By Jessica Martini
TIMONIUM, MD – The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, whose graduates have been hitting on all cylinders on the racetrack recently, begins Monday morning at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. A total of 603 juveniles have been catalogue for the two-day auction and bidding begins at 11 a.m sessions Monday and Tuesday.
“There has been a lot of interest and we have the right people here–either they have been here or their agents have been here to watch the horses breeze,” Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sales Director Paget Bennett said at the sales barns Sunday morning. “So we are cautiously optimistic.”
In addition to GI Kentucky Derby winner Mage (Good Magic), who sold for $290,000 in Timonium last May, the Midlantic auction was represented by a pair of graded stakes winners at Pimlico this past weekend, with Straight No Chaser (Speightster) winning the GIII Maryland Sprint S. and Maple Leaf Mel (Cross Traffic) taking the GIII Miss Preakness S. Another 2022 graduate of the sale, multiple graded-stakes winner Faiza (Girvin) was third in the GII Black-Eyed Susan S.
“It just tells you, you can get any kind of horse out of this sale,” Bennett said of the auction's impressive roster of graduates. “It's just huge. It's so rewarding to have this sale finally get the attention that it deserves.”
The Midlantic sale has become the only major 2-year-old auction to conduct its under-tack show over a dirt track, which could be an added attraction to buyers, according to Bennett.
“They want to see them on dirt and then they can figure out how that relates to where they go next,” she said. “From start to finish, they see them on the surface that they are going to run on.”
A common refrain from consignors Sunday, however, was a question mark about how buyers would react to the times of the works from last week's three-day under-tack show.
“My main worry is what the buyers are taking away from the breeze show because it wasn't the usual 2-year-old breeze show where the track is fast,” said consignor Cary Frommer. “It was just a normal track. And those were good times on a normal track. I am afraid the buyers aren't going to make the correlation. But the smart ones will.
She continued, “The first day there was certainly more moisture in the track, it was a little bit sticky. The second day there was a great tailwind and the third day there was a headwind. That's mother nature. If you take those things into consideration, you're fine. But if you're strictly a numbers person, you are going to miss some really good horses.”
Carlos Manresa of Sequel Bloodstock agreed buyers should take conditions from day to day of the under-tack show into consideration.
“They did a very good job maintaining the track,” Manresa said. “I think the weather conditions were very inconsistent. But I think the buyers have a good read on those kinds of things. I think they are very aware of what day horses were breezing and what time they were breezing. If you went on the second day, they look at those numbers a little bit differently than they do on the first day and third day horses.”
Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables sent out 17 horses to work over the track in Timonium last week. Without the super-fast works that have become common at the juvenile sales, Dunne hopes buyers will spread their interest out over a wider swath of horses.
“The racetrack wasn't like any of us had expected in terms of how fast it was,” Dunne said. “But the fact that everyone went the same, I think it's making the buyers work harder. And maybe that will spread them out more.”
Sequel Bloodstock had a notable 2022 Midlantic consignment, which featured the $3.55-million sale topper Hejazi (Bernardini), as well as Derby winner Mage. The operation returns with 11 juveniles this year.
Manresa is expecting a strong top market this week in Maryland, while hoping for a broader middle market.
“I've seen significant buyers here who are wanting to spend a lot of money,” Manresa said. “I think the top end, as usual, will be very strong. The middle market, we will have to wait and see if something develops there. That's always been the more difficult area to sell horses and I don't think this sale is going to be any different.”
The Midlantic sale's setting at the confluence of a number of different tracks–from Maryland to Pennsylvania and New York–makes it easily accessible to regional buyers and could help boost that middle market.
“I think we get a lot of New York trainers turning out for this sale,” Manresa said. “There are a lot of people who come to our consignment specifically looking for New York-breds, which is helpful for us. So I think regional-breds tend to do very well here at this sale.”
With six Maryland-breds and a handful of New York-breds, Frommer is also looking to take advantage of the regional market.
“I know Maryland is in a little bit of turmoil right now and I have a lot of Maryland-breds–and some really nice Maryland-breds, so it remains to be seen [how strong the regional market will be],” Frommer said. “There is always a nice string of people from New York coming down this way. And that's always good. But we will see. I am hoping it will be strong.”
Jorge Villagomez's JVC Training and Sales, which debuted its consignment in Timonium in 2018, returns with a seven-horse consignment this year.
Villagomez was finding activity brisk at the sales barns Sunday morning.
“It's been steady,” he said. “We've been busy all morning. All the big buyers are here and the good horses are showing. We have seven horses and we've been busy with all of them.”
Of his under-tack show results, Villagomez said, “They all performed well. And the good ones showed up. The ones that were fast on the farm, went fast here.”
Villagomez, who preps horses for Gary and Mary West at his Ocala base, worked with Eisaman Equine for 15 years before going out on his own six years ago.
“It was our first consignment here in 2018,” Villagomez said. “We came in with three horses and we sold all three of them. We have been coming every year since.”