Tuesday’s Fasig-Tipton 2-year-olds in training sale at Lone Star in Texas was a success by one meaningful indicator: Average price for horses sold.
This year, according to figures released by Fasig-Tipton (click here for results), 144 head averaged $17,201 versus 168 horses that sold for an average price of $17,161 last year. This is the first significant North American sale in 2009 that has not declined in average price from a year ago. [The Thoroughbred Times reported that 145 horses sold for an average of $17,129. Click here to read the Times recap.] The Times reported that the buy-back rate also improved from 35.4 percent to 30 percent, but according to the Fasig-Tipton numbers aggregate and median were down from a year ago, $2,477,000 versus $2,883,000 and $9,650 versus $15,000, respectively. The 36 percent drop in median from a year ago is actually more in line with the current sales trends nationally.
Fasig-Tipton, of course, is now controlled by Middle Eastern interests, and the company has been making concerted efforts this year to recruit buyers. At the Fasig-Tipton Calder 2-year-olds in training sale last month, which was down about 31 percent by average, the company wined and dined prospective buyers.
For the Texas sale, they spread the word in Dubai with the Jebel Ali Racecourse set. Jebel Ali is owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s brother Sheikh Ahmed (bin Rashid Al Maktoum) and takes a back seat to Nad Al Sheba (and now Meydan). One of the big names at Jebel Ali is Sri Lankan-born trainer Adi Selvaratnam, who was by far the leading buyer at the Texas sale with 15 purchases for $701,000. Selvaratnam’s horses averaged $46,733, and his total outlay amounted to 28 percent of the sale aggregate! Selvaratnam also accounted for a colt that made $100,000, and the most expensive filly, an Indian Charlie at $80,000. He was quoted in the Times as saying: “I know the Fasig-Tipton people in Dubai, and they suggested I come over here and take a look.”
You’ve got to hand it to Fasig-Tipton for bringing in an international buyer to Texas, and no doubt he saved the day.
Adi trained the winner of the Governor’s Cup in Sri Lanka in 1991 and was the leading trainer in Kuwait in 1994-1995 before he arrived in Dubai. His more famous brother is trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam, who was an assistant to Vincent O’Brien at Ballydoyle for 10 years before he hooked up with Sheikh Ahmed. Dhruba, in fact, helped to design Jebel Ali.