He didn't top the sale, didn't really help the average all that much, but Andrew Motion left Monday's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearlings sale in Timonium, Md. with a big smile.
The Virginia horseman jumped back into the sales game by selling two fillies under his Old Chapel Farm banner for $48,000 - nearly five times their combined purchase price at Keeneland in January. Motion, whose sales/breeding farm background includes time with Three Chimneys, Airdrie, North Ridge, Audley and Lazy Lane farms in the United States plus the Irish National Stud, Sheikh Mohammed's Dallam Hall in England and a few years in New Zealand, hung out a consignor's shingle for the first time and enjoyed it.
"The sales are my love," he said after getting $28,000 for a Spring At Last filly early in the day. "I always said I'd do it again and that if I did I'd do it for myself. We're just getting started, but hopefully it will lead to a bit more. Maybe we'll start selling for other people, or at least taking in some clients to oversee some sales prep, and we'll see."
Motion and his wife Janie have a small farm in Upperville, Va. His daughters Mary and Lillibet are both out of high school and the idea of getting back into the Thoroughbred game at some level kept coming back to Motion. He never lost his horse connection, he's just been pursuing other things - managing a farm, getting his real-estate license, helping the girls grow up without their mother, Motion's first wife Patty, who died of cancer in 2004. Lillibet attends Sewanee University in Tennessee and is an accomplished show rider. Mary, who rode steeplechases as an amateur, is working with Thoroughbreds in England with plans to attend the University of Delaware next year.
Motion credits Janie with the push to test the sales game again.
"I think she got tired of hearing me talk about it," he said. "She said it was time to do something. She practically chased me out of the house and sent me to Keeneland."
At the January sale, Motion spent $7,000 on the Spring At Last filly, a half-sister to stakes winner King And Crusader and the stakes-placed Homesteader. The dark bay started out small, but grew up on the farm - along with the donkeys, lambs and dogs who also reside there. Monday, she caught the eye of trainer Jamie Ness. He signed the ticket for the powerful Midwest Thoroughbreds operation and Motion's filly is on her way to a racing career. Also at Keeneland, Motion spent $3,000 on an Artie Schiller filly. He called her a "fuzzy little thing" then, but liked her walk and was rewarded with a $20,000 sale to Maryland trainer Alex White.
In both cases, the fillies improved with some farm life.
"Buying weanlings, I try to look for a big walk and as correct as possible but if you've got a correct weanling with a big walk you're going to have a hard time buying them because everybody is looking for that," Motion said. "You just kind of look for diamonds in the rough. The Artie Schiller filly was a backward little filly but she had a big, old walk to her. The Spring At Last filly was tiny (at Keeneland), but was just athletic and well put together."
The Kentucky-breds went home to the farm, ate plenty of Virginia grass, learned the ropes and looked the part in the ring Monday.
"I'm not at the high end of the market and I don't want to get lost in the shuffle," Motion said. "At this price range you can get lost in the shuffle pretty easily at a bigger sale. If you come here with a nice horse you can stand out a little bit. We were really busy, had a lot of people looking at them. I'm really pleased."
He's also glad it's over.
"I haven't had a lot of sleep the last couple nights," Motion said. "We didn't spend a ridiculous amount of money on them, but you think about how it's all going to go. I'm not going to spend a huge amount of money because I'm not a huge gambler and I just don't have that much money to spend. Hopefully if I can make a little money, pump it back in and keep building the momentum."
He's off to a good start.
Up across the board
Sales results were strong Monday as Fasig-Tipton sold 289 yearlings for $7,469,900. The average price was $25,847 with the median $17,000. All numbers were increases over last year with the gross up more than $1.3 million, the average up more than $3,000 and the median up $5,000.
"We weren't shocked, but when you go through those sales results the nice thing is the diversity of owners and the participation from people from various states and in all price ranges," said Fasig-Tipton's Boyd Browning afterward. "It's really a sign of a healthy market. It was very encouraging. It just felt good. At 3 o'clock this afternoon if you walked in you'd say 'I'm at a real horse sale.' It's not like going to the dentist or something. People were excited to be here, there was a lot going on and that's contagious."
Candlyand Farm topped the sale at $250,000 for a Quality Road colt out of Chalonnaise. Hip 186 was supposed to sell at Saratoga this summer, but colicked the day of the sale and was scratched. The half-brother to three winners, a Kentucky-bred, hit the media number from Saratoga at Timonium with Todd Pletcher client Bortolazzo Stable making the purchase.
"We were very depressed, all of us," said Candyland's Herb Moelis about the Saratoga scratch. "You just keep prepping and saying we're going to be OK. And yet Saratoga to Timonium is a little bit of a difference. Up there, the feeling is there's plenty of money. Here, you aren't sure. The people at Fasig-Tipton were very cooperative, very helpful. In the end he sold for what he should have sold for. He's a nice colt."
Hip 380, a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Stormy Atlantic, was the highest-priced filly at $150,000. Consigned by Paramount Sales, the chestnut is a granddaughter of multiple graded stakes winner Shine Again. Matthew Schera, seated next to Maryland trainer Chuck Lawrence, signed the ticket.
Cary Frommer bought the second-highest priced horse (at $175,000), a Maryland-bred colt by Tiz Wonderful out of Memories of Mystic. Consigned by Dark Hollow Farm, Hip 325 is a half-brother to stakes winner Mystic Love, who graced the catalogue's back cover as a successful graduate. A strong sale wasn't a total surprise, though the big number was a nice bonus.
"I thought we could get 75 to 100, he has a look about him," said Dark Hollow's JoAnn Hayden. "He's got a big a big, old walk on him and he just has a look about him. People kept saying his sire seems to have more narrow horses than him, but they've never seen his mother. She's a stocky thing. We had a lot of scopes and a lot of people looking, but you never know. He's a lovely colt and we foaled the mare so there's a long connection."