“We thought we had a very solid sale,” said Tim Boyce, Fasig-Tipton Texas Sale Director. “We weren’t high fiving anybody after that sale, but in this economy, flat is the new up.”
Fasig-Tipton, the Kentucky-based auction company formed in 1898, has been conducting the Yearling Sale in Texas since Lone Star Park first opened for racing in 1997. Looking at the sale’s history going back to 2002 as published on the Fasig-Tipton website, the previous nine Texas Yearling Sales averaged $11,582 per yearling sold. Tuesday, 225 yearlings sold for $10,628. Last year, 214 yearlings sold for an average of $11,119.
During the last ten Texas Yearling Sales, the highest average was $13,623 for the 241 yearlings sold at the 2007 sale. The lowest average occurred in 2005 when 323 sold for an average of $10,325.
This year, there were several yearlings sold with no reserve as part of the Heiligbrodt Racing Dispersal. An additional 42 thoroughbred sold after the yearling sale as part of the third phase of the Heiligbrodt Racing Dispesal. Those two factors had an adverse effect on the average price of this year’s sale as several of those yearlings left the sale ring Tuesday after the gavel fell at $1,000 or lower.
Yearlings bred in Louisiana dominated the supply with nearly 60% of those catalogued coming from the Pelican state. Oklahoma-breds (14%), Texas-breds (12%) and Kentucky-breds (9%) made up most of the remaining yearlings sold.
It was the Louisiana-breds that also dominated the demand. Of those sold, Louisiana-breds averaged $11,375, Oklahoma-breds $10,113 and Texas-breds brought an average of just $6,580. Purses or prize money in Louisiana and Oklahoma are supplemented by other forms of gaming such slot machines at race tracks in the state. Earlier this year, Texas state legislature again failed to address the issue costing the horse racing and breeding industry in the state millions of dollars.
“If slot legislation was passed in Texas,” Boyce said, “there is no doubt prices at this sale would reflect what is happening in New York where slots legislation has passed.” A recently concluded Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale recently averaged $55,000 for yearlings bred in New York.
The leading buyer at the sale was Texan Ed Wright (photo left with Bernie Flint) from Amarillo who purchased three yearlings for $137,000. While sitting next to trainer Bernie Flint, Wright was the high bidder on a Lemon Drop Kid colt for $63,000, a Grand Slam colt for $45,000 and a colt by Limehouse for $29,000. Despite calling Texas home, Wright said he plans to run his new purchases with Flint in Louisiana and Kentucky.
Flint has saddled more than 3,000 winners and has titles at nine tracks including Keeneland, Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds. Flint also signed the tickets for on a Not For Love colt for $55,000 and $5,600 for colt by Lunarpal.
A Louisiana-bred filly by the Kentucky stallion City Zip topped the sale after dropping the gavel at $78,000. Consigned by Paul Mills Bloodstock for Judice Farms, the chestnut filly out of the stakes winning Malagra mare, Streak of Malagra, went to Bill W. Cunningham who predominantly races near his home in Vinton, Louisiana with trainer Glenn Delahoussaye. It was Delahoussaye who signed the sale ticket on top selling Daecallherdastreak.
Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye (photo left) was also at the Texas Yearling sale, working in his post-riding career as a bloodstock agent. A winner of two Kentucky Derbies, a Preakness and the Belmont Stakes twice, Delahoussaye remains based in California as an independent bloodstock agent and was representing Eclipse Thoroughbred Partnerships at the sale. “Eclipse runs their horses mostly in California, but there are a few of the partners from Louisiana too,” Delahoussaye said. “So I came to look at some Louisiana-breds for them.”
Delahoussaye said it was his first trip to Lone Star Park since retiring from racing in 2003. “I only rode at Lone Star Park a few times in those jockey championships,” he said, “ but I’ve enjoyed coming back. I have a lot of friends here today from Louisiana too.”
Pinhookers were also well represented at the sale with the likes of Bryan Rice, David McKathan and Harold Hatcher all signing tickets. Those yearlings were purchased for potential profits realized by re-selling them in 2-year-old in training sales next spring.
There were no magical moments with million dollar babies at the Fasig-Tipton Texas Yearling Sale. In fact the top seller fell $22,000 short of six figures. But the sale produced solid numbers in a Texas horse racing environment that is in neglect at best and near extinction at worse. Although the sale bears the Texas name and is located in the Lone Star state, it is neighbors in Louisiana, Oklahoma and other states more in tune to horse racing, breeding and sales, that are now reeping the benefits.