Yearling Sale: New Derby Mother Lode
By Deirdre B. Biles - May 5, 2009
The Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale in October in Lexington
isn’t glamorous. It comes at the end of the yearling selling season,
so it generally doesn't attract the best of the available stock.
Horses wind up there because they get sick or suffer injuries, and
others are entered because their breeders don’t want to sell them
during the final days of the marathon Keeneland September yearling
Many of the yearlings have blue-collar pedigrees. The average price at
last year’s sale was a modest $13,512.
But even though the auction isn’t one of the sale calendar’s premier
events, it does have the distinction of counting the two most recent
Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brand (gr. I) winners among its
Big Brown , the 2008 Run for the Roses winner, was consigned to the
2006 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall sale by his breeder, Monticule, and
was purchased by Florida pinhooker Eddie Woods for $60,000. The
following year, Woods offered Big Brown in the Keeneland April sale of
2-year-olds in training, and Hidden Brook, as agent for Paul Pompa
Jr., bought the colt for $190,000.
This year’s shocking Derby winner, Mine That Bird, was sold by
Highclere Sales as agent to Dominion Bloodstock Agency for $9,500 at
the 2007 Fasig-Tipton fall auction. The gelding later was sold
privately to his present owners for $400,000.
The Fasig-Tipton fall sale’s recent emergence as the mother lode of
Derby runners is a result of “the flying fickle finger of fate,” joked
Fasig-Tipton director of marketing Terence Collier.
But on a more serious note, he said, Mine That Bird’s rise to
prominence highlights the fact that “the October yearling sale has
been one that has consistently benefited from visitors from north of
the border. We have recruited hard at Woodbine every year to get
people down here because the timing has been right and the prices have
been right. They have come down here and have regularly supported this
sale. We are delighted even though Canadians no longer own Mine That
Bird that the hard work that this one particular buyer did to find
that horse in 2007 was very well rewarded. He (trainer Dave Cotey of
Dominion Bloodstock) came back with the proceeds of the sale of the
horse and spent a lot of money in October of last year to buy more
horses here. It’s a real feel good deal for us.”
Fasig-Tipton director of client services Max Hodge “is our point guy
in Canada with specific reference to the October sale,” Collier said.
“When that catalog comes out, Max takes boxes of them and goes up and
hustles the backside at Woodbine. It has been not mildly successful;
it’s been spectacularly successful. We’ve had a regular contingent of
Canadian buyers coming down here who target the October sale.”
The Canadian interest in shopping in the fall at Fasig-Tipton “goes
back probably 15 years, even before there was an October yearling
sale,” Collier said. “When we had an earlier fall yearling sale, they
were a buying group that really wasn’’t being taken care of. They
obviously had lots of options in September, but they weren’t the focus
of anybody’s attention. And there was a group of people up there
looking for non-Canadian pedigrees which they couldn’t find in their
own yearling sale. It was just a fortunate conjunction of events. We
promoted it hard in Canada, and we’ve always had a following for our
fall yearling sale amongst Canadian trainers.”
Fasig-Tipton officials announced earlier this year that the October
sale wouldn’t be conducted, but it was reinstated after buyers and
consignors asked Fasig-Tipton management to reverse its decision.
“When we announced the sale was a candidate for cancellation, the
howls from north of the border, and from Panama, and from South
America were the loudest,” Collier said. “The reaction from the
buyers, which was somewhat reflected by the sellers, was probably what
raised our heads enough to reevaluate that situation.”
This year’s Kentucky fall yearling sell is scheduled for Oct. 26-28.