There was no shortage of story lines in the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion Sunday evening, from the bittersweet parting a couple of years in the making to the family who, once again, wasn't that upset to leave some money on the table and take one of its favorite girls back home.
The fireworks were worthy and justifiable. But the overriding buzzword of the night was selectivity, as that aspect of the Thoroughbred market was felt strongest among all participants.
Two years after entering Angela Renee at the Keene land September yearling sale only to change their minds and bring her home, Siena Farm watched the Grade I-winning filly pace a spotty night of action at the Fasig-Tipton November sale. She was sold for $3 million to representatives of Don Alberto Corp.
Judging the health of the breeding stock market off of a single boutique session doesn't lend itself to the truest of reads. What was irrefutable were the bouts of feast or famine in terms of results, a trend that also popped up during the yearling sales.
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Although Sunday's median of $235,000 was an improvement over last year's $200,000, the overall gross of $43,666,000 from 92 head declined 31 percent from the $63,678,000 generated by 108 head in 2014. The average of $474,630 fell 19.5 percent from 2014, with the rate of horses not sold coming in at 34 percent, up from 29 percent a year ago.
Where 23 horses hit the seven-figure mark in 2014, including a dozen that went for $2 million or more, 14 cracked the $1 million barrier Sunday, with five selling for at least $2 million.
"We had remarkable depth last year, and this year, we had a very good catalog but certainly didn't have the depth that we had last year, and we kind of knew that going in," said Boyd Browning Jr., president of Fasig-Tipton. "Buyers bid with enthusiasm but still with restraint. You don't have kind of the magical breakout situations that we did several years ago.
"There are always a few disappointments. In a mixed sale there is always some emotional attachment with the owners to these fillies and mares, and there becomes a reluctance to part with them. But overall I think it's a ration al marketplace."
Bred by Siena Farm, Angela Renee fell into the category of those whom buyers would stretch the limits to secure.
The 3-year-old daughter of Bernardini is a full sister to Grade I winner To Honor and Serve, and scored at the top level herself when she won the 2014 Grade I Chandelier Stakes.
Fernando Diaz-Valdes, agent for Don Alberto, gushed that Angela Renee "has everything. She's beautiful and she has the best pedigree you could imagine."
Letting her go now was a financial decision for the Siena Farm team, though not one arrived at easily from an emotional standpoint.
"We shipped her out to (Keeneland) as a yearling, and literally she was on the sales ground for 15 minutes," David Pope, president of Siena Farm, said of Angela Renee. "We enjoyed a wonderful career with her; she's been a blessing to the farm. And now with such a successful sale, she will continue to be a blessing to the farm for a long time."
The horses that didn't sell Sunday night were almost as notable as those that did. For the second straight year, Ken and Sarah Ramsey entered their homebred mare Stephanie's Kitten in the Fasig-Tipton catalog only to bring her home when she failed to meet her reserve.
Already a multiple Grade I winner, Stephanie's Kitten scored a sublime win in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland on Saturday. Her reserve price last year was $3.95 million; Ken Ramsey lowered it this time but still didn't get what he needed to part with her. The final bid Sunday was $2.95 million.
"I had reserve of $2.99 million, and for that, we'll keep her and breed her to Tapit or Galileo or some big European stallion. and race the offspring," Ken Ramsey said. Family members "were all clapping hands when she didn't sell, kind of a sigh of relief went up. I think she's worth at least $3 million, so if she didn't bring it ... I kind of feel like a hero instead of a heel."