The buying power that turned out for Monday’s Fasig-Tipton July horses of races age sale wasn’t quite strong enough to get the expected star of the evening to change hands. It is a tribute to the collective strength of the marketplace, however, that even a seven-figure buyback couldn’t stop the single-day exercise from being deemed a success.
Even with recent Grade III Pegasus Stakes winner Donegal Moon failing to meet his reserve after getting a final bid of $1.6 million, the fourth edition of the July horses of racing age auction proved a solid showcase of market enthusiasm, posting gains in gross and average over its 2015 results despite lingering selectivity among shoppers.
Judging a horses of racing age sale against itself is a challenge as the catalog’s strength from year-to-year depends heavily on what desirable prospects can be recruited each season and which owners want to try and strike while the proverbial iron is hot.
Jerry Crawford, founder of Donegal Racing, was trying to do just that when he and his partners entered Donegal Moon in the auction on the heels of the colt’s 1 ¼ length win in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park on June 19. The son of Malibu Moon had the physical presence and pedigree to go with his recent good form but after the bidding jumped from $300,000 to $1,000,000 in a matter of moments, the final price proved just short of the ambitious reserve, according to Crawford.
“It was very close,” said Crawford, who added that a private sale of Donegal Moon was still possible. “And we’re excited about staying in the horse as well. By the way, if we don’t sell him we’re going to take the 5-2 favorite to the West Virginia Derby and say ‘come and catch us.’ There are worse things than that.”
Consigned by Taylor Made Sales, Donegal Moon is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Perfect Cause, who is out of champion Possibly Perfect.
The turnout may not have been at a level strong enough to deliver seven-figure fireworks, but with many trainers — including hall of famer Steve Asmussen, Ron Moquett and Mark Casse — on the grounds, trade was brisk at the middle market level for some ready-made products.
The cumulative gross of $5,048,500 was up 26.3 percent over last year’s exercise with the average of $70,118 improving 14 percent from 2015. The median came in at $42,000, down from $48,000 a year ago, and the rate of horses not sold clocked in at 20.8 percent.
The specialized nature of the horses of racing age sale makes it so that any carry over into Tuesday’s yearling sale is viewed as negligible at best. Still, sale officials and consignors were buoyed by the strong activity that has been on the grounds in recent days and market momentum of any kind is a positive.
“I thought it was a pretty similar marketplace to what we’ve seen in recent years,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning Jr. “I thought it was a great crowd here tonight. It felt energized, it’s been busy since Saturday. There might have been some trepidation among the consignors kicking off the yearling sale of if anyone would show up. I was pretty confident people were going to show up. I thought there was no shortage of bidders and attendance tonight on virtually every horse.”
Carrying the brunt of the early action were horses from the dispersal of stock from Betty Alexander’s Eutrophia Farm consigned by Taylor Made Sales as those 22 lots alone sold for $1,673,000, well above the $1.2 million it was appraised.
The evening’s sale topper ended up being Grade I winner Stormy Lucy selling to SF Bloodstock for $575,000, though her time in the ring initially ended without commerical success. Stormy Lucy, winner of the 2015 Grade I Matriarch Stakes, failed to meet her reserve after getting a final bid of $650,000 before representatives of SF Bloodstock stepped in to purchase the broodmare prospect privately.
“We were a little disappointed when she didn’t sell the first time around,” said Leif Aaron, stakes filly recruiter for Taylor Made, which consigned Stormy Lucy. “We were just saying, ‘We’re just going to take her and sell her in November,’ but a lot of people showed interest after they saw it was a buyback. We got a lot of offers afterward and SF just made us the best offer.”
The Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale, the first major yearling auction of the season, begins at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.