The record-setting sales of thoroughbred yearlings, which have swept the country this year, left their mark on Maryland yesterday as the state's first three-day horse auction concluded at Timonium.
Known as the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall yearling sale, the auction at the state fairgrounds set standards for horses sold (514), total sales ($9,849,700) and average price ($19,163). The total was up 23 percent from last year, when fewer horses sold over only two days, and the average was up 2 percent.
"As far as we're concerned it was a [heck] of a sale," said Mason Grasty, executive vice president of the Elkton sales company.
Fifteen yearlings sold for $100,000 or more -- another record -- including the sales topper Monday, a Kentucky-bred son of Lord Carson that brought $320,000. Cam Allard, a Canadian buyer, purchased the colt.
Allard, the New Yorker -- Ernie Paragallo -- and the Californians -- Jan, Mace and Samantha Siegel -- were the biggest buyers, further verification that the Timonium sale has become a national attraction.
"No one knows until they come out of the gate how good they're going to be," said Bob Manfuso, a Howard County horseman, of the year-old horses prancing in and out of the ring. "But dollar for dollar, the horses coming out of this sale offer better value than virtually any sale in the country."
Yearling prices have soared at auctions around the country this summer and fall because of the strong American economy and the faith of horse owners in the future of horse racing. Their optimism revolves around the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which promised at its creation in spring 1998 to increase the sport's popularity and attract new bettors.
Like thousands of Marylanders, Josh Pons, whose family owns Country Life Farm near Bel Air, depends on the success of the auctions. Country Life is one of the state's top two thoroughbred breeding farms.
"Because we're not independently wealthy from other things, we have to sell horses to keep going," Pons said. "As long as these horses have a market, we can continue being a horse farm and not a housing development."
Pub Date: 10/07/99