Jane and Frank Lyon have produced some of the most valuable horseflesh to go through the Thoroughbred auction area this season. On Tuesday, it was their turn to take a precious commodity home.
After selling the sales toppers at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select and Keeneland September yearling auctions, the Lyons were the headliners again after buying stakes winner Holiday Runner for $2.15 million on a night that saw the Fasig-Tipton November mixed sale suffer drastic downturns from a year ago.
The success the Lyons' Summer Wind Farm has enjoyed this season was tempered when their mare Onaga — dam of Grade I winner Aragorn and his half-brother On a Storm, who sold for $2.8 million at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga — died in Ireland in late August at age 15.
In outlasting representatives of Live Oak Stud to claim Holiday Runner, the Lyons think they have an ideal replacement for Onaga. Holiday Runner, the 9-year-old daughter of Meadowlake, already has produced a multiple Grade I winner in Seventh Street, most recently eighth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
"We lost a very precious mare, and we were looking to replace her with something that was capable of producing the kind of horses we hope to breed," Jane Lyon said. "You don't find a mare like this that has everything in one package, that is relatively young and that is for sale. So we think she's special."
Consigned by Baccari Bloodstock, Holiday Runner bested males when she won the Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes as a 2-year-old. She is in foal to top sire Tiznow.
"She had everything really, she had it all," Jane Lyon said. "I don't know who (she'll be bred to in 2010), but I think there are a number of phenomenal choices out there for that mare."
While Holiday Runner was one of six horses that hit the seven-figure mark, this year's Fasig-Tipton November sale had the near-impossible task of trying to live up to last year's remarkable exercise, when broodmare of the year Better Than Honour brought a world-record price of $14 million and champion Stardom Bound sold for $5.7 million to spur on a record overall gross of $70,279,000.
But Fasig-Tipton one-night boutique sale saw its gross plummet 59.4 percent, to $28,505,000 while the average ($365,449) and median ($170,000) dropped 53 percent and 32 percent, respectively.
"There were two horses that combined to bring nearly $20 million last year, and anybody that is an interested observer in the Thoroughbred business who picked up the catalog this year knew there were not two horses that were going to bring $20 million," said Boyd Browning, president of Fasig-Tipton.
Private Feeling, dam of Grade I winner Looking at Lucky and Grade II winner Kensei, brought the evening's second-highest price selling for $2 million to Live Oak Stud. She is in foal to Mr. Greeley.
Foreign buyers looking to take advantage of the weak U.S. dollar played a key role at the top end of the market.
Japan-based Shadai Farm bought multiple Grade I winner Magical Fantasy for $1.8 million, and Australian breeder Evergreen Farm took home Grade I winner Black Mamba for $1.5 million
Champion Ginger Punch failed to meet her reserve after a final bid of $1.3 million but was later sold privately to Katsumi Yoshida for $1.6 million.