By Jessica Martini
LEXINGTON, Ky – The Fasig-Tipton October Fall Yearlings Sale concluded its record-setting four-day run at Newtown Paddocks Thursday with the auction’s highest-ever gross and average.
“Overall, I thought it was a very vibrant horse sale,” Fasig-Tipton’s President Boyd Browning, Jr. said Thursday evening. “The activity literally through the very last horse through the ring was significant. It’s pretty remarkable to be up 40% in terms of gross. It was a really encouraging horse sale from our perspective. The yearling season started off strong and it finished off strong. And it demonstrated strength throughout.”
Through four sessions, Fasig-Tipton sold 981 yearlings for a gross of $35,812,900–up from $25,691,500 a year ago and besting the previous record gross of $30,006,200 set in 2014. The average of $36,507 was up 10.4% from last year’s three-day total of $33,065 and topped the previous record of $35,850, also set in 2014. With 1,461 catalogued this year compared to 1,256 a year ago, the median dipped 17.2% to $12,000. The buy-back rate was 22.6%.
Led by a pair of co-topping $350,000 colts, a total of 17 yearlings sold for $200,000 or more during the 2016 auction. That top price was bettered by five yearlings in 2017, including the $700,000 sale topper by Medaglia d’Oro. In all, 35 yearlings sold for $200,000 or more this year.
“I think there were a lot of happy faces from consignors and a lot of people who had meaningful and significant sales this year,” Browning said. “I think the most encouraging thing from our perspective is knowing you can bring a legitimate horse here and get paid real money. It gives everybody confidence in the marketplace going forward to further access sales placement to make sure they get the right horses in the right places. If you have a horse who might need a little time from a maturity standpoint, you don’t have to push. You’ll be rewarded for doing the right thing for the horse and bringing it to a venue like this. Buyers were enthusiastic with the quality of horses on the grounds. And we are appreciative of the consignors for doing that.”
Trainer Mark Casse was active throughout the four-day sale and purchased three of the top four lots Thursday, including a $400,000 co-topping son of Curlin.
“This sale is getting more and more good horses,” Casse said. “It shows that these guys know they can come here and sell a horse for a lot of money. Next year, with the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill, this sale will be even stronger.”
Mike Ryan purchased a son of Into Mischief for a co-topping final price of $400,000 Thursday.
“For the good ones, it’s exceptional,” Ryan said of the market. “People are very well-prepared. They are very thorough. They know what they want and they are prepared to pay well for the good stock. The rest of it is tough. People want good horses.”
John Greathouse, whose Glencrest Farms sold the day’s highest-priced filly, a $260,000 daughter of Into Mischief, said there was still plenty of participation on the auction’s final day.
“I think if you have a nice horse that vets well, it brings fair money or better,” Greathouse said. “And there is even money for lesser horses, which is really nice because they don’t all come out looking perfect. There is somebody at every level. When you have people playing at the lower level, they can still get in there and buy horses. This sale can sometimes be tricky for the lower end, but this year, I think it’s been fairly strong throughout. You get later in the sale and you’re in the fourth day with a nice horse, you’ve got to think you’re ok, but you don’t know how much money is left after the year that everybody has had. It’s been consistent today. There has been a lot of money floating around.”
Into Mischief Colt to Ryan
Mike Ryan continued his busy yearling buying season with the purchase of a colt by Into Mischief for $400,000 during Thursday’s final session of the October sale. The colt was consigned by Gerry Dilger’s Dromoland Farm and as Dilger shook Ryan’s hand after the transaction, the buyer told the seller, “He’s a hell of a horse, Gerry. A hell of a horse.”
The yearling (hip 1178) is out of the unraced Im Cruising Dixie (Dixie Union) and is a half-brother to multiple stakes-placed Mezzano (Mizzen Mast). He reminded Ryan of another of his Into Mischief purchases, multiple Grade I winner Practical Joke.
“He’s very much like Practical Joke,” Ryan, who purchased the yearling Thursday on behalf of an undisclosed client, said. “He’s just a little bit taller and a little bit longer, but a very similar horse. He’s got a great frame and great substance and a beautiful head. I think he’ll get 1 1/8 miles and he could get further. I think he was the best Into Mischief colt I’ve seen this year. We are delighted to get him.”
Dilger purchased the bay colt for $270,000 as a short yearling at this year’s Keeneland January sale.
“I bought him as a weanling and I paid a bit of money for him because a lot of other people also thought he was very nice when I bought him,” Dilger smiled. “And he grew and he lengthened. He’s full of energy.”
The yearling RNA’d for $335,000 at last month’s Keeneland September sale.
“He has changed a little bit [since September],” Dilger said. “But I was in a position where I was in a real tight squeeze over there and the horse never got to relax because all the horses were very close, there was no separation. We showed him Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but it was very, very busy there and it just took him out of his game a little bit. When I was bringing him over to Keeneland, I thought he was one of the top three horses that I had there. But I’m delighted with the result [Thursday]. And I’m delighted Mike Ryan got him. Hopefully, he’ll go on and do just as well with Mike.”
Casse Strikes for Curlin Colt
Trainer Mark Casse remained active during Thursday’s final of four sessions of the Fasig-Tipton October sale, paying a co-session topping $400,000 to secure a colt by Curlin on behalf of a partnership.
“Curlin is just a super sire and this is a really pretty colt,” Casse said after signing the ticket on hip 1365. “He’s a Canadian-bred, which never hurts our feelings. Maybe he’ll win the Queen’s Plate.”
Bred by Josham Farms, the chestnut colt is out of multiple graded stakes-placed Mekong Delta (Stormy Atlantic), a full-sister to Canadian champion juvenile colt Leonnatus Anteas.
The yearling was consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency.
“He’s a lovely horse,” Hill ‘n’ Dale’s John Sikura said. “He’s smooth, an effective mover. He had a great presence and was bought by a world-class trainer.”
The colt RNA’d for $190,000 at last month’s Keeneland September sale.
“He has thrived and done well and done better every day,” Sikura said of the time between sales. “Horses develop on their own, not based on sales dates. Donato [Lanni] saw the horse earlier in the year and thought he was a beautiful horse, but he went through an awkward stage. He really presented himself well here and got the scrutiny of a lot of really high-end buyers who know what they are doing.”
Of the October market, Sikura said, “It’s probably representative of what it is at all the sales. When they like your horse, there are multiple scopes, multiple buyers, and if they don’t, you’re sort of out there on your own. Fortunately, [hip 1365] was in the minority of offerings. He met expectations and all the right people liked the horse. Which is what you have to have at any stage of sale.”
Casse made one final purchase before heading to the airport for the trip to California and the Breeders’ Cup Thursday evening. The trainer bid $300,000 on behalf of John Oxley to secure a colt by Medaglia d’Oro (hip 1431), also from the Hill ‘n’ Dale consignment and also bred by Josham Farms. Out of Murani (Distorted Humor), the yearling is a half-brother to Oxley’s 2014 Canadian grass champion Dynamic Sky (Sky Mesa).
Casse purchased two yearlings under his own name on behalf of developing partnerships during the four-day auction, including Wednesday’s $700,000 sale-topping Medaglia d’Oro colt. He purchased two yearlings on behalf of John Oxley. In addition to hip 1431, he also purchased a Violence colt (hip 542) for $500,000 for Oxley. Casse was also active buying 10 yearlings for a total of $1,224,000 and an average of $122,400 on behalf of Tracy Farmer.
Mischief Pays for Glencrest
It was another strong showing in the sales ring for Into Mischief Thursday and trainer Mark Casse got into the action, purchasing a filly by the Spendthrift stallion for $260,000 on behalf of Tracy Farmer. The yearling, consigned by Four Star Sales, was purchased by the Greathouse family’s Glencrest Farm for $95,000 at this year’s Keeneland January sale. She was bought back at $165,000 at the Fasig-Tipton July Sale.
“I had a colt we bought in November and I bought this filly in January, so she was the second Into Mischief I owned,” said John Greathouse. “We didn’t make any money on the colt and we RNA’d her for $165,000 in July–that was probably the wrong spot for her. She has blossomed since. She got better. The three months really helped her. ”
The yearling is out of Limbo (A.P. Indy) and is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner and graded stakes-placed Gentleman Chester (Chester House) and to stakes winner Back Forty (Speightstown).
“She is a lovely filly,” Greathouse said. “I thought the world of her. She is a big, two-turn-looking filly for an Into Mischief. And out of an A.P. Indy mare, you’d have to think she’ll stretch out.”
You can count Greathouse among the many admirers of Into Mischief, who was also responsible for a $400,000 co-session topping colt Thursday.
“I think the horse is the next Tapit,” Greathouse said of Into Mischief. “I think he improves mares left and right. He’s proven it time and time again and I think he is going to continue to do so. It’s a question of whether you can get them to stretch out or not, but I think he’s a hell of a sire.”
After a string of 2017 pinhooking successes, which included a pair of scores at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, Greathouse is looking ahead to restocking with weanlings at the upcoming bloodstock sales.
“As far as our pinhooks go, you win some, you lose some, but all in all it’s been a pretty profitable year,” he said. “So we get to play again. Which is the nicest part. I think it’s going to be very difficult to buy in November and January, whether it be mares or weanlings or racehorses. The market is strong and there is money to be made. It’s stronger than it was last year. The whole yearling sales season, even the 2-year-old sales season, was strong. It’s been consistent, which is nice. You can count on the market staying that way for the next six months.”
Breeding Score for Bell
Gatewood Bell usually is on the signing end of sales, but the bloodstock agent enjoyed success as a breeder Thursday at Fasig-Tipton when selling a filly by Creative Cause for $130,000 to Tracy Farmer. The yearling (hip 1296) is out of Lignite (Run Away and Hide), a mare Bell owns in partnership with trainer Wesley Ward, Bret Jones, Wes Welker and Drew Fleming.
“I bought Lignite here in July six years ago for the same group,” Bell explained. “We bought a horse just about every year. We bought Nina Fever [in 2009], then Gypsy Robin [in 2010] and then Lignite was the one for the next year. We raced her, she broke her maiden at Saratoga opening day and then won a race at Kentucky Downs. She was pretty nice, actually. Then we just decided to breed out of her. So we bred her to Creative Cause.”
Lignite went through the sales ring, but was bought back for $25,000 at the 2014 Keeneland November sale.
“I thought the mare had a lot of talent and we tried to sell her, but we thought she was worth more than that, so we bought her back,” Bell said.
The mare’s first foal by Creative Cause sold for $10,500 at last year’s Keeneland January sale.
“The first foal was small, kind of a first foal, and it was kind of unlucky,” Bell said. “But this filly was nice and she’s gotten better with every day for the last year. So it’s good to see her get in good hands.”
Lignite produced a colt by Algorithms this year and was bred back to Creative Cause.
While Lignite is currently the only broodmare Bell owns, he said he would have no problem doing more breeding in the future.
“Yes,” he laughed. “If I could afford it, I’d love to do more breeding.”