With one final sale session set for tonight, the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale has already surpassed a gross of $30 million for the first time since 2008 and is on pace to smash last year’s all-time record for average.
by Dave Briggs
Bill Donovan said he has a couple of surprises coming for trainers. The owner from Pompano Beach, FL is sending some nice yearlings their way after leading all buyers during the fourth session of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale held Friday night (Oct. 7) at the Fasig-Tipton sales facility.
The session sale-topper, a Roll With Joe colt out of Tropic’s Beachgirl from the Spring Haven Farm consignment named Rose Run TJ — that cost Donovan $97,000 — will be going to Chris Ryder.
“I was looking for a New York pacing colt for my portfolio and he was a pretty nice colt and I was fortunate enough to get him. And then I found out that it was Chris Ryder who was driving the price up on me,” Donovan said. “I said that if he liked him that much then he should train him. So Chris is going to train him. I’ve had horses with Chris in the past and have done well. He’s a gentleman and a professional and his record speaks for himself.”
Donovan said an Ontario Sired Shadow Play filly he purchased for $100,000 on the second night of the sale, will go to Ciaran Morrison, a top trainer from Ireland who recently relocated to Ontario.
“I haven’t had horses with him before, but an Irish friend of mine is a trainer/driver and he comes to Lexington and has been my second set of eyes,” Donovan said. “I pretty much select the yearlings myself, but I’ll ask the trainer for his opinion. I look at a couple of hundred, so it’s nice to have a second pair of eyes and somebody else looking. I met Ciaran through him and I know Ron Burke and Jimmy Takter have a high opinion of Ciaran so that in itself speaks yards of his abilities.”
Donovan said he thought he would be able to buy Rose Run TJ for at least $20,000 less than he paid.
“I wasn’t looking for a sale topper, or anything else with that colt,” Donovan said, “but there was a lot of interest in him. When you have an individual with the page and the looks, they are going to sell, it really doesn’t matter if it’s the first night or the fourth night. They may not go for the money of the first night, but the demand was there.”
In fact, the demand for yearlings has been particularly strong through all four nights.
With one session remaining tonight, the sale has already topped $30 million in gross for the first time since 2008’s gross of $32,111,742. The sale is on pace to smash last year’s record average of $45,204. Through Friday, 491 horses had brought $30,553,000 total, so far, to produce an average of $62,226 that is 24.3 per cent higher than the 2015 average of $50,042 through the first four sessions. The gross is up this year by 10.8 per cent despite 60 fewer horses being sold, so far.
During Friday’s fourth session, 113 yearlings grossed $2,884,000 combined for an average of $25,522 that was up 19.6 per cent compared to the fourth session in 2015.
“The best number that I saw tonight was that our gross was over $30 million,” said Randy Manges, who shares the sale manager role with David Reid. “And we’ve still got another 80 horses to sell and whatever they bring.”
Manges said the crowd was particularly strong Friday.
“The crowd was excellent tonight, a really a good crowd,” he said. “Of course, we were done early, but they stayed. The last horse brought $42,000, so that part was good. I was really pleased with the crowd.
“I thought most of the horses sold well. The Ontario-breds sold very well, again. We don’t have a lot of them in the sale and that’s a supply and demand thing, but we’re fortunate to have some good ones. We had a few Sportswriters that sold very well. I thought Betterthancheddars sold well. We had some very nice horses.”
Donovan has purchased nine yearlings at the sale and spent a total of $689,000, which ranks him sixth on the list of the sale’s top buyers.
“My number one pick was a sister to Band of Angels,” Donovan said of hip #26, a Rock N Roll Heaven filly out of Time N Again named Let’s Fall In Love that he purchased or $150,000. “Band of Angels was a great filly for me and Ron Burke trained her and he’ll be training the full sister. I actually think the full sister is a better individual than Band of Angels was and she was an absolutely gorgeous two-year-old, so I was hellbent on getting (Let’s Fall In Love).”
Though Donovan has yet to land a Muscle Hill or Somebeachsomewhere yearling at the sale, he said it’s not for lack of trying.
“Like everybody, I want a Muscle Hill. I was hoping to be part of the group that purchased #70 with Ron Burke,” Donovan said of the $800,000 sale topper, a full-brother to Mission Brief that sold the first night to a group put together by agent Ernie Martinez. Burke said he was the underbidder and went to $750,000 on the colt before giving up. “There are a couple of Muscle Hill’s selling at Harrisburg that we’ll be looking at. I’m going into Harrisburg looking for two horses — a Muscle Hill colt and a Somebeach filly.
“The (Lexington) sale is a lot stronger than I anticipated. Obviously, I think everybody coming into the sale thought that the Muscle Hills would be through the roof and they have been… He’s earned that because his offspring have absolutely proven themselves on the track. The Europeans have been here making their presence felt and I think that’s good for everyone.”