By the time the Fasig-Tipton July sale reached its conclusion Tuesday, two popular theories had proven to be dead-on.
As expected, the young and beautiful still managed to attract their share of suitors.
And, also as expected, those few gems still weren't enough to fully make up for a market still reeling from an economic meltdown.
For the second straight day, offspring of classic-producing stallions provided some bright spots in a tough yearling market.
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Two daughters of Medaglia d'Oro — the sire of Kentucky Oaks and Preakness Stakes winner Rachel Alexandra — produced the two highest prices of the sale's final session as the overall numbers suffered staunch, but not surprising, declines from last season.
Less than 24 hours after purchasing a son of Birdstone — the sire of this year's Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winners — for $400,000, agent John Ferguson set his sights on another classic-laden pedigree when he went to a sale-topping $425,000 for a bay daughter of Medaglia d'Oro on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.
The filly, consigned by Kitty Taylor's Warrendale Sales, is out of the Group II winning mare Ting a Folie and is a half sister to stakes-placed Bastakiya.
In addition to the filly's promising bloodlines, Taylor said her young prospect drew direct comparisons to the Oaks heroine herself.
"(Bloodstock agent) John Moynihan was the underbidder on her and basically told me she looked a lot like Rachel Alexandra," said Taylor, who also consigned the Medaglia d'Oro filly that sold for $370,000 Tuesday to Randy Gullatt of Twin Creeks Racing. "Proven sires with fillies are what people are looking at because of the residual value in them.
"They're going in that direction because it's a safer place to be in this market.
Sheikh Mohammed's Darley operation recently bought a majority interest in Medaglia d'Oro from Stonewall Stallions and relocated him to their Jonabell Farm.
"It's well known we have a strong opinion of Medaglia d'Oro like everyone else, and she was a quality filly," Ferguson said of his purchase. "We'll decide in September whether she races in Europe or the United States."
Coming off the 2-year-old sales season that featured declines of about 30 percent, many figured the yearling marketplace would be in for a similar setback.
Indeed, the overall gross of $20,828,000 was down 26 percent from last season — slightly better than expected — while the cumulative average of $77,716 was off by 15.8 percent.
The median fell from $75,000 in 2008 to $55,000 this year, but the rate of horses not sold actually improved, coming in at 37 percent this sale compared with 39 percent in 2008.
"You never want to be down, but I thought it was a pretty good effort," said Fasig-Tipton chairman Walt Robertson. "We sold good horses today, and good horses did bring a lot of money. Unfortunately there is not a market for every horse, but if it was a nice horse it brought plenty."
Although their collective spending might have been more reserved this sale, yearling-to-juvenile resellers were more active on Tuesday, due in part to the strength of the second part of the catalog.
"There was a very healthy market once you got to the $50,000 limit on up," said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. "The market there was very similar to 2008."
Although few expect the declines to end anytime soon given the still shaky state of the economy, the current correction could help in the ongoing quest to bring more buyers into the market now that prices have come down from their impossible highs of a few years ago.
"I think the market is just more realistic right now," said trainer Chip Woolley, who bought a Strong Hope colt for $15,000 Tuesday. "I know it's down but I think it had gotten a little bit out of whack. Seeing it like this gives people an opportunity to get in at a price that is reasonable for the horse. It might bring in some new people."