Big Finish – Fasig Tipton Sales Night 2

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By Sean Clancy

The first night of the Fasig-Tipton Select Sale lacked electricity.

Todd Pletcher put the jumper cables on the second night when he purchased the first horse through the ring, Hip 101, for $1.2 million. The sales-topper was in the books.

Bidding from the back ring, Pletcher leaned against the wall, cupping his hand over his cell phone and relaying the bidding sequence to owner Ben Leon. He never hesitated, so Pletcher never hesitated.

“He was pretty confident the whole way,” Pletcher said on his way to get a glass of champagne with his family. “I did not sense any weakness.”

Fasig-Tipton sensed less weakness during the second session, selling 59 horses for $17.665 million, at an average of $299,407 and a median of $250,000. Twenty-five horses did not sell.

“I described the first night as workmanlike. Tonight was workmanlike but with a little less sweat,” Fasig-Tipton’s Boyd Browning said. “Bidding was more consistent. It felt better tonight, it wasn’t fireworks after fireworks but it was solid, it was better.”

Pletcher lit the fuse.

The four-time Eclipse Award winning trainer went to the sale with specific instructions from Leon, a new owner who purchased stakes filly With Flying Colors last year and has horses with Pletcher and his father, J.J.

“My dad has been talking to him, we have a couple of 2-year-olds for him on the farm and he expressed some interest,” Pletcher said. “He said, ‘Let me know who you think is the best horse in the sale.’ We felt like this was the one. I called him and told him this one checks all the boxes; pedigree, champion mare, conformation, everything we want.”

Fasig-Tipton’s Terence Collier described the colt in two words.

“Breed shaping.”

Consigned by Bluewater Sales, the colt is the first foal out of champion sprinter Maryfield.

By Horse of the Year and leading sire A.P. Indy, he was bred by Mike Moreno’s Southern Equine who bought Maryfield for $1.25 million at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall sale in 2007 after she had won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

The bay colt attracted Pletcher immediately.

“I liked him from the first time I saw him – everything to like, pedigree, conformation, class, everything, just one you had to like,” Pletcher said. “I didn’t get too nervous, my concern was I didn’t know where we were going to land. I projected him as a million-dollar horse, but it’s just how north of a million are you comfortable with.”

Bluewater’s Meg Levy stood about 20 feet from Pletcher as the bidding progressed, she knew there was a chance he could be the sales-topper.

“You never quite know who he’s going to go home with. All the right people were on him,” Levy said. “When I first saw the horse he was on Walmac Farm, they did a great job raising him, and I thought he was just magnificent. His nickname on the farm was Superman. I don’t think there’s anything else you can say. The possibility is always there (to top a sale) and you just hope that all the variables are going to sort themselves out.”

The colt was the only seven-figure horse of the two-night sale.

The second highest sale came late in the second session when Robert and Lawana Low purchased Hip 194, a daughter of Distorted Humor for $875,000. Tom McCrocklin did the bidding on the half-sister to champion Point Given,

“She’s a beautiful horse, by the right sire, half-sister to a classic winner, a great horse,” said McCrocklin who breaks the Low’s horses in Ocala. “They’re trying to buy high-profile horses and she fit all the profiles we’re looking for. She was the first horse we looked at and we kept coming back to her.”

Consigned by Woodford Thoroughbreds, the filly’s page only goes to her second dam, that’s how much pedigree she brings to the Lows’ program. They’ve owned stellar females in the past including Test winner Capote Belle and Kentucky Oaks runner-up Real Cozzy.

“When you come here and try to buy a filly like her, you have to expect to pay that kind of money. We actually stretched a little, we were topped out at 750, but if you’re willing to pay 750, why not a little more,” McCrocklin said. “Robert had given me a number and turned me loose and then I said, ‘You know I better get him on the phone,’ because I knew we were in that ballpark. The last bid there was a long hesitation and then he said go ahead, we were looking for the wire.”

Leading buyer John Ferguson struck for the first time Tuesday night when securing Hip 119, a colt by Street Cry, who went for $650,000. Ferguson purchased two colts for $750,000. He recruited Hip 142, a half-brother to Haskell winner Lookin At Lucky and Jim Dandy winner Kensei, for $750,000. Gainesway consigned the son of Afleet Alex. Ferguson returned to draft Hip 178, a bay colt by Smart Strike, consigned by Denali Stud for Falls Creek Farm.

For the two nights, a total of 117 yearlings were sold for over $32 million. The overall average was $277,051 and the median was at $250,000. Gross revenue declined 38.3 percent and the average price fell 15.6 percent.

“We knew it was going to be tough. Truthfully, an increase wasn’t expected. We made some mistakes, but in the overall big picture I don’t think we made any dramatic mistakes,” Browning said. “I don’t think there are any significant changes that are necessary to build upon this sale and to continue in our efforts to make it the premier yearling sale in the world. It will be interesting to see how we stack up as we continue through the yearling market during the remainder of the year. In golf terms, I think we’ve posted a pretty low number in the clubhouse.”

– additional reporting by Katie Bo Williams.