By Jessica Martini
A filly by Tapwrit (hip 167) , who blazed a furlong in :9 4/5 during Monday's under-tack show, topped the Texas Thoroughbred Association's 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale when bringing a final bid of $300,000 from trainer Randy Morse Wednesday at Lone Star Park. Morse, fresh off a runner-up finish with Taxed (Collected) in Saturday's GIII Fantasy S., purchased the juvenile on behalf of owners Randy Patterson, Joe Morgan and Sam Vogel.
“She's fast,” Morse said of the filly's appeal. “The work was really good. There was a really strong headwind and for a horse to work :9 4/5 on dirt, that's impressive. And physically, she looks like an athlete. I loved her looks. But time will tell.”
Morse admitted he may have found a bargain at the Texas auction.
“Truthfully, I think if she'd been in Florida, she would have brought way more,” he said. “But just like any sale, if there is a good one, someone will show up.”
Consigned by Al Pike's Pike Racing, agent, the gray filly is out of Sky O'Blue (Henny Hughes). She was purchased by Susan Naylor Sellers for $60,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton July sale.
“She just had a presence to her,” Naylor said of the decision to purchase the filly last summer. “She was just a nice, balanced filly and had a good walk and looked like she might be fast.”
Naylor confirmed her intention was always to reoffer the filly at a 2-year-old sale.
“Absolutely. I am a pinhooker first and if I have to race them after that, I will,” she said.
Naylor has also had success with racing as her default. She was represented by a pair of horses in last year's Breeders' Cup; homebred Andthewinneris (Oscar Performance), who RNA'd for $67,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September sale and Manny Wah (Will Take Charge), who she purchased for $175,000 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton July sale.
“And I had to RNA two in this sale,” Naylor said with a chuckle. “Who knows, maybe you'll see us next year in the Breeders' Cup.”
The Texas sale seemed like a good fit for the speedy gray filly, according to Naylor.
“She looked like she would be early and fast,” Naylor explained. “And they aren't as judgmental down here. She did not have a whole lot of page, but neither did Bwana Charlie when we sold him down here in 2003. We paid $14,000 for him and sold him for $240,000, which was a lot back then. And I know they love grays down here, so I figured a gray filly that was fast, this would be the place for her. She wouldn't get lost.”
Of the filly's bullet breeze Monday, Naylor admitted, “We were blown away. She looked good doing it, but then they printed what it was–that doesn't happen very often. And especially with this track. This track used to be a lot faster back in the day, but it's not as fast as used to be.”
During the one-day auction, which had a catalogue of 193, a total of 103 juveniles sold for $3,420,000. The average was $33,204 and the median was $17,500. There were 64 horses reported not sold for a buy-back rate of 38.3%.
A year ago, from a catalogue of 144, 88 juveniles sold for $3,050,700. The average was $34,667 and the median was $28,000. There were 29 horses reported not sold for a buy-back rate of 24.8.
There were four horses sold for six figures a year ago, led by a $200,000 daughter of Free Drop Billy. Seven hit six figures Wednesday.
“We're truly fortunate to have had such quality offerings in our 2023 sale,” TTA Sales Director Foster Bridewell said. “It's a testament to the hard work and time put in by our sellers and teams behind these athletes. And we're grateful to our buyers locally, nationally, and internationally for supporting our sale.”
Still, with the uncertainty swirling around racing and Texas and its conflict with the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, Naylor admitted she wasn't sure what to expect from Wednesday's sale.
“I was a little shocked that [hip 167] would bring that much,” Naylor said. “It was a very odd sale. The sale last year was a little more balanced. But I think with all of the stuff in the news and all of the uncertainty with HISA and everything, a lot of the big hitters were not here. There were a handful, but a lot weren't here. There were a lot of nice pedigrees, but it seemed like everyone was sitting on their hands a little bit. I was really surprised to see they got as nice a book as they did and there seemed to be some nice individuals here, too. But I think we didn't quite get the buyers to show up this year.”