The Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Selected Yearling Sale was one of the first auctions hosted by the company following the death of longtime vice president Bill Graves in May, but his work continued to be felt on Tuesday when a Flatter colt rallied to bring a sale-topping $520,000 near the end of trade.
Graves was the chief proponent for breeder Jane Lyon of Summer Wind Farm placing the colt in the July sale. It was uncharted territory for the Georgetown, Ky.-based operation, which previously sold exclusively at the high-end Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale and Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
“The first time Bill saw this horse, he really liked him and said, 'We need to sell this horse in July,'” said Summer Wind Farm general manager Bobby Spalding. “That's why he's here. That's probably the only reason.
“He was the right one,” Spalding continued. “We picked him out early. We started looking at him in March and started planning that hopefully we could do this, but you never know.”
Bloodstock agent David Ingordo signed the ticket on behalf of Al Rashid Stable. Lane's End consigned the colt, as agent.
Spalding said interest in the colt was high in the days leading up to the show. The colt was shown over 200 times.
“This horse never got tired here,” Spalding said. “He just showed, and showed, and showed.”
The colt, named Silvertonguedevil, is a third-generation product of Lyon's breeding program, out of the Curlin mare No Curfew. Second dam Misty Hour has been a cornerstone of the Summer Wind broodmare band, producing Grade 2 winners India and stakes winners Sing Softly and Pilfer. The latter is herself the dam of Grade 1 winners To Honor and Serve and Angela Renee.
Lyon compared the experience of seeing her colt top the sale to watching a grandchild enjoy success.
“There's nothing like it,” she said. “I've got three daughters of the mare, Misty Hour, who was a gift to me by my husband as a 2-year-old for Christmas, and now it's ended up like this. It's pretty exciting.”
The sale-topper went through the ring as the second-to-last offering, providing a fitting climax to an auction that took some time to find its momentum despite finishing with healthy across-the-board gains.
Tuesday's sale wound up with 196 horses sold for revenues of $19,762,500, up 23 percent from last year, when 172 horses sold for $16,107,000. The average sale price rose 8 percent to $100,829, producing the first six-figure return since 2007, while the median grew 7 percent to $75,000. The buyback rate went unchanged at 30 percent.
Returns of that magnitude displayed just how strong the market rallied as the day wore on. Of the 24 horses that sold for $200,000 or more on Tuesday, 19 of them came from the second half of the catalog, while buyback rate hovered around 50 percent for the first hour and a half before trade settled down and figures improved.
“It was probably a reflection of just the quality of where the horses fell,” said Faisg-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “It often takes a little time to get a sale started. I don't think anybody's going to dispute that, but if we were to put together our lists and grades and do a big analysis, I would say the second half of the catalog probably graded better than the first half of the sale. It's just by complete chance. It's totally random, as we're selling totally by the alphabet [organized by the names of the dams], with a random letter drawn each year.”
When a sale is slow out of the gate, Carl McEntee of Ballysax Bloodstock said it is crucial to keep a steady hold on the value of one's offerings, and to show patience before making a wholesale shift in setting reserve prices.
“It makes you a little nervous, but honestly, we know what our horses are worth,” he said. “You have a pretty good mind. The one thing you always have to be cognizant of, it doesn't matter how many scopes you have – you may have one or you may have six – it doesn't change the value of the horse, it just means there are more people that like it.”
Andrew Cary of Select Sales said Tuesday's improved figures were reflective of a sharp focus by sellers to point appealing horses toward a discerning marketplace that values forward yearlings. Despite being the first stop on the yearling calendar, physical or mental immaturity at the July sale can still work to the detriment of an offering.
“We really try to be critical of the ones we bring here because we know they have to stand up to the scrutiny and the heat over multiple days of showing,” said Andrew Cary of Select Sales. “It takes a special horse to sell here, and we've had good luck here. It's nice to see the good horses do well and sell well.”
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