Selective Marketplace

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One certainty in the microcosm of the boutique auction world is its uncertainty.

The uncertainty is frequently disguised as optimism in the weeks and days leading up to a major sale. A fair share of both existed on the Fasig-Tipton grounds as the Saratoga sale of selected yearlings got underway Monday night.

Another certainty is that once the sale gets underway the uncertainty and optimism are replaced by the reality of the moment. The reality Monday night was that whispers of a possible lack of depth to the buyer base could impact the prices, particularly the always difficult middle to lower ends of the market, weren’t rooted in fact as the opening session posted comparable returns to a year ago. 

Fasig-Tipton reported sales on 73 of the 104 yearlings offered for a total of $21,215,000, down 2.4 percent from last year’s $21,745,000 for 70 yearlings sold during the opening session. The buyback rate rose sharply to 29.8 percent as 31 yearlings left the ring without achieving their reserves, up from a very low 17.6 percent last year. 

Unlike last year’s opening session, when two yearlings sold for $2 million and $1.25 million, none cracked the seven-figure mark. 

Not surprisingly the session’s average price slipped without the seven-figure yearlings, but not much, from $310,643 last year to $290,616, a drop of 6.4 percent. Median price for the session rose 6.3 percent, from $225,000 in 2015 to $240,000 this year. 

“Overall tonight we saw a similar marketplace to what we saw last year, similar to what we saw throughout the 2-year-old sales and in 2016 thus far,” Fasig-Tipton President and Chief Executive Officer Boyd Browning Jr. said. “Average is down slightly, median is up slightly and the RNA is up higher than it was last year. 

“That’s probably not unexpected; it was remarkably low the first night last year. It’s not out of line this year, but it’s always a little higher than we’d like. We see a market that has slightly increased selectivity. We see the buyers, it’s amazing to watch the sellers and some of the more expensive lots, and the big players, they stop or will bid $5,000 or $10,000 and they won’t bid again. There’s restraint, particularly, well, at all levels of the marketplace.”

To read the rest of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale opening-night coverage, download Tuesday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Keeeneland Sales.