The Stronach Group, parent company of Santa Anita Park, will team with Fasig-Tipton Co. for a pair of Thoroughbred auctions to be held at the racetrack in 2019. A sale of 2-year-olds in training is tentatively set for June 5, while a yearling sale has been penciled in for Sept. 24.
“We are very excited to be returning to the auction marketplace in California,” said Fasig-Tipton President and Chief Executive Officer Boyd Browning, Jr. “Santa Anita is the perfect venue to conduct quality sales in California. We will work closely with The Stronach Group to serve the California West Coast marketplace.”
The Stronach Group’s Gulfstream Park plays host to Fasig-Tipton’s Florida 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale in the spring and the executive was looking forward to welcoming the auction house back to the Golden State.
“We’re thrilled to have Fasig-Tipton back in California and to host these sales at Santa Anita Park,” said Ritvo. “The Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale in March has been an incredible success for both Gulfstream and Fasig-Tipton and we want to continue building on that relationship here at Santa Anita. These sales are exciting for horsemen as well as fans. Fasig-Tipton is a wonderful partner and our work with them allows us to re-energize our facilities with different events while continuing to bring the inventory right to our horsemen.”
The announcement coincides with the news that Barretts, founded in 1989 by Fred Sahadi, Jerry McMahon and the late Ralph Hinds and since that time California’s flagship auctioneers, will cease operations at the end of 2018.
“Fairplex, the parent company of Barretts, has decided to close Barretts down at the end of the year,” said Barretts’ General Manager Kim Lloyd. “Fasig-Tipton and Santa Anita have come together and have agreed to stage sales in California. We know that they will do a fine job. We’re glad we carried on as long as we did and they are coming in to fill that void left by our departure.”
Lloyd remains convinced that there is a place for Thoroughbred sales in the state, but that at the end of the day, a business decision was made.
“Fairplex has moved on,” Lloyd said. “Their track is gone and they’ve gotten out of racing, so they’re kind of moving away from the sale and into other things. There’s a new administration and they have decided to pursue different paths. We weren’t part of the future and that’s just how it works out.”
Industry stakeholders in California have come out in support of Friday’s announcement.
“We are pleased that Santa Anita and Fasig-Tipton are joining the auction arena,” said Miguel A. Santana, President and CEO of Fairplex. “We applaud Santa Anita for stepping up and taking the lead to support the equine sales industry, and keeping a footprint on the West Coast. We look forward to supporting them, and the industry, in the future.”
Over the years, Barretts has given California breeders a chance to showcase their horses and buyers a chance to shop without the need to travel out of state. Doug Burge, president of the California Breeders Association, also expressed his satisfaction with the news.
“The CTBA has worked diligently the last few years with Barretts and the Los Angeles County Fair to guarantee a smooth transition with the commercial sales offered in California. We are extremely gratified with the support shown by both Santa Anita and Fasig Tipton, as this partnership will provide the needed stability and confidence for California breeders.”
Lloyd, a former trainer who admits to having no designs on going back to that vocation, is confident that he’ll land on his feet within the industry
“Now that it’s out there in the open, I hope my phone starts ringing,” he said. “I do like buying horses at the sales and managing horses, so maybe that’s what the future holds. It’s kind of up in the air right now and I’m open to suggestions.”
He admits to bittersweet emotions as it regards Barretts’ closing.
“When Fred Sahadi and Jerry McMahon kicked this thing off, I can remember seeing the drawings on the front page of the Daily Racing Form and I thought, ‘we’re going to have a real place to have horse sales,’ and I was so excited as a young trainer to be able to go see horses, frankly, in our own backyard,” he said. “That was a wonderful thing for us. When I got hired at Barretts, I just fell in love with the job. It was a perfect fit for me and I really enjoyed my time here. I really hate to see it go. But thankfully Fasig is stepping in and Santa Anita is stepping up. My main concern is always the industry. I love this business, always have. You need a sales company to make it viable for all parties, so I am glad to see it continue on, even if it’s not with Barretts.”