The North American yearling auction calendar went out on a high note on Thursday, with the Fasig-Tipton October Yearlings Sale posting record returns in gross and average sale price at the end of its four-day stand.
From a 1,598-horse catalog, the largest ever for the October sale, total of 1,007 horses changed hands for all-time high revenues of $38,138,900, up 11 percent from last year's four-day sale when 963 yearlings brought $34,260,100. The average sale price rose 6 percent to a record $37,874 from $35,576, but the median took a small dip of 13 percent to $13,000 from $15,000. This year's buyback rate finished at 24 percent after last year's sale closed at 23 percent.
“It was an outstanding week,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “There was solid, consistent trade from beginning to end. It's kind of a testament to our industry that we've been selling yearlings for months and there's still quite a bit of demand for many of the horses, but not all the horses, as we know and understand.
“Overall, I think coming into this sale, we'd hoped to be similar to last year's levels, and to exceed those levels is really encouraging,” he continued. “I think it's an indication of the increasing quality of horses being brought to this sale by the consignors, and the buyers are sure here willing to support the consignors and us by bidding on those horses.”
Thursday's session finished with the highest gross of the auction's four sessions, with 267 horses bringing $10,561,700. The average sale price of $39,557 just missed the best performance of this year's sale – $39,627 achieved on Monday – while the median landed at $13,000. The session's buyback rate landed at 19 percent.
The sale's most expensive horse came during Thursday's closing session when Carlo Vaccarezza landed a Candy Ride colt for $560,000.
The bay colt, offered as Hip 1503, is out of the winning Empire Maker mare Vanquished, whose five winners from seven foals to race include Grade 2 winner Takeover Target and stakes winner Laties' Privilege.
Bred in Kentucky by Forging Oaks Farm, the colt's extended family includes Grade 1 winner Critical Eye and Grade 3 winner Shane's Girlfriend. Eaton Sales consigned the colt, as agent.
Vaccarezza said the colt was purchased as a pinhook prospect, with plans to send him to Jimbo and Torie Gladwell's Top Line Sales in Williston, Fla., and target next year's Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Selected 2-Year-Olds In Training Sale.
“If the horse breezes well and develops, he can bring anything,” Vaccarezza said. “He could be easy, seven figures…We look for big pedigrees that are fashionable for big buyers at the sales, especially at Gulfstream Park.”
The colt was initially entered in this year's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale, but he was scratched due to a paddock incident prior to shipping to New York. Vaccarezza said the injuries were ultimately superficial.
“He had an issue with running through a fence, or he would have brought a million dollars at the Saratoga sale,” Vaccarezza said. “Let's keep our fingers crossed that the horse can breeze a :9 4/5 [at next year's under-tack show] and he brings some nice numbers at the Gulfstream Park sale.”
The October sale-topper was one of many horses to finish high on the leaderboard after scratching or getting bought back from a sale earlier in the year.
This is hardly a new development for the Fasig-Tipton October sale, which came naturally to its reputation as a “second chance” sale because of its spot at the end of the yearling sale calendar. After this, the next most viable option is to keep the horse over the winter and try for the 2-year-olds in training sales, which might not be financially viable.
What is somewhat new is the auction's status as a place where a “second-chance” horse can bring comparable money to what he or she might have brought in their originally intended spot, if not more.
“It's been a favorite sale of ours every year,” said consignor Peter O'Callaghan of Woods Edge Farm. “It's saved our bacon in many cases, and there's great demand here for a nice horse, as long as you're sensible about your expectations.
“I don't feel like it's any longer the place for the cheaper horse,” he continued. “I think those horses do better in the later books at Keeneland [September], but for a horse that misses its slot in Keeneland or Saratoga, those horses can do well here. The market here is definitely for a proper, good horse. There's not much of a market for anything else.”
In attracting horses for the October catalog that might best show themselves in the mid-fall season, Browning said recruitment of those “second chance” horses was a part of the formula, but the sale's reputation does a lot of the work for the auction company.
“More than getting on that horse and touching base with that person, I think that sellers know this is a legitimate place to bring a quality animal,” he said. “If you have a situation where the additional time or change in circumstances, or whatever factor might get you to say being in the latter stages of October will improve the marketability of that horse, they've got the confidence to do that, whether it's a $20,000 horse, or a $50,000 horse, or a $250,000 horse.”
“It's a tough game we play,” Browning continued. “Sometimes a horse might get sick or come up with a cough or minor x-ray blemish that was unexpected. There's all sorts of factors and circumstances that lead to horses moving from one sale to another, and a lot of horses just benefit from the additional time. I think you see a lot of horses blossom.”
To view the auction's full results, click here.
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