'A Fantastic Start'–Fasig-Tipton July Launches Yearling Season

Hip 170, the Maclean's Music sales topper | Fasig-Tipton

by Christina Bossinakis & Stefanie Grimm

Lexington, KY–The onset of the yearling season every summer can be a bit of a worrisome time for many. With the yearlings that have been so painstakingly selected by Fasig-Tipton's team for its first yearling sale of the season, it can often be a bit unnerving whether things will go off without a hitch or not. And at the conclusion of Tuesday's yearling session, it appeared that it had.

“It was a fantastic start to the 2024 yearling sales season,” affirmed Fasig-Tipton President and CEO Boyd Browning, Jr. “I think that it clearly exceeded our expectations, even our hopes. Literally the first horse in the ring brought over $200,000 and kind of helps set the tone for the rest of the day.”

Having already well established its Freshman Sires Showcase over the past several seasons, Browning was enthused about the results from Tuesday's early trade.

“The Freshman Sire Showcase is part of what we do and we've become known for and it's a good way to introduce those stallions to the market,” he said. “[This year was] a fabulous group. It's about as good a group of freshman sire yearlings as we've seen in a long time. So will we have it again? Yeah, we'll have that back again next year.”

At the conclusion of Tuesday's session, a total of 154 head sold for gross receipts of $17,319,000 with an average of $112,461 and a median of $90,000. In 2023, 210 yearlings sold (including three post sales) for a gross of $20,507,000. The average closed out at $98,724 and the median was $77,000.

“It's not easy, don't get me wrong. The market is not all fantastic and everything sounds great,” he said. “But it was a healthy market. Any time you post increases over last year's results, it's positive. I'm not a huge statistics guy, but I think this sale gave everybody confidence heading into the remainder of the sales season.”

 


Spendthrift's Ned Toffey was equally upbeat about the trade at Fasig-Tipton this week. The operation made a single purchase, acquiring Hip 81, a colt by Spendthrift sire Yaupon for $210,000. Spendthrift was also represented by several of its stallions, including the Uncle Mo-sired Yaupon, who led the day's freshman class with 11 selling for gross receipts of $1,792,000.

“It's been very good overall,” said Toffey. “I think maybe there was some anxiety early, but if you stand out here by the walking ring, you see a ton of good-looking, quality horses go by and people respond well to that kind of horse. So we're very happy with today's results.”

Commenting on the activity on the grounds in the days leading up to this year's July Sale, Browning said, “[Seeing] the traffic on the sales grounds when I pulled in Sunday morning, I thought, 'It's going to be ok.' Saturday morning was busy, which was important. Sunday morning I had to park a row behind where I normally do and it was refreshing. It felt good on the sales grounds from eight o'clock Saturday morning until almost five o'clock on Tuesday. And a lot of people are smiling.”

And the depth of buyers, from pinhookers to end users, was also encouraging to Browning. Among buyers, Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Kenny McPeek, a regular on the July scene, purchased seven yearlings for a total of $1,120,000, including the highest priced, Hip 114, a colt by McKinzie for $275,000.

“We've spent 10 years trying to change the label from a pinhooker sale to a yearling sale,” he admitted. “And we saw significant participation from [Resolute Farm's] John Stewart again, and [trainer] Ken McPeek returned again. There were plenty of trainers on the sales grounds here too.”

At the end of the day's trading, the RNA rate came in over 30%, rising from 31.9% in 2023 to 33.3% this year.

“There was significant competition across the board for the vast number of horses. Same as always in July,” he said. “RNAs were a little higher than we would like because people have options. They have October and they have some other sales they can attend or save them for the 2-year-old marketplace. So it's always a little higher in that regard.”

He explained, “Sometimes it's a hard sell in many regards because it's a physical sale. You have to try and make sure that you get the right type of horses. We live in a world where there is a lot of physical scrutiny. When you look at a horse in March, April or early May, you have no idea how they will vet. Some of them improved and unfortunately, some of them don't mature or go the wrong way. I am pleased overall with our inspection team because they put together a good group of horses from a physical standpoint. Can we do better? Yes, we always try to do better. But that's a little bit easier said than done. But we'll try to tighten the physicals again next year.”

At the end of the day, Browning was extremely encouraged by what he saw during July's action, and was eager to see what was to come next in upstate New York next month.

“I can't wait until Saratoga,” he said. “I cannot wait until Monday and Tuesday night because we have a really great catalogue. We had a good catalogue here and we saw the reaction to the physicals on the sales grounds over the last couple of days, particularly today. They don't have [prior] form but people want good horses and we've got good horses and we know there's plenty of competition for the good ones. So I am really, really pleased. Now we will start hustling for Saratoga buyers.”

Resolute Back On Top With $500K Maclean's Music Colt

When it comes to headlines at the nation's biggest sales, John Stewart's Resolute Stud certainly hasn't been far from them. Once again flexing his spending muscles during Tuesday's July Sale of selected yearlings, the buyer and his team extended to $500,000 for a colt by Maclean's Music. Offered as Hip 170, the chestnut was consigned by Gainesway, acting as agent for Bridlewood Farm.

“When we saw him on the farm, we thought he was that kind of colt [that would bring this price],” said Gainesway's Brian Graves. “There are always a few anxious moments on the grounds, just with horses shipping in and getting acclimated but, in the end, we were expecting a price like that.”

Stewart was equally enthused about his Florida-bred purchase, his first acquisition at the July Sale.

“Everything I do is the first time,” he joked when asked about his initial foray at July. “I get to experience everything for the first time. It's a lot of fun.”

 

 

He continued, “[Hip 170] was one of the top five colts we came here to buy. We are a little light right now since we just started our breeding operation this year. We just shipped our first 2-year-olds that we bought in September to the trainers. We're a little light on the colts with our yearling stock and so we're looking to stock up on colts right now.”

The Mar. 11 foal is out of unraced Jotown (Speightstown), a  $550,000 purchase by Bridlewood at Keeneland September in 2017. A daughter of MGSW Jojo Warrior (Pioneerof the Nile), the 8-year-old mare is out of Carson Jen (Carson City), who is responsible for Grade I scorer A Z Warrior and GSW & GISP E Z Warrior, in addition to MSW and GSP J Z Warrior.

“The plan came together,” said Bridlewood General Manager George Isaacs. “I personally thought he was the type of colt that could potentially be a sales-topping type. Needless to say, it's an awesome result, we're tickled to death. We wanted to inject a bit of speed into the mare. Maclean's Music had Jackie's Warrior and Drain the Clock, we're big fans of his.”

Jotown is also responsible for Spiralizer (Twirling Candy), a $250,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase that flourished into a $550,000 OBS March graduate earlier this year. Trained by Steve Asmussen for Wathnan Racing, the colt won first time out at Churchill Downs June 13.

Outlining the team's process in tackling the yearling scene, Stewart said, “I focus on the pedigree side of things, and [advisors] Gavin [O'Connor] and Chelsey [Stone] focus more on the conformation side of things. We made a list of our top 50 horses and they came out and evaluated those horses and based on how all of that lines up, we decide what we're going to buy.”

In total, Resolute secured nine lots at the July Sale Tuesday–six colts and three fillies–for gross expenditures of $1.6 million. The operation also purchased a pair of yearlings by Complexity for $250,000 (Hip 108, filly) and (Hip 202, colt) and took advantage of the Freshman Sire showcase with a colt by Maxfield (Hip 1) and paid $60,000 for a colt by Uncle Chuck (Hip 60).

 

 

“There are a lot of quality horses here,” he said, remarking on the freshman class on offer at Fasig Tuesday. “It makes you excited with what's coming up at this year's crop of horses that are coming to the market.”

Regarding plans for his latest acquisitions, he added, “All of the ones we bought will go to the farm, we'll evaluate them and see where they are and when it's time to send them to pre-training, they will go to WinStar.”

According to Stewart, Resolute currently has 43 horses in training and a total of 120 Thoroughbreds. The businessman indicated he has every intention of expanding those numbers further before the end of the season.

“I'd like to have about 50-75 horses in training each year, and that's kind of what I'm building up this year,” he confirmed. “I made a significant investment in the industry last year and I am making another significant investment this year. I have 43 mares in foal this year, and I want that to be about 75-80. We've made a lot of progress this year, but we are still building.”

Asked his impressions of his first July sale, he admitted, “I actually think it's probably a little unattended here. The prices to me are a little low, that's why I think we're getting some bargains here as opposed to having bought something later this summer at Saratoga. It made sense to buy here.”–@CbossTDN

Justify Colt Brings $400K at Fasig July

A colt by Justify continued the march of success for his Triple Crown-winning sire when bringing $400,000 from Mickey Gonzalez's Golden Star Farm–the co-second highest-priced yearling of the afternoon–at the Fasig-Tipton July Sale Tuesday. Consigned by Gainesway Farm, Hip 168 is out of Indygita (Indygo Shiner). This represents the extended family of MGSW and GISP Chapel of Dreams (Northern Dancer), a half-sister to leading sire Storm Cat.

 

 

In 2023, Justify was represented by 69 yearlings sold who averaged of $290,942 with a median of $260,000. This term, his juveniles averaged $583,257 for 14 head sold for a median of $375,000.

During Tuesday's session, Gainesway Farm sold 16 head for a gross of $3,132,000, including the session topper Hip 170, a colt by Maclean's Music that brought $500,000. The consignment had eight yearlings sell for over $200,000, including Hip 114, a colt by McKinzie for $275,000; Hip 107, a filly by Liam's Map for $225,000, Hip 271, a colt by Twirling Candy for $220,000 and Hip 231, a colt by City of Light that also brought $220,000.–@CbossTDN

Uncle Mo Colt To Mayberry Farm

April Mayberry struck mid-session for Hip 135, a colt by Uncle Mo who sold on a final bid of $400,000. Out of a graded stakes-placed full-sister to GII Oakhawn Handicap winner Inside Straight (Super Saver) and half-sister to GII Santa Ynez Stakes winner Dance Daily (Five Star Day), the colt was bred by Meg Dumaine, who purchased his dam for $150,000 at Keeneland November in 2017.

“I love Uncle Mo,” said Mayberry. “He's beautiful and well balanced with a nice way of going. There really wasn't anything not to like. The Uncle Mo's are lovely. They're very smart, which I appreciate, and they have a good brain. I think you have to have a good brain on top of the ability. They're really nice to work with and usually very pretty.”

 

 

The $400,000 watermark marked the highest sale of the session to that point and matched about what Mayberry was expecting to pay for the colt consigned by Dumaine's Funny Farm KY LLC.

“[The price] was actually a maybe a little lower than expected. I think [the price] was right in the middle of what we thought. He'll go home [to Mayberry Farm] and just hang out for awhile. We'll give him some time and we'll break him in the fall like everyone else. He'll go to the races for us. He looks like an early horse for us but it'll depend on our client's program as it's not necessarily what they're looking for. The horse is going to tell us what they want to do but to me, he looks very early.”

Yaupon, a son of Uncle Mo who brings his first yearlings to sale this year, had marked success Tuesday and Mayberry was one of many interested in his progeny as well as Uncle Mo as a sire of sires.

“We liked the Yaupons quite a bit. In fact, we had a couple that we were interested in but for various reasons, they didn't work out. I think [Hip 135] was very typical of his sire. I like when you can see the sire in them.” —@SGrimmTDN

Not This Time Has Top Filly

Hip 199, a filly by Not This Time consigned by Blandford Stud (Padraig Campion) as agent, put up the highwater mark for the fillies later in the session at $320,000. Bred by Killora Stud and purchased by the Flying Dutchmen, the filly is out of the unraced Uncle Mo mare Mo Champagne who sold for $300,000 in foal to Justify at Keeneland January earlier this year after Killora had purchased her for just $90,000 at Keeneland January in 2017. The dam is a half to a pair of Grade I winners in millionaire Majestic Harbor (Rockport Harbor) and GI Arkansas Derby winner Danza (Street Boss). Mo Champagne is also a half to the dam of both GSW Totally Boss (Street Boss) and GSW Super Steed (Super Saver).  —@SGrimmTDN

 

Strong Showing For Spendthrift's First-Crop Yearlings Sires

Spendthrift Farm saw strong demand Tuesday for their new stallions during the first-crop sire showcase early in the session. Yearlings by Yaupon, who had a $450,000 weanling and a pair of $400,000 weanlings sell during Keeneland November last year,  were highly sought after and brought top price, highlighted by Ballysax Bloodstock-consigned Hip 82 who sold for $285,000 to De Meric Sales and Hip 45 out of the Taylor Made Sales consignment who got a final bid of $275,000 from U.S. Racing Stables.

 

 

“Yaupon is very, very consistent,” said Spendthrift's Ned Toffey. “Since last November [when his first weanlings sold], we've seen that he's very consistent in the type that he throws. They look a lot like him. They're very athletic, have great bone and they look precocious–it's a very commercial type. It doesn't surprise me at all that they've sold the way they have. It's just a continuation of what we've already seen.”

Spendthrift also enjoyed success Tuesday with By My Standards, who was represented by Hip 37, a colt consigned by Buckland Sales as agent for $200,000.

“By My Standards didn't get the numbers and he started at a little lower price point. So while we didn't have the sample size, I know from talking with our breeders and getting out and seeing these offspring that we're really, really pleased with what we're seeing. It's not surprising at all that he can have some very nice individuals.” —@SGrimmTDN

Maxfield Colt Reaps Pinhook Score for Gonzalez

The action had barely kicked off Tuesday for the July Sale of Selected Yearlings when Hip 1, a colt by freshman sire Maxfield entered the ring. While not usually considered advantageous to be first out of the box, the son of Abundant Flurry (Midshipman) overcame those lingering biases when selling for $220,000 to Resolute Bloodstock LLC. Consigned by Legacy Bloodstock, the dark bay colt represented a career-best pinhooking score for Ocala-based horseman Jorge Gonzalez.

“That colt looked like a 2-year-old–he was huge,” said Resolute's John Stewart. “He's a great physical, looks fantastic and he was highly rated in our system. We're really excited about him.”

Making this week even more special, Gonzalez also became a first-time father with a son this past Saturday, capping what he termed a 'rollercoaster' week.

“It's been a very special week,” he enthused.

Of Tuesday's success, he added, “I didn't have much money and I knew I would have to work with whatever issues the horse had. He had a few little issues, which probably turned some people off, but I decided to take a chance. And it worked out. It's a lot of luck.”

 

 

Bred by Lothenbach Stables and offered as part of the operation's complete dispersal at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale in February, the Feb. 6 foal was purchased for a mere $13,000 at that venue. Out of a half-sister to Grade III winner Cigar Street (Street Sense), the yearling hails from the family of two-time Horse of the Year Cigar.

“This colt was pretty correct, and I just liked the way he was moving,” recalled Gonzalez. “But I found myself going against a lot of people in buying this horse [in February]. As an individual, the horse was very nice, but the vetting wasn't great so I decided to take my chance, according to my pocket.”

A Florida resident for over two decades, Gonzalez has served much of that time as an exercise rider at several high-profile Ocala training operations, including Crupi's New Castle Farm and Kinsman Farm. Gonzalez, who rents a few stalls at a facility in Ocala, currently has five horses making up his equine investment portfolio.

“Right now, I am doing a little more pinhooking with yearlings,” he explained. “But I also have pinhooked 2-year-olds in training.”

Offering a single yearling at this year's July Sale, Gonzalez confirmed that there will be a few more at this venue in October and at OBS this summer.

Commenting on the allure of the colt's sire Maxfield, Gonzalez explained, “I liked [the sire] because he's a big and powerful horse. And people like the new sires.”

When asked to sum up Tuesday's profitable afternoon, Gonzalez said, “This is all such a joy. I really love what I do. Things just took off recently and I am fortunate enough to sell the horse today. It's nice to be rewarded for taking the chance.”–@CbossTDN

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