Being the first major yearling sale of the Thoroughbred auction season often brings a unique set of challenges to the Fasig-Tipton July auction, particularly due to the timing.
Participants in the event — the single-session sale is set to start at 10 a.m. Monday at Fasig-Tipton's Newtown Pike paddocks — expect the auction to provide the boost needed to keep momentum on the positive end of the spectrum.
For the second straight season, the Fasig-Tipton July select yearling sale will be followed immediately by a horses of racing age sale.
Part of the reason Fasig-Tipton added the companion auction was to try to lure trainers and end users who otherwise might not be willing to attend because the boutique meets at Del Mar and Saratoga are poised to get underway.
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Providing potential buyers with more options brought positive returns a year ago, when the yearling sale posted double-digit gains in average and median, and Grade I winner Starship Truffles was sold to Castleton Lyons for $1 million.
In addition to offering one-stop shopping, the Fasig-Tipton sale will feature a 13-horse dispersal of broodmares and weanlings from the elite program of Eugene Melnyk.
"I think it's a major advantage because what you find is you draw in trainers and end users that maybe typically wouldn't come to this sale," said consignor Stuart Morris. "That's the one thing Fasig fights here is the timing of the sale; two weeks before Saratoga and Del Mar, a lot of the big guys are focused on getting those stables dialed in.
"You have to find the capacity where it is worth it for a trainer to come in from out of state, and it has to be a big enough number in the catalog to justify being gone. I think it will be a good year for everybody and positive for the industry going forward."
Good feelings remain after a juvenile sales season that generally was positive despite spotty returns and high buy-back rates at boutique auctions.
While yearling-to-juvenile resellers should be active again as they restock inventory, the ongoing reduction in the size of the foal crop is expected to prompt end users to spend more money.
While larger foal crops allowed buyers to be pickier about the horses they purchased, a smaller pool has added to the urgency to stock up.
"Before we had a glut and we had more supply and demand, and now ... I see more of these end users trying to get product earlier in the pipeline," said Mark Taylor of leading consignor Taylor Made Sales. "They used to wait ... . So I think that's what is really what is driving it.
"When there are tons of foals out there, you create different types of pinhooking. And it's not bad, but if everyone is always trying to resell it to somebody else, the market is not 100 percent true."
Supply and demand should be in harmony as 265 yearlings have been cataloged for the yearling sale while the horses of racing age sale had more than 130 entries, with more being accepted over the weekend.
"It is interesting because with the way the foal crop has shrunk, it's gotten a little competitive as the market has picked back up," said Spendthrift Farm general manager Ned Toffey. "There are a lot of savvy people out there that are looking for a good buy anyplace they can get it. I don't think there are too many soft spots out there anymore."