Lexington, KY - Fasig-Tipton held its one-day Kentucky Winter Mixed sale on Monday, which concluded with strong numbers. In total, the gross sales were $13,781,700 (up almost 200 percent from 2012), the average price was $56,252 (up 230 percent), and the median was $15,000 (up 150 percent).
Four of the sale’s top five prices came from the much-touted group of 28 mares from Eugene Melnyk’s Winding Oaks Farm.
The top seller was Hip 327, Pool Land, who brought $900,000 from buyer Live Oak Stud.
“There are not many Silver Deputys out there to pick from, and they’re expensive … she fits [Live Oak’s] program really well,” said agent Jim Wells, who signed the ticket for Live Oak Stud.
The 11 year-old daughter of Silver Deputy and Slew City Slew mare Slew City Slicker made a splash in her career on the track, with wins in the G1 Ruffian Handicap and G3 Allaire du Pont Breeders’ Cup Distaff Stakes before her retirement in 2007. After finishing her race career with $529,776 in earnings, Pool Land delivered three foals and sold in foal to sire of sires Smart Strike.
“She’s a keeper,” he said of Live Oak owner Charlotte Weber. “She doesn’t trade. She bought (the mare) to keep and raise racehorses … She stays at the top and plays at the top.”
Wells said stud plans have not been made yet for Pool Land, but the mare will be shipping to her new home at Live Oak in Ocala, Florida.
Race mare Roxy Gap (ON), selling as Hip 314, brought the second-highest price at $850,000. Fred Hertrich of Watercress Farm signed the ticket on behalf of a partnership that includes himself.
“We’d handicapped her; we thought she might bring a little more money,” said Hertrich, who bought one other horse from the Melnyk consignment. “She’s a beautiful race filly, and Mr. Melnyk told me probably the top filly in Canada, and hopefully (she) wins a Sovereign Award.”
Hertrich said that Roxy Gap will remain in training, but was unsure if she would remain in the States or ship to Canada, where she has run the bulk of her career.
Roxy Gap’s laurels include the G2 Nassau Stakes, G3 Royal North Stakes, and the G3 Whimsical Stakes. She is a 5 year-old daughter of Indian Charlie and Saint Ballado mare Harts Gap.
Buyers and Fasig Tipton officials alike commented that the Melnyk consignment was impressive not only because of the mares’ racing and produce records on paper, but also due to their polish and strong physical conformation in person.
“Mr. Melnyk has been kind of an institution in our industry. It was a tribute to him and what he has done to see some of these mares sell,” said Hertrich. “When you went back to Taylor Made and looked at them, they were not only great race mares but they looked like fantastic mares. They were the whole package, so I think there are a lot of happy people who bought horses today.”
“I think it was a testament to the Melnyk program when people went back and looked at those horses; almost across the board they all had good conformation, they were all in great physical condition.” agreed Fasig-Tipton president and CEO Boyd Browning, Jr. “That shows you the quality of the program, that a decision to sell was made three weeks ago, and they walk in here and they look, literally in many instances, like almost a million dollars.”
Even without the supplemental catalog containing the Melnyk entries included in the final figures, average and median were up significantly from last year.
“It sounds like a broken record, but there was significant competition on the better lots from a wide cross-section of buyers,” said Browning. “I don’t know that the Melnyk group really helped sell the horses prior to them.”
He speculated that the overall Thoroughbred market is continuing to settle following years of depressed public sales, and that this year’s boost in numbers may reflect a responsiveness of sellers to their market.
“I think buyers are getting more sophisticated, and sellers are getting more sophisticated, so some of the bottom-end horses that frankly may have been in the catalog last year didn’t show up this year … the capitalistic system is fairly efficient.”
“I don’t think it’s safe to say the overall market is up … it’s certainly stronger for quality, but it’s still hard as hell to sell a mare with holes in her [catalog page], or a baby that’s not good,” said Browning.
Browning and other Fasig-Tipton organizers had to do some fancy footwork as the sale went on to accommodate race mare Golden Mystery, who traveled by van from Miami following a win in the G3 Hurricane Bertie Stakes at Gulfstream late Sunday afternoon. Cataloged as Hip 175, her sale had to be rescheduled to the end of the evening, as she didn’t arrive until mid-afternoon on Monday. Golden Mystery was purchased by Regis Farms for $625,000.
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” said Browning, who said that officials kept in touch with the mare’s drivers and got the word out to buyers Monday afternoon. “None of us thought … that she’d win a grade three on Sunday and ship Monday night.”
The next public Thoroughbred auction in Kentucky will be Keeneland’s April 2 Year-Olds in Training Sale on Monday, April 8.