Authentic Filly Sets the Bar at Fasig-Tipton July

Hip 174 | Fasig-Tipton

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LEXINGTON, KY – The Fasig-Tipton July Sale of Selected Yearlings failed to live up to its lofty 2022 levels, but concluded Tuesday evening with solid numbers and a filly from the first crop of GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic leading the way when selling for $475,000 to Alex and Jo Ann Lieblong.

“We had a very solid start to the 2023 yearling sales marketplace,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “I think we all recognized that we were coming off a euphoric 2022 yearling marketplace that saw pretty significant increases across the board from July all the way to October. I think we got a little bit of a reality adjustment here and I think we saw that coming in the 2-year-old marketplace this year. But it's still a very healthy marketplace.”

A total of 207 yearlings sold Tuesday for a gross of $20,507,000. The average of $99,068 declined 14% from last year's figure of $115,151–which was the second highest in sale's history; and the median fell 14.4% to $77,000–down from last year's record-tying figure of $90,000

“The average declined a little bit from last year and the median decreased from last year and the RNA rate was slightly up,” Browning said. “But the buyers were complaining they couldn't buy what they wanted to buy and they had to pay too much for the ones that they bought. The sellers were saying it was hard to get their horses sold and they wished they could have gotten more money. So that means it's a pretty fair and balanced marketplace.”

The buy-back rate, which was 23.8% last year, rose to 31.9% Tuesday.

“What has traditionally impacted our RNA rate over the last 10 years [at the July sale] is that sellers have another option,” Browning said. “We have a really strong marketplace in October, three months down the road, so they can be a little more bullish sometimes in setting their reserves in July. Which might create a little higher RNA rate, but all in all, I thought it was a fair market.”

While 32 yearlings sold for $200,000 or more at the 2022 July sale, only 21 hit that mark in 2023.

The Lieblongs made the highest purchase of the July sale, going to $475,000 to acquire a filly by Authentic from the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment. Taylor Made sold the filly on behalf of her breeder, Spendthrift Farm, which stands the 2020 GI Kentucky Derby winner.

Among the other first-crop sires near the top of the results sheets, a filly by Three Chimneys' Volatile sold for $285,000 to Ken McPeek. Gainesway's McKinzie and Spun to Run, as well as Spendthrift's Thousand Words and Vekoma all had yearlings sell for $200,000 or more.

Authentic Filly Sets Off July Fireworks

A filly from the first crop of GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic (hip 174) lit up the Fasig-Tipton sales ring Tuesday when selling for $475,000 to Alex and Jo Ann Lieblong. The bay filly is out of Scent of Summer (Rock Hard Ten), a half-sister to multiple Grade I winner Paradise Woods (Union Rags). She was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency on behalf of her breeder, Spendthrift Farm.

“She just looked like a physical standout, she looked like a 2-year-old,” Lieblong said. “But evidently, everybody else thought so, too. She was from a good consignor and she carried herself well, but I also liked the family.”

Lieblong, who also paid $200,000 for a filly from the first crop of Spun to Run, admitted he liked buying yearlings by freshman sires.

“I like the first-crop sires,” he said. “I figure that's about the last shot you've got. You're not going to get a shot at Good Magic now, but you still have a shot with the first-crop sires.”

Spendthrift purchased Scent of Summer for $350,000 at the 2019 Keeneland January sale.

“That was a filly that we were very proud of,” Spendthrift general manager Ned Toffey said of the yearling. “We really debated on what sale to put her in, where she would make the most sense. And we thought, let's take her out to July and try to make a little bit of a splash. The thought was that she might be good enough for Saratoga, but let's bring her out here and see if we can't be a really big fish in a smaller pond. Since we've made that decision, she's done nothing but improve. It's always interesting on these yearlings, in these last six weeks, they can just come together beautifully for you or fall to pieces. But everything came together really nicely. She showed herself nicely out here and had plenty of interest. And Taylor Made did a great job presenting her out here.”

The mare's 2-year-old colt by Hard Spun sold to trainer Ron Ellis for $325,000 at this year's OBS March sale.

A son of Into Mischief, Authentic won the 2020 GI Kentucky Derby and GI Breeders' Cup Classic and stands at Spendthrift for $60,000. He was the leading first-crop sire of weanlings last season when his first foals averaged $242,692.

“If you are breeding to him, I think a lot of people are getting what you'd expect,” Toffey said. “They are a little bit lighter, racier and leggier version of Into Mischief. That's exactly how I would describe Authentic and I think that's what he seems to be throwing. They have good substance, plenty of leg, good scope. They are really well-balanced and very athletic.”

Good Magic Colt a Score for Three Counties

Aidan and Hannah Jennings continued to add to their pinhooking scores when partnering with Charles Hynes to sell a colt by Good Magic (hip 175) for $370,000 to Travis Boersma's Boardshorts Stables during Tuesday's Fasig-Tipton July sale. The partners had purchased the chestnut colt under the name Three Counties Bloodstock for $49,000 at last year's Keeneland November sale.

“[Hynes] is from Roscommon and myself, I'm from Galway,” Aidan Jennings explained of the name, before looking at his wife and adding, “And Hannah is from…”

Hannah Jennings added with a laugh, “San Diego.”

Aidan Jennings said, “It's just a bit of sport.”

The couple said they went into the weanling sales last year specifically looking to buy a foal by Good Magic.

“We were eager to get one last year, but we got outbid on most of them,” Aidan Jennings said. “He fit the bill.”

The yearling, who was consigned Tuesday by Padraig Campion's Blandford Stud, is out of Scolding (Carpe Diem), who was a $475,000 OBS April purchase in 2019 and was a first-out winner for trainer Steve Asmussen in 2020.

“The dam was very sharp and she was very fast as a breezer as well,” Aidan Jennings said. “She won first time out for Asmussen and was a 'TDN Rising Star.' She looked like anything. Unfortunately, she didn't fulfill that potential, but she had it. This horse kind of looked sharp and we were hoping the stallion would kick on. We were very lucky. We get plenty wrong, so it's good when it works out.”

Hannah Jennings gave her partners credit for picking the colt out last fall.

“I was 39 weeks pregnant, so it was all the boys who bought the horse,” she said. “So all of the credit to them. Padraig got everyone together and figured July would be the right spot for him. He was precocious and the stallion had done well, obviously with Mage winning the Derby.”

Just weeks before they were married in 2021, the Jennings enjoyed a career day in the pinhooking arena. At that year's Keeneland September sale, they sold a Violence colt, who had been purchased for $65,000 for $165,000; a Nyquist colt purchased for $40,000 for $200,000; a colt by Accelerate purchased for $110,000 for $200,000; and a Kantharos colt purchased for $125,000 for $250,000.

Now the couple has even more good mojo in their corner with their newborn daughter.

“She's a good luck charm actually,” Aidan Jennings said. “The first race we took her to, we had a winner and we took her to the first breeze-up and that was great.”

Later in Tuesday's auction, trainer Wesley Ward secured another colt by Good Magic, going to $330,000 to acquire hip 276 from the Cara Bloodstock consignment. Bred by Saintsbury Farms, the yearling is out of Bola de Cristal (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}).

Blame Colt, Volatile Filly Lead McPeek July Haul

Trainer Ken McPeek, perennially a major presence at the Fasig-Tipton July sale, acquired six yearlings Tuesday in Lexington. As agent for Chris Baccari and DWF, McPeek went to $310,000 to purchase a colt by Blame (hip 289) from the Gainesway consignment. Bred by Green Lantern Stables, the bay is out of Barbara Gordon (Commissioner).

McPeek also purchased the auction's second most expensive yearling by a first crop sire when going to $285,000 for a daughter of Three Chimneys' Volatile (hip 235). The gray filly was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency. Out of Whisper to Me (Thunder Gulch), she is a half-sister to graded winner Overheard (Macho Uno). She was bred by Craig Singer, who purchased Whisper to Me carrying the foal for $65,000 at the 2021 dispersal of Pin Oak Stud

“I thought she was a real standout as an individual here,” McPeek said of the filly. “I love the stamp that Volatile put on her. She has a half-sister who is a nice stakes horse. And she physically looks like a stakes horse to me, too.”

Of the market at the first yearling sale of the year, McPeek said, “It's been very selective. We only had a dozen horses that we even considered bidding on today. We ended up with six and we have a couple left to bid on. It's been solid. We would have liked to see more horses on my final list, but it's all good. The better ones you had to pay a little bit more for, but that's typical. Overall, we are really pleased.”

First-Crop Sires Kick of July Sale

The Fasig-Tipton July sale, and the yearling sales season, kicked off in Lexington with an offering of some 100 youngsters by first-crop sires. And, while fillies by Authentic and Volatile attracted higher bids outside of the freshman sire showcase, it was Gainesway's McKinzie who was represented by the section's top-priced yearling when GS Inversiones Hipicas paid $260,000 for hip 71, a colt consigned by Denali Stud.

“We've been excited about McKinzie ever since the November sale started,” said Gainesway's Brian Graves. “His book was huge in the first year, the demand for him was huge. The second year, the demand was almost equal to the first year. And then, something that is very uncommon, in his third year, he had 170 mares. And that was based on how good-looking the first crop of foals were in November. He was the second leading freshman sire by average at the sale, just second to Authentic whose stud fee is over twice what his is. It's a good indication that people really liked what they saw. I think it's going to be the same case at the yearling sales, if not better because there are going to be more of them on offer. And what we've seen going around looking at all of them is very encouraging.”

A four-time Grade I winner, McKinzie stands at Gainesway for a fee of $30,000. The stallion had 36 weanlings sell last year for an average of $134,307.

Gainesway's Spun to Run also had a strong showing during the July sale's freshman showcase. The GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner, who stands for $10,000, had three six-figure yearlings Tuesday. Leading the group was hip 66, a filly consigned by Summerfield and purchased for $200,000 by Alex and Jo Ann Lieblong.

“I haven't honestly seen all of them yet, but I like the way the first ones started,” Graves said of Spun to Run's first crop of yearlings. “He's got all of the credentials. He was a fast horse by a proven horse in Hard Spun. We are hopeful he speaks for himself.”

Trainer Neil Pessin, bidding on behalf of Bob Lothenbach, went to $125,000 to acquire a colt by Spun to Run (hip 26) from the Elite consignment. Pessin also took home another son of a first-crop sire when going to $200,000 to purchase a dark bay colt by Vekoma (hip 174) from the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment.

“I look for athletic, well-balanced horses with a decent walk,” Pessin said, while admitting the first-crop sire angle was purely a coincidence. “The sires don't mean as much to me. I think it's 70% the dam, 30% the sire. I just look for a good athlete. This is the sale we bought [GISW] Bell's the One out of, so we come here and look quite a bit.”

Of the colt by Vekoma, Pessin said, “He is athletic and not real wide, but he's got a nice butt on him. And he has a good walk. That's what I look for when I come looking for yearlings. We can live with some conformational flaws if they walk through it. It was the same with the Spun to Run colt. He's a nice, good-looking athlete. That's what we go for.”

While some buyers may hope to find a bargain buying yearlings by first-crop sires, Pessin felt he paid plenty for the two colts.

“I feel we overpaid for both,” he said. “We went above what we were planning to spend on both of them. But if we didn't like them, we wouldn't be bidding on them. And so if we go a little over, it's ok. But we don't want to go a lot over.”

Pessin's $200,000 bid for hip 64 led a series of strong results for Spendthrift's Vekoma, who stands for $15,000, and appeared to catch the eye of a number of pinhookers. Ciaran Dunne's Waves Bloodstock partnership purchased hip 33, a colt by the stallion consigned by Taylor Made, for $175,000 and Luis Garcia and Gina Fennell went to $155,000 to acquire hip 98, a colt consigned by Shawhan Place.

“We love Vekoma, but mainly it was the colt's pedigree that we liked,” Garcia said of the yearling whose dam Happy Now (Mr. Greeley) is a half-sister to graded winner Ironicus, among others.

Of Vekoma, Garcia said, “He is by Candy Ride and that horse was great. He had a lot of speed and obviously we are trying to pinhook, so we love that. We loved Vekoma when he was running.”

Spendthrift Farm's Ned Toffey admitted Vekoma's early results in the sales ring were exceeding the operation's expectations.

“Vekoma, with that sire line, they aren't always the most spectacular physicals, so it was a little tricky to know what we were going to get,” Toffey said. “But as soon as those foals started to hit the ground last year, we have just been overwhelmed by the feedback from breeders. And that's carried right on through. I thought it was a very solid group that was out here and I keep hearing about more. So I expect him to have a very, very good sales season.”

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