By Jessica Martini
LEXINGTON, KY – The Fasig-Tipton October Yearlings Sale, which produced record-setting renewals in 2021 and 2022, opened Monday with solid, if less spectacular figures, than a year ago.
A total of 257 yearlings grossed $11,224,800 Monday. The session average of $43,676 was down 10.5% from last year's opening day and the median of $20,000 was down 25.9%.
“It was a solid opening session,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr. “I think the results were basically in line with expectations and what we are seeing throughout the marketplace in 2023. There was strong demand on the upper-end horses and less demand than you would hope on some of the lower-end horses.”
The buy-back rate was 26.4%. It was 27.5% last year.
“There is selectivity amongst the buying group,” Browning said. “And it appears from talking to people that there is very close scrutiny on vetting. If you get a little ding here or a ding there, the buyers are basically just passing on your horse rather than offering you a discount.”
The session was topped by a son of Justify who sold for $500,000 to the bid of John Stewart. The Triple Crown-winning sire was also responsible for the day's second highest offering with De Meric Sales purchasing a colt for $300,000. In all, 10 yearlings sold for $200,000 or over. Eleven hit that mark during last year's opening session.
“It's always slow the first day,” said Peter O'Callaghan, whose Woods Edge Farm consigned the session topper. “You have to be a little bit lucky that you are catalogued a little bit into the day almost each day. But there is always a market here. I love this sale. I've had a lot of luck here. It's saved our bacon many times. Fasig-Tipton do such an amazing job here, accommodating everyone in this market. And they do a great job recruiting people to come in for it.”
The Fasig-Tipton October sale continues through Thursday with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.
Stewart Back in Action at Fasig October
John Stewart, who made a splash at last month's Keeneland September Yearling Sale when buying 13 yearlings for $8,425,000, got on the board during the first session of the Fasig-Tipton October sale when going to $500,000 to acquire a colt by Justify (hip 227) for $500,000 from Peter O'Callaghan's Woods Edge Farm consignment.
“The horse looked like a beautiful specimen,” Stewart said after bidding for the yearling alongside bloodstock agent Gavin O'Connor and manager Chelsey Stone. “We actually have wanted to pick up a couple more horses at this sale before really coming out strong in November at the breeding stock sales where we have some things planned. We are just trying to balance out the portfolio of horses that we have right now. This Justify colt is a great addition. We just liked everything about the horse.”
The gray yearling is out of Champagne Royale (French Deputy) and is a half-brother to Grade I winners Majestic Harbor (Rockport Harbor) and Danza (Street Boss).
“As I've said, I am a buyer, not a bidder,” Stewart said. “So we were buying the horse regardless. I am happy with $500,000. I think we got a good deal. There is a lot of money left on the table for us.”
O'Callaghan purchased the colt for $250,000 as a weanling at the 2022 Keeneland November sale. He RNA'd for $325,000 at last month's Keeneland September sale.
“I think the six weeks made a difference,” O'Callaghan said. “He was a beautiful animal in September, but he was a 25th of May foal and maybe he just had a slightly young look about him. Even though he was a well-grown horse, he just hadn't got that rugged, robust look about him yet in September. We were just hoping to get our investment back today, but we are delighted with the $500,000.”
“Most of them are already broke,” Stewart said of his September yearlings. “Now we are talking with trainers to get the right fit for them. And our first horse, Shiloh's Mistress (Vino Rosso)–who was our first purchase at Keeneland last September –just ran last Sunday at Keeneland. She ran well.”
Stewart, who is founder and managing partner of the Lexington-based private equity firm MiddleGround, may soon have a new home for his horses.
“We put an offer in to buy Shadwell Farm['s Shadayid Stud],” Stewart said. “So we need to stock that up–800 acres that we've got to fill up with some horses. That's what we are trying to do.”
Barber Continues War of Will Buying Spree
Gary Barber watched War of Will carry his colors to victory in the 2019 GI Preakness S. and now the owner is supporting the stallion in his next career at Claiborne Farm. Barber purchased 14 yearlings by War of Will at the Keeneland September sale last month and he added a 15th yearling to his roster when going to $230,000 for a colt (hip 194) from the Denali Stud consignment.
“War of Will has been very good to both Gary and me,” said Mark Casse, who trained the Classic winner. “We are going to give him the best chance we possibly can. The good thing about the War of Wills is that they should be able to do anything–dirt or turf, short, long. We are excited about them.”
Barber and Pantofel Stables purchased a pair of colts by War of Will (hip 844 and hip 2508) for $200,000 to be his top-priced purchases by the stallion in September. Monday's purchase was the owner's most expensive yearling purchase by the stallion.
“I've been fortunate to be around some pretty good sires through my years and I think this horse has great potential,” Casse said. “Gary feels the same way and he is putting his money up to show it.”
Hip 194, bred by Michael Hernon, is out of Callista (Tapit) and is a half-brother to Diamond City (Shackleford). Callista is a daughter of Grade I winner Sweet Talker (Stormin Fever) and a full-sister to stakes winner and graded placed Sweet Tapper.
“The horse that we bought today looks as much like dad as anybody,” Casse said. “But I can tell you they are all really good sized, for the most part they have vetted really well. We've already started breaking. We've got 15 or 20 that are in the early stages of breaking. And they have been extremely smart. They are doing everything right. He was a brilliantly smart horse and could do anything. And so far, that's what we are seeing in the babies.”