Elite Ready for Second July Assault

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Long on Value overtakes Lady Alexander in Highlander | M Burns

By Jessica Martini

When Elite presented its initial consignment at last year’s Fasig-Tipton July Horses of Racing Age Sale, the results were a resounding success for the boutique operation spearheaded by Brad Weisbord and Liz Crow. The consignment was responsible for seven of the 11 top-priced offerings, including Adorable Miss (Kitten’s Joy), whose $585,000 price tag was second-highest of the auction. The results in the sales ring last summer have been bolstered by success on the racetrack this year.

“The best thing for Year One was that our draft came out running,” Weisbord said as Elite prepares to offer its second July consignment next Monday in Lexington. “All 11 that we sold in July have raced and seven of the 11 have been stakes horses. Four have been graded stakes horses, three have been Grade I horses and we’ve had three stakes wins.”

The results only got rosier for Elite over the weekend when Lady Alexandra (More Than Ready) came up a narrowly beaten runner-up versus the boys in the GI Highlander S. Purchased by the Heider Family for $375,000 last July, the 4-year-old filly was beaten just a neck on the line by Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing and Steve Laymon’s Long On Value (Value Plus), who Elite sold for $100,000 at last year’s Keeneland November sale.

Lady Alexandra, a stakes winner for her new connections in April, joined fellow successful Elite July graduates like stakes winner and Grade I-placed Insta Erma (Pioneerof the Nile); multiple stakes-placed Happy Mesa (Sky Mesa); stakes-placed Adorable Miss and GI American Oaks third Kathy’s Song (Candy Ride {Arg}).

The 2018 Elite consignment to the July sale, which numbers 24 head, saw graded stakes action over the weekend with My Miss Tapit (Tapit) (hip 485) finishing third in the GII Princess Rooney S. at Gulfstream Park. Celestial Insight (Scat Daddy) (hip 419) will go postward in Saturday’s GIII Modesty H. at Arlington Park.

“I would have liked for My Miss Tapit to have won,” Weisbord admitted. “Winning, I think she might have topped the sale, but she was Grade II placed. Celestial Insight runs on Saturday–she’ll run and ship right into the sale. So these last few races for these horses are really going to determine what they bring.”

The Elite consignment also includes Lady Lucy (Into Mischief) (hip 465), a 2-year-old who broke her maiden at Churchill Downs June 15.

Lady Lucy is the only 2-year-old we have entered,” Weisbord said. “She was the fastest 2-year-old dirt filly of the meet by Into Mischief, so she stacks up extremely well. She is the fastest 2-year-old in the sale, so I think she’ll sell well.”

At the other end of the age spectrum for Elite is 2016 GI Man O’War S. winner Wake Forest (Ger) (Sir Percy {GB}). The 8-year-old will be offered as a racing or stallion prospect.

“Age is just a number-I used that in a tweet this morning,” Weisbord said of Wake Forest. “He is eight, he is a Grade I winner and he’s going to sell as a stallion or racing prospect. We X-rayed him yesterday and he is as clean as any horse we have. He runs mid-90s Beyers and he is going to be a useful regional stakes horse for somebody for the next year. In Dubai, you see 8 or 9-year-olds run all of the time. In America, it is rare to see that happen. In the case of [7-year-old] Long on Value, I think age scared a lot of people off, but the horse is two-for-two this year. So that’s going to give people more confidence to buy that sort of age and, for not an expensive price, you can pick up a horse to run in regional stakes.”

Weisbord admitted Elite’s success from last year will be hard to duplicate next week.

“There are about 20% more horses entered and I think the catalogue is at least 20-30% stronger in terms of quality,” Weisbord said of the 2018 July catalogue. “I don’t think we’ll have six of the top seven this year. I think we will have a couple in the top 10, but it’s definitely a stronger catalogue.”

The July Horses of Racing Age Sale, which was first held in 2013, enjoyed one of its strongest renewals last year with 84 horses selling for $8,083,000 and an average of $96,226. Sellers took notice of the results, according to Weisbord.

“I think last year woke a lot of people up,” he said. “Fasig had their best numbers in years and I think a lot of consignors saw that people are willing to sell here and that the buyers are here. They decided to go after it. Claiborne is coming in this year with some Phipps horses. They weren’t here last year. That will help the colt version out a bunch. And there are some other strong horses. [Hunter Valley’s] Fergus Galvin has the Grade III winner [Treasuring {GB} (Havana Gold {Ire}) (hip 538)] for Simon Callaghan. Rich Mommy (Algorithms) (hip 506) is with Taylor Made. She’s a Grade III winner. So there are some graded stakes-winning fillies in here. So just looking through the entries, for me, it’s a stronger group than last year. Which will hopefully bring even more buyers out there and keep the numbers up.”

Between a strong catalogue and demand in the marketplace, Weisbord is anticipating another strong July sale.

“We shop in the private market every day and I find it as hard as ever to buy those types,” he said. “That should translate down to the public market. I thought last year was exceptionally strong and I think this year will be even stronger, between more horses and a stronger catalogue and the private market being so difficult. There is absolutely no reason to think that this won’t be a very strong sale. When an owner thinks they should be getting $150,000 for a horse, I’d be surprised if the bidding wasn’t $180,000 or $190,000 on that horse-a few ticks over. I’m not saying it’s going to be double. I think the clearance rate will be very strong and the market will be very strong.”

The Fasig-Tipton July Horses of Racing Age Sale begins at 4 p.m. next Monday at the company’s Lexington sales complex. The following day, Fasig-Tipton will hold its July Selected Yearlings Sale beginning at 10 a.m.

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