By Jessica Martini
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Shoppers were out in force at the Fasig-Tipton sales barns Tuesday, a day ahead of the company’s Gulfstream Selected 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, with all of the industry’s leading buyers battling for shade and showing space on a sun-baked day in South Florida. Larry Best, whose OXO Equine purchased future graded stakes winner Instagrand (Into Mischief) for a co-topping $1.2 million at the 2018 sale, was making the rounds at the barns alongside advisor John Dowd, as was the Stonestreet Stables team which struck for a $1.2-million daughter of Medaglia d’Oro from the Niall Brennan consignment a year ago, and the Coolmore contingent which purchased a $1-million son of the late Scat Daddy.
Trainer Simon Callaghan, who picked out multiple Grade I winner Bellafina (Quality Road) for owner Kaleem Shah at the 2018 auction, took to the barns alongside bloodstock agent Ben McElroy. Tom Ludt of Phoenix Thoroughbreds–which acquired Grade I winner Dream Tree (Uncle Mo) in 2017–was also making the rounds, as was bloodstock agent Dennis O’Neill, who purchased GI Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist (Uncle Mo) at the Hallandale sale in 2015.
“The traffic has been very good all morning,” confirmed Eddie Woods, who consigned Instagrand to the auction a year ago. “It’s been steady all week with the usual customers who come through and come through early to watch horses train. And this morning it has been pretty flat out since we started at 8 a.m. So that’s always good.”
Of his 2019 consignment, which includes a colt from the first crop of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (hip 142) and a filly by leading sire Tapit (hip 126), Woods said, “We don’t have a horse who had the fastest work of the day, but I still think we have some nice horses. Going by the way they are looking at them this morning and the people that are looking at them, they’ve gone pretty good and they’re pretty much liking what they see. It’s just a case of them going through whatever else is around here and comparing them to everything else. And hopefully we stay in there.”
Woods said he is expecting demand at the boutique auction to be high on Wednesday, but also that many buyers will land on the same horses.
“The demand is still high on the top end and it always has been because that’s where all the money is,” he said. “And those people, economy doesn’t effect them as much. We’ll see how it goes here because they’re probably going to start latching onto the same ones as we go through the motions.”
Steve Venosa’s SGV Thoroughbreds offered one of three million-dollar juveniles at last year’s Gulfstream sale and the Ocala horseman returns with a five-horse consignment this year.
“Every year we come down here, we go through our horses and we try to bring a little bit of something for everyone,” said Venosa. “The horses trained well all week, they previewed well and look like they came out of the works very nicely. And they have been well-received back at the barn.”
Venosa, whose draft includes a colt by the sire of last year’s co-topper Into Mischief (hip 15), is looking for a strong sale on Wednesday.
“There are a lot of people here,” he said. “The traffic has been non-stop. And I think it’s a great group of horses. Fasig-Tipton always does a fantastic job recruiting horses for this sale.”
“We had a very good breeze show and Mr. Vet was kind to us,” McCrocklin said. “So I think we’re going to have a good sale. And there seems to be no lacking in buyers and lack of money here.”
McCrocklin admitted the Thoroughbred market remains polarized, but he said the boutique Gulfstream sale caters to the high-end buyers who are driving trade.
“I don’t care what sale you go to, these buyers are going to gravitate to the same horses overall,” McCrocklin said. “And that’s just the world we live in. But this sale is designed for this market. So if you walk away, as a consignor, and you’re not happy here, then shame on you. Because the people are here and the money is here. You just have to present your product and get the job done. I think it should be a very strong sale.”
Fasig-Tipton will be hosting its fifth juvenile sale at Gulfstream Park Wednesday and the auction has firmly found its footing at the Hallandale oval, according to Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr.
“I think everyone has gotten comfortable here,” Browning said. “I think we’ve got a really good home. It’s hard to beat this set up and these conditions. From a weather standpoint and then you’ve got an unbelievable racecard here this weekend with the GI Florida Derby–there are four stakes Friday and seven on Saturday. It’s a really upbeat time of the year. The facilities are fantastic. The horses get a great opportunity to train over a racetrack where a lot of people are hoping that they are going to be running 12 months from now in races like the ones that are coming up this weekend. And I do believe that that is an important consideration, for both buyers and sellers alike, that they get the opportunity to train and work on a racetrack like this.”
The Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale will be held in the track’s paddock with bidding scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.