Thursday, March 3, 2016

Observations from The Florida Sale

With the first 2-year-old sale in the books, fireworks lit up the Gulfstream Park paddock on Wednesday night with four horses selling for $1-million or more. Here are some quick observations made about this year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale and the stallions represented in it.
Tapit continued his reign as the king of North America: While Tapit only had three horses go through the ring and two RNAed (for $145,000 and $520,000, respectively), one was all he needed to take over the leader board. Buyers weren’t willing to go over $1-million for any horse until the colt out of a half-sister to Hard Spun (Danzig) walked into the ring and hammered $1.8-million to Woodford Racing, Lane’s End and Robert LaPenta, $800,000 more than the three second most expensive horses. He was a $1.2-million RNA last year as a yearling so even though it may have seemed a little crazy to let go of that money then, his owners obviously knew they had something special on their hands.

It’s good to be a young stallion: Of the top seven most expensive horses, all but the Tapit colt were by sires who have five or fewer crops. Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker), Curlin (Smart Strike) and Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) were obvious hard hitters going into this sale but even hot first-crop sires Union Rags (Dixie Union) and Bodemeister (Empire Maker) and second-crop sire Tapizar (Tapit) hit it big. The list of stallions who had 2-year-olds sell for $500,000 or more also included a group of familiar names with Candy Ride (Ride the Rails), Hard Spun (Danzig), Mineshaft (A.P. Indy) and the late Scat Daddy (Johannesburg) all included.

Empire Maker
Great timing for Empire Maker: While Empire Maker (Unbridled) won’t have any U.S.-bred 2-year-olds in these sale for three more years, his sons are making sure that his name sticks in peoples’ minds. Both Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister had a good night with Bodemeister represented twice in the top 15 prices. In addition, one of Empire Maker’s daughters had a filly hammer at $485,000 but she was an RNA. With those results plus American Pharoah’s success last year Gainesway and Don Alberto have hit a home run bringing Empire Maker back to the U.S., even if the stallion himself will be quiet in the sales ring for a while.

Let’s talk about Broken Vow: Broken Vow (Unbridled) is one of those stallions that keeps ticking under the radar. He stands for $25,000, has four champions and 21 graded stakes winners but always seems like the forgotten stallion in Kentucky. He’s not a flashy stallion like those at the top of the rankings but his average earnings per starter is nearly three times his stud fee and almost 15 percent of his starters are stakes horses. Tonight was a good night for the 19-year-old stallion however as both his offerings went for $450,000 apiece, which would have been his second most expensive offerings behind a $950,000 colt if they would have sold in 2015 and his most expensive in both 2013 and 2014.

Hansen winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile
Hansen: Unless he’s brought back to the U.S. before his stud career is over (hopefully in 20 years or so), buyers only have one crop of U.S.-bred Hansen (Tapit) foals to get their hands on. Tonight they had one chance and it went pretty well for the stallion with his colt out of the daughter of champion Katies (Nonoalco), who is also a half-sister to champion Japanese runner Hishi Amazon (Theatrical) going for $225,000. Dr. Kendall Hansen’s big goal is to bring his champion 2-year-old back from South Korea and if the Hansens race like this one breezed, he has a decent shot.

Harlan's Holiday in 2013
Last crop sires: Both Harlan’s Holiday (Harlan) and Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled) were represented by their final 2-year-olds at this sale with three and four horses going through the ring, respectively. Harlan’s Holiday’s big hitter was a filly out of a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Albert the Great (Go for Gin), who sold to John McCormack for $300,000. Of his other two offerings, a colt sold for $145,000 while a filly RNAed for the same price. Four others by the sire were cataloged but were all outs. Unbridled’s Song fared about the same with his most expensive being a $300,000 colt out of Rhys (Storm Cat) with a $195,000 RNA and a $125,000 private sale.

Overall impressions: This year, fewer horses went through the ring but instead of the 47 strong consignment Adena Springs sent through last year, they only send four which probably played a pretty sizable part in how many went through the ring tonight. While raw numbers don’t tell the whole story, nearly all of them were up at tonight’s sale compared to last year with 66 horses selling for $21,690,000, an average of $327,121 compared to last year’s average of $225,792 from 89 sold.  The median saw a jump to $250,000 from $130,000 last year but again that is helped by the smaller catalog. 

While this was a smaller sale, which helps brings higher prices it seemed like it was steady with just a handful of horses bringing less than $100,000 and all price ranges above that pretty well represented. The results of last year’s sale (horses like Nyquist and Mor Spirit came from here) and the overall quality of the catalog probably helped loosen wallets with only one horse going for over $1-million (a $1.4-million Scat Daddy colt) last year with four hitting the mark this year. It should be noted that the $1-million Florida Derby bonus that Fasig-Tipton offered last year is still in play this year, giving those looking for classic running colts an extra incentive to buy from this sale.

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