Bidding Back in the Bluegrass with Fasig-Tipton’s Horses of Racing Age Sale Monday

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Newtown Paddocks | Fasig-Tipton photo

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The Fasig-Tipton July Horses of Racing Age Sale, which has steadily built momentum through its first seven years, comes smack up against the swirling uncertainty of a global pandemic when it returns for its eighth renewal at the company’s Newtown Paddocks Monday afternoon. The catalogue for the one-session auction, bolstered by the late addition of recent stakes winners, includes 182 offerings. Bidding begins at 4 p.m.

Consignors seemed eager to get back to business ahead of the auction, but were cautious about expectations.

“This sale is getting more popular every year and I think you are seeing some better horses sold in it, but it’s hard to say what this year will bring,” admitted Claiborne Farm’s Walker Hancock. “I don’t know who will be able to show up, but I know Fasig is going to provide the buyers with all the opportunities they can, whether it’s online bidding or phone bidding. We are doing videos for all of our horses, so even if you can’t make it to the sales grounds, hopefully you’ll be able to view them online and we’ll be able to provide any information the buyers may be looking for if they can’t be here in person.”

Fasig-Tipton debuted its online bidding platform during the recent Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale and will again offer out-of-town buyers the chance to bid online Monday. Hancock agreed the horses of racing age sales were a natural fit for on-line shopping.

“Yearlings, weanlings and mares are a little different,” he said. “With horses of racing age, you can just go and watch the races. As long as they vet, which you can get your vet to look at those online, you’re buying off results and have more information than when you are just looking for potential.”

The Horses of Racing Age sale has, since its inception, been conducted in tandem with Fasig-Tipton’s July Yearling Sale. With the yearling auction cancelled this year and travel restrictions still in place in many locales, activity at the sales barns will be predictably down.

While there may be fewer people at the barns, that won’t necessarily be a factor in the sale’s final results, according to Mark Taylor of Taylor Made Sales Agency.

“With these racehorses, it’s easier to do your due diligence without physically being here,” Taylor said. “You can have the horse vetted, you can look at their PPs, you can watch the videos of their races and  you can make a buying decision very easily and you don’t have to physically be here. So I think the traffic is going to be way down from a typical year, but I think at the end of the day, people are going to be here to buy racehorses.”

Last year’s July sale was topped by Jalen Journey (With Distinction), who sold for $510,000 and only weeks later finished third in the GI Bing Crosby S. That sort of ready-to-run offering is what appeals to many shoppers at the horses of racing age sale, according to Gainesway’s Michael Hernon.

“I think we are operating in an uncertain time obviously, but people want the ready-made article,” Hernon said. “They don’t want to wait. And the racehorse sale provides a lot of opportunity for immediate results. Horses are ready to run who have established form and can run in the new buyer’s colors in a matter of weeks. There is strong demand for current racehorses who can proceed to their next race without delay.”

The Black Album (Fr) (Wooten Bassett {GB}), consigned by Bluewater Sales, was added to the catalogue following his win in the July 8 Jonathan B. Schuster Memorial S. While, Liam’s Pride (Liam’s Map) was the final horse added to Monday’s auction following his win in Friday’s Gold Fever S. at Belmont Park. He will be consigned by Elite Sales.

With racing virtually shut down for months this spring and opportunities still limited, the demand for horses will likely be down, according to Elite’s Brad Weisbord.

“I think it’s going to be a very tough year,” Weisbord said. “There are not as many racetracks that are open, so you have more horses in a smaller spot. You have owners who were hemorrhaging all through the COVID crisis with no racing, so they probably have too many horses on their hands. I think it’s going to be a very hard year to attract a huge buying pool.

He continued, “We have seen decreases across the board in the 2-year-old sales, somewhere in the 20-35% range, and I think by the time scratches hit and RNAs hit, I think this sale is going to be down, especially on average. It’s a very tough environment to recruit a horse, it’s a very tough environment to get a buyer excited about a horse. And I expect us to suffer through it for 2020. It’s a bad year for virtually everybody unless you are selling cleaning supplies. But we’ll get through it.”

A total of 95 horses sold at last year’s July sale for a gross of $6,548,500. The average was $68,932 and the median was $45,000.

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