were not entered as a “firesale” liquidation. When the opportunity for instant turnover at a potentially lower price was on the table, Browning said having patience and setting reserves was a shrewd move on the part of the receiver.
“The receiver has the fiduciary responsibility to manage those assets and evaluate the best way to maximize their value,” Browning said. “There was no obligation or requirement to sell those horses at any price. I think it shows the credibility and the confidence that the receiver has in the process. They put a value on the horse [Fateer] that they thought was fair and reasonable, which I concurred was fair and reasonable, and the market didn't think she was worth that today.
“There might have been another reserve or two on horses, but those horses got sold well in excess of reserve, so I think it shows they take their fiduciary responsibilities seriously,” Browning continued. “I think it demonstrates to all impacted parties that they're going to hopefully continue this process in an orderly fashion and do the best job they can to maximize the proceeds of those assets that are remaining.”
The star of the Zayat string was Hip 630, Flashly, a winning Denman mare offered in-foal to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah who sold to Sallusto and Albina, agent, for $310,000.
The 5-year-old mare is out of the unraced Mineshaft mare Sheave, making her a half-sister to Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia.
“She's a mare in foal to American Pharoah that's from a good filly family, and we've had good luck with that kind of stuff before,” said bloodstock agent Hanzly Albina, who signed the ticket. “She's a good-looking mare, we thought it was good value. We're breeding to American Pharoah this year, so we thought it was logical to buy one that's in-foal to American Pharoah.”
Though Albina's future plans tie in with sending mares to American Pharoah, he said it remained to be seen whether Flashly would be a member of that group.
Flashly was consigned by St George Sales, as agent. The consignment handled all six of the Zayat horses that were entered in the sale.
“She's a straightforward mare, and I would imagine she appealed to a lot of buyers,” said consignor Archie St. George. “A mare like her, they're going to find. She's the only mare in here in-foal to American Pharoah. Mares like her probably sell wherever they are.”
Twin Creeks Farm Buys Out Partners On $570,000 Remedy
The highest-priced offering of this year's Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale came as part of a buyout, when Twin Creeks Racing took full control of the Grade 3-placed Creative Cause mare Remedy for $570,000.
The chestnut mare, offered as Hip 619, last raced in the listed Pippin Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 25 for the partnership of Twin Creeks, Medallion Racing, and Parkland Thoroughbreds. She has won three of 13 starts for earnings of $217,344, with runner-up efforts in the Grade 3 Comley Stakes and Remington Park Oaks.
However, what truly gave the mare her value was her female family. Her second dam is Broodmare of the Year Leslie's Lady, putting Remedy in the family of champion Beholder, top sire Into Mischief, and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn.
She comes from a particularly strong branch of the female family when it comes to production, as well. Remedy is out of the unraced Orientate mare Daisy Mason, whose four foals to race are all winners, also including Grade 3-placed stakes winner Harry's Holiday.
“She's just a good-looking mare, she could run some, and she's got the hottest pedigree going anywhere,” said Frank Taylor of consignor Taylor Made Sales Agency. “I think she could be a foundation mare for somebody, just breed her right.”
Medallion Racing also falls under the Taylor Made umbrella, giving Frank Taylor an extra layer of knowledge with Remedy.
“I thought she was sold fairly, but I could have seen her bringing some more in another sale,” he said.
Street Sense Filly Sells To First Finds For $265,000 With Saratoga Ambitions
Tuesday's top newly-turned yearling also brought the sale's overall highest price among the young horses, with Tami Bobo's First Finds landing a Street Sense filly for $265,000.
The gray or roan filly, offered as Hip 526, is the first foal out of the winning Rockport Harbor mare Froyo Star. The dam is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Sweet Reason, who is herself by Street Sense, making for a proven cross. Froyo Star's other siblings of note include Grade 3 winner Don't Forget Gil, stakes winner Battle Girl, and Grade 3-placed Meantime.
Martin Keogh signed the ticket on behalf of Bobo.
“She was looking for a horse to go to Saratoga [the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale], and that filly fit the bill,” Keogh said. “Quality, pedigree, she just had it all. We just loved her from the first day we saw her. We didn't think she would cost that much, but the good ones, you've got to step up to pay for them.”
The filly was bred in Kentucky by Southern Equine Stables, and she was consigned by Bluewater Sales, agent.
“She's a classy filly. In times when people are at the market going forward, I think having a filly with page is a great place to be. They've got residual value. You can sell them as yearlings, you can sell them as 2-year-olds, or you can run them.
Levy said she had experience with the family, having handled Sweet Reason when she sold to Japan's Katsumi Yoshida for $2.7 million at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton November Sale.
Saratoga was on the mind of a few buyers on the grounds at the Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale. Monday's top yearling – a $140,000 colt by Connect – was purchased by Brian Graves' Blue Sky Stable with eyes on the boutique auction in upstate New York.
The Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale is not itself known as a marketplace for high-six-figure horses pushing into the seven-figure stratosphere, but Levy said there is a population of pinhook buyers out there who shop the sale looking for the kind of horse that could one day push those lofty heights.
“I think people have in mind what sales they want to go to, and typically, if you miss the first couple of books in the other sales [of the mixed sale season], you're not going to get the page or sire power you might need to go to Saratoga, and this year, horses were on the expensive side for nice physicals,” she said. “By this time of year, pinhooking partnerships get to the stage where they know what they have in the barn, they know how much money is left over. My husband likes to call it a 'four month horse,' so to speak. It's a quick turnaround – less expenses, less risk, hopefully.”
To view the sale's full results, click here.
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