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High Expectations on Eve of Gulfstream Sale

188 Head Cataloged After $23.495 Million in Sales in 2018.

Sunscreen, broad-brimmed hats, and bottled water were in high demand in the Fasig-Tipton sale barn area at Gulfstream Park March 26, and buyers were bathed in sunshine as they went about the task of inspecting juveniles on offer during The Gulfstream Sale.

Fasig-Tipton’s annual selected sale of 2-year-olds in training begins at 2 p.m. March 27 in the paddock at Gulfstream, the iconic track in Hallandale Beach, Fla., just north of Miami.

With 188 juveniles cataloged, this year’s entries are 13.2% higher than the 166 cataloged in last year’s regular and supplemental books. As of noon on Tuesday, there had been 59 withdrawals.

This is the second year the auction will be positioned on the calendar during the week leading up to the Florida Derby (G1), which is scheduled for March 30. The sale is coming off a dynamic 2018 edition in which 61 head grossed $23.495 million, at an average price of $385,164 and a $295,000 median. The average was the fourth-highest in sale history and the median was the second-highest, exceeded only by the $300,000 figure in 2013.

The 2018 auction was topped by a Medaglia d’Oro  filly and an Into Mischief  colt that sold for $1.2 million each. The Into Mischief colt, later named Instagrand, won the Best Pal Stakes (G2) for Larry Best’s OXO Equine and is one of 10 recent Gulfstream sale graduates to grace the front cover of this year’s catalog. 

Other cover stars include Audible —who returned to Gulfstream a year after being sold for $500,000 in 2017 to win last year’s Florida Derby before going on to finish third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1)—as well as additional grade 1 winners BellafinaDream Tree, and Fourstar Crook, and grade 2 winner Maximus Mischief . The catalog’s back cover lists major races won by sale grads since Fasig-Tipton’s first auction at Gulfstream in 2015. 

Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning Jr. said there are high expectations for the sale this year.

“We are extremely bullish and optimistic about our sale,” said Browning. “I’m like a kid in the candy store with regards to the catalog we’ve got. It’s a really strong catalog, both in terms of pedigrees and physical conformation.”

Buyer Pete Bradley predicted strength will continue at the top of the market, with sellers willing to take home any youngsters that don’t meet their appraised values. 

“It’s a very solid group and I don’t think I have enough money for the ones I want,” Bradley said. “If (sellers) are going to take a loss, they wait and take them to Maryland (Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training).” 

Bradley believes it’s still early to assess the overall crop of 2-year-olds, and that the Ocala Breeders’ Sales April Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training will provide the litmus test. 

“By the time the April sale rolls around, we’ll have a better Idea,” he said. 

Browning said the company feels a key to the success of Gulfstream auction graduates is the opportunity to prep and breeze for buyers on Gulfstream’s dirt track, affording buyers an opportunity to evaluate and envision their future racing potential.

“The racetrack success of Gulfstream sales graduates has been highly impressive,” Browning said. “The facilities are fantastic and the horses get a great opportunity to train over a racetrack where a lot of people hope they will be running 12 months from now in races like those coming up this weekend. I believe that is an important consideration for buyers and sellers alike, that they have the opportunity to train and work on a racetrack like this.

“It seems to us there is more of a direct correlation between performance at an under tack (pre-sale workout) show over the surface you’re going to be racing on,” said Browning, adding that all grade 1 non-grass stakes in the U.S. are run on dirt, not synthetic surfaces.

Browning said the sale’s setting at Gulfstream during the week leading up to the Florida Derby adds extra allure to participants.

“It’s hard to beat this set-up from a weather standpoint,” he said. “You’ve got an unbelievable race card here this weekend with the Florida Derby. It’s a really upbeat time of the year.”

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