By Jessica Martini
Fasig-Tipton, which has been forced to shuffle its traditional calendar of yearling auctions due to the global pandemic, has released a catalogue of 662 head for its Selected Yearlings Showcase, which will be held Sept. 9 and 10 at its Newtown Paddocks in Lexington. Fasig-Tipton cancelled its three select sales–the July, Saratoga and New York-Bred Sales–and the showcase auction will be its only select sale of 2020.
“We are thrilled with the overall quality of the catalogue, both in terms of the pedigree and the physical conformation of the horses,” Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr. said Monday afternoon. “We couldn't be any more pleased to have this group of horses on display in the showcase this year.”
Hips one through 330 will be offered during Wednesday's first session of the showcase sale and hips 331-662 will be offered during the second session Thursday. The sale will begin with a group of New York-bred yearlings, which are catalogued as hips 1-164.
Of expectations when the first-ever showcase was announced at the end of April, Browning added, “I didn't have any preconceived notions, per se. I don't think any of us knew what to expect. I will say though, if somebody had told me that we would be able to put together a group of horses of this quantity with this quality, I would have been ecstatic. The support that we've received from our consignors and the men and women who own top yearlings has been very gratifying and it's very much appreciated.”
With the coronavirus causing lockdowns across the globe and racing coming virtually to a halt this past spring, Fasig-Tipton was forced to scupper its Gulfstream 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale and its Santa Anita 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. The sales company produced a strong market when bidding returned with the Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale at the end of June and at its July Horses of Racing Age Sale. Those results, plus the return of high-class racing across the country, should provide buyers and sellers with a level of optimism heading into the showcase sale.
“Certainly the sales that we've conducted have been encouraging,” Browning said. “And it is sure nice to see quality racing taking place in Saratoga and Del Mar and Ellis Park and Gulfstream Park, literally all across the United States. I think that makes owners and trainers and participants in the industry feel much more confident than they did 45 days or so ago when there was inactivity, essentially paralysis. So I think that is obviously a very positive sign. The 2-year-old sales and the horses of racing age sales that have been conducted in June and July have shown the resiliency of the men and women who participate in this game and the love they have for it.”
Among the Fasig-Tipton graduates on the showcase catalogue's cover include GI Kentucky Derby contenders Tiz the Law (Constitution) and Honor A.P. (Honor Code), as well as GI Kentucky Oaks contender Speech (Mr Speaker). Browning said those graduates are indicative of the quality of offerings the company prides itself on.
“I think the buyers will be very impressed when they look at the catalogue online or on their iPads or when they get it in their hands,” he said. “More importantly, the buyers are going to be very impressed when they come on the sales grounds and look at the individuals. We've built our reputation–and we take pride in–the physical aspect of our selected sales and I think the results speak loudly with the success of our sales graduates. I am confident that people are going to come on these sales grounds and say, 'Wow. That is a really nice group of horses they've assembled for the Yearlings Showcase at Fasig-Tipton.'”
At both the Midlantic and July sales, Fasig-Tipton instituted safety protocols which included temperature checks, masks and social distancing.
As for what protocols participants should expect at the showcase, Browning said, “We are having multiple discussions on an everyday basis as more information is obtained and we see trends and movements in both the state of Kentucky and around the United States. We certainly want to make sure we conduct the sale in as safe an environment as we possibly can to give buyers and sellers alike the confidence to participate.”
Last week, Keeneland announced it would be requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test for people attending its September Yearling Sale. Asked if Fasig-Tipton would make a similar requirement, Browning reiterated, “We will continue to monitor the situation and finalize our protocols in upcoming days, but they have not been finalized at this time.”
Travel concerns and restrictions have limited international participation in auctions this spring, but both Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland have been coordinating with local officials to hopefully pave the way for foreign buyers to attend auctions this fall.
“Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland are working closely with the KTA and the Breeders' Cup and the NTRA, along with government officials, Senator [Mitch] McConnell's office and Representative [Andy] Barr's office to try to obtain some waivers for key participants in foreign countries to be able to attend the sale,” Browning said. “That process is ongoing and will continue to be ongoing and we will hopefully receive some positive news. I think it will be a situation that looms between now and the time of the sales in September and it is going to depend on each individual's assessment of their level of comfort with regards to travel.”
Fasig-Tipton will unveil its newly updated Enhanced Catalogue platform for the showcase. A traditional offering at its November and July Horses of Racing Age sales, the Enhanced Catalogue will be available beginning in late August with walking videos of all yearlings available for viewing beginning Sept. 2.
Fasig-Tipton, which introduced online bidding for the first time at its Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, will again offer buyers the opportunity to bid online at the showcase.
The showcase catalogue may be viewed at www.fasig-tipton.com.