Four years of million-dollar horses and gross sales of more than $20 million . . . Names, big names, on the roster of buyers and sellers . . . Seventy-nine horses selling for at least $100,000 in 2018 . . . Graduates such as Call Paul, Army Mule, Concrete Rose and Fourstar Crook.
Fasig-Tipton Midlantic’s May 2-year-old sale in Timonium, Md., used to be an overachiever, the little guy in the equation alongside bigger names in Florida and Kentucky. Consignors used to take horses to early-season sales, and save Timonium as the back-up plan. Miss some training? Have a bad work? Failed to attract the right attention? You could always go to Timonium.
This year’s sale – set for May 20-21 with workouts May 14-16 – topped out at 600 horses. Or at least the mid-April catalog. It’ll change a little for sure, might include an addendum and could have been even larger if the stable area could accommodate more horses more peacefully.
Timonium, home to the Maryland State Fair and a short race meet in the summer and scads of other weekend shows/conventions/sales/exhibitions the rest of the year, has shoved its way into the 2-year-old sales picture despite its location far north of most consignors, a unique 5-furlong track and a reputation that time may have passed the old racetrack by.
But it works.
“The biggest thing about that sale is there’s more middle there than anywhere,” said Mark Roberts, of consignor Hidden Brook. “Guys are looking for horses. They’re eager to buy horses, racehorses, there. It’s a great spot to sell a horse.”
Despite its length and “bullring” reputation, the track is also an asset. First, it’s dirt. Second, it’s used sparingly. Third, it’s well-maintained. Early dates in Florida are at Gulfstream Park, where the track has been use daily for training and racing all winter, and the Ocala Breeders Sales Company’s synthetic track.
“The track is always in great shape, I love the dirt,” said buyer Dennis O’Neill, who bought the sales topper last year. “Sometimes you can get a little fooled with synthetic track. There’s nothing wrong with it and it’s not the times at all, we are absolutely looking at the stride. To me, the stride’s a little easier to see on a dirt track.”
Consignor Michelle Hemingway sees that stride from the other side, but agreed.
“You get a true racetrack,” she said. “They don’t run on it as much, and it doesn’t get worked on as much. If you have a horse that’s the right size [mainly, not too big], it’s going to be more honest than any other track.”
With 600 horses, it’s impossible to check in on them all, but we took an advance look at the catalog and talked to a handful of consignors about their strings. Call it a stable tour though, if you’re shopping, you better take your own.
Consignor Courtney Young roughs it in Maryland for the winter, but has found a niche at the May sale thanks to a creative approach at Glengar Farm (once home to regional training power Henry Clark) and Pimlico Race Course. The work starts in the paddocks – bending, figure-eights, old-school stuff. Then it’s hacking on the hills. Finally, in early February, it’s Pimlico where the youngsters usually surprise their trainer with their fitness and maturity level.
“Every year, I hold my breath about them being fit before I get them to Pimlico and they all handle it fine,” said Young, who used to work for major consignor Eddie Woods. “It was a different winter. We had rock-hard ground or a deep swamp of mud, but it worked out.”
Young’s 2019 group numbers four –
colts by Gemologist, Maclean’s Music and Golden Lad and a filly by Street Magician. They’re as different as their sires.
The Golden Lad colt is the biggest, with some flash on three legs of a dark bay body. The Gemologist colt stays under the radar. He’s bay, no white, nothing fancy. Put him on the racetrack, however, and he blooms. “I can do everything,” Young said, paraphrasing her horse. “What do you want me to do? I like this.”
The Maclean’s Music colt is the “fancy pants” of the group. Mud wasn’t his thing. Neither was frozen ground. He loves Pimlico, however, and has quickly made his presence felt. “He’s done everything,” Young said. “When you need him to step up to the plate he does. And I’m like, ‘Please step up at Timonium.’ ”
The lone filly is the smallest, but more than holds her own. Young does most of the work herself, and frequently leads a 2-year-old while riding another. The filly handles both sides of that task. “She will tolerate a little bit of bumping into her, but she’s like ‘Don’t push your luck.’ She likes to dig in and fight with them when we work them together too.” Bred by Tom and Chris Bowman, the dark bay comes from a truly Maryland family. Her dam Phyxius was bred by trainer Dickie Small, and made 32 starts – earning $220,0146 with just three wins (but 20 seconds and thirds). She placed in several stakes and has produced six winners. Her sister Tookin Down won a Grade 3 for Small, earned $419,459 and produced 20-race winner Take Down Two.
“I really like the horses I’ve gotten off the Bowmans,” said Young. “They’re hardy. They’re tough. She’s out of an older mare, but that mare was really a good, hard-trying racehorse. The Bowmans breed sturdy horses that can run. I think she’s going to show really nicely, she has a great attitude and really picks things up quickly.”
Young appreciates the chance to sell horses in her home state, but also knows the drill. As the sale continues to improve in quality, small consignors have to prove they belong.
“I feel like I’m bringing four horses that deserve to be there,” she said. “I’m not somebody who’s been doing this forever or is selling million-dollar horses but I feel like I’ve made some good purchases and I don’t think they’re going to disappoint me. I’m bringing quality and that’s what my goal is. It’s just like racing, you cross your t’s and dot your i’s but at some point it’s out of your control a little bit and up to the horses.”
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Cary Frommer doesn’t only buy and sell at Timonium, but she’s partial to the sales venue – whether it’s autumn for yearlings or May for 2-year-olds.
“I actually buy horses for Maryland now,” she said. “That’s not something I used to do. Sometimes, it’s their date of birth. If you have a May foal, you don’t have to go to an early sale. You can say, ‘This’ll be a horse who stands out in Maryland’ and have all the time you need.”
The Aiken, S.C.-based consignor plans to bring 22 to Timonium and they span all sides of the game – from $4,000 yearlings to half-brothers to hurdle winners to six-figure pinhooks. As Frommer put it, Timonium fits all of them.
“Wherever the buyers are, that’s where the sellers are going to go,” she said. “Every year it’s producing good horses. That’s where buyers are going to go to find those horses now. It’s in a different part of country, the time of the Preakness, it’s just kind of freaked on us a little.”
Frommer spent $250,000 to buy Hip 555, a Malibu Moon colt, at Saratoga last summer and the chestnut heads to Timonium on an upswing. “I think he’ll love it there,” Frommer said. “He’s really maturing nicely.”
The consignment includes three Cairo Prince juveniles. Two, a filly out of Graceontour ($180,000) and a colt out of Severn Shore ($275,000), went unsold at Fasig-Tipton’s Florida sale in March.
“That’s such a select sale there and people either get on a horse or they don’t,” Frommer said. “I couldn’t sell [future graded stakes winner] Maximus Mischief in Miami last year. I took him to Timonium and sold him for more than I wanted in Miami.”
Pennsylvania horseman Clovis Crane did not send horses to Florida this year and put 32 horses in the Timonium catalog. The reason is personal. The early sales are during youth wrestling season and Crane’s the coach.
“Last year at Gulfstream, my little girl and son were both in the league championships and I was sitting in my trailer in Florida,” said the former college wrestler. “I couldn’t help them at all from there, and I told myself I’d never miss it again.”
It’s not all half-nelsons and arm bars, though.
“That sale has done well, lots of good horses come out of there and buyers are going to be there so you don’t have to go to other sales as much,” said Crane. At some point over the winter, he was having second thoughts about the all-in strategy but got some advice.
“Clovis, stick to your plan,” said Fasig-Tipton’s Boyd Browning Jr. Crane pressed on, and prepped his 2-year-olds through a wet winter with help from his 20,000 square foot indoor arena, a farm training track with an uphill stretch and trips to nearby Penn National Race Course.
“I think I’ve done a better job,” he said. “I went back to my roots for getting them a little further along than I had in the past. They’re all gate-schooled, they’re all going well. I’ve got a couple that are close to running, but I think I’ll wait.”
Crane’s consignment includes a Street Sense colt who brought $110,000 as a weanling. Hip 546 was showing signs of being ready for a race, but his trainer backed off a bit and put it simply, “He can really run.” Hip 587, a Broken Vow colt out of Winning Scoop, grew to 16.3 hands and was improving every day. “He walks like a mountain lion,” Crane said. “Dressage people would drool to have him.” The second career can wait though. Crane bought Hip 397, a Flatter colt, for $27,000 as a yearling from Claiborne Farm. The full-brother to Grade 3 winner Economic Model and stakes winner Your Love is a half-brother to two other stakes winners and seems to have enjoyed a winter of growth. “He breezed really fast the other day so I’m pretty excited about him,” Crane said. “He has tons and tons of pedigree and would have been a Miami horse if I went there this year.”
And then there’s the white horse. Crane spent $7,500 to buy Hip 358 as a yearling and thinks the colt might be more than a conversation piece. First of all, he’s by Lucky Pulpit (California Chrome, anyone?). Second, he’s a New York-bred. Third, he’s put together.
“He’s the only white horse I’ve ever seen that’s had a really good hip and looks fast,” said Crane, who has owned two others and seen plenty. “He has a good engine, Lucky Pulpit we know can get a runner, and the New York-bred sure doesn’t hurt with purses at Finger Lakes being increased. He’s come along nicely and has been fun already. I’ve had 30 people ask about him.”
The colt’s dam Passionforfashion, a daughter of Old Fashioned, is registered as white as is her dam Turf Club. The latter is by Trust N Luck (chestnut) and out of the Gone West mare Deebrand (a dark bay).
From Kentucky with 2-year-olds
Last year at Timonium, consignor Justin Wojczynski sold (among others) future graded stakes winner Concrete Rose in the first sale under his White Pine Thoroughbreds banner after several years with Cary Frommer. Wojczynski returns with eight, this time from a new base in Kentucky.
“We braved the winter and got it done with no real problems,” Wojczynski said. “We’re glad it’s spring time, but from my standpoint the track at The Thoroughbred Center [in Lexington] was very good. We had a few rough days ourselves, but the horses didn’t seem to mind.”
White Pine took three horses to the revived Keeneland Sale in April, but aimed the rest to Maryland. The group includes 2-year-olds by Orb, Twirling Candy, Jimmy Creed, Malibu Moon, Colonel John and Imagining. A Seville (Ger) filly owned by Maryland-based Wasabi Venture Stables, will meet White Pine in Timonium.
“The Orb (Hip 46) is a New York-bred and looks the part of an early 2-year-old,” said Wojczynski. “He was going to Keeneland in April at one point, but I thought he might sell better with New York folks being more prevalent in the Mid-Atlantic marketplace.”
White Pine’s 2-year-olds share the training track at The Thoroughbred Center with a variety of racehorses and Wojczynski likes the experience his horses gain.
“I’ve got a Malibu Moon colt who breezed very well here the other day,” said Wojczynski. “He’s a big strong horse, and very level-headed. His professionalism will help him. You’ve got to be able to handle everything too and he does.”
A Timonium Rookie
Michelle Hemingway brings her first consignment to Timonium, but is no stranger to the region as the daughter of former Mid-Atlantic trainer Clarke Whitaker. She has Virginia roots, rode hunters and jumpers, worked for Dale Jenkins and Lucy Walker at Montpelier and graduated from Sweet Briar College near Lynchburg. Her international equine business and marketing degree (with a Spanish minor) served her well while working with horses – first in South Africa and in the Ocala, Fla. area since 2008.
Her Hemingway Racing and Training business started in 2014, and she credited Fasig-Tipton with at least some of the momentum.
“Boyd Browning has been really great to me in getting me started,” she said. “He helped me out, told me to come to Saratoga and look at some horses and allowed me to get going.”
She entered 22 for Timonium, and got 12 slots. The group goes in all directions including a colt and a filly by Pioneerof the Nile, a filly by Maryland sire Friesan Fire, a Pennsylvania-bred colt by Carpe Diem and a Competitive Edge filly whose favorite person might be Hemingway’s 8-year-old son Raymond.
“My business is still fledgling so I’m not in position to spend $300,000 on a yearling, because when you do that, sometimes you don’t have a lot of room for improvement,” she said. “If you’re a smaller consignor, you don’t want to get into that game too quickly.”
In March at Ocala, Hemingway sold a Paynter colt for $150,000. He cost $1,900 as a weanling. She’ll hope for similar success at Timonium, even if that’s a difficult follow.
Hip 76, a Pioneerof the Nile colt, sold for $12,000 as a yearling and has impressed Hemingway with his development.
“Alex Payne at Taylor Made showed me the horse and said he’s slipping in under the radar,” Hemingway said. “I planned to pay 40 to 60. He’s just blossomed into the most beautiful horse. He looks just like his sire. I’m really, really excited about him.”
Breeder Fred Hertrich III sent Hemingway a Pioneerof the Nile filly whose family includes the sire Temple City and European star Maximova (Fr). The bay failed to sell as a yearling, but should attract attention at Timonium.
“She’s a late May foal and was just small during the October sale and has just grown into beautiful filly who stands over a lot of ground and has a lot of stature,” said Hemingway.
The Competitive Edge filly (Hip 160) will win you over in the shedrow, but she’s got some talent too.
“She’s the easiest horse to train, anybody can ride her and she’s got the best personality,” said Hemingway. “My kid plays with her like she was his pet. Put her on the racetrack though, and she’s fast.”
Big Names, Big Money?
Florida consignor Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds topped the sale at $1.2 million for a Medaglia d’Oro colt in 2018 and $1.5 million for a Curlin colt in 2017 and returns with a fleet for 2019. The group includes horses by American Pharoah, Bernardini, Bayern, War Front, Medaglia d’Oro, Pioneerof the Nile, Carpe Diem, Palace, Into Mischief, Honor Code, Justin Phillip, City Zip and Cairo Prince.
The pinhooker scoreboard watchers will be looking at Hip 17, a Bayern filly purchased for $600,000 at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga last year. The chestnut is out of American Story, whose three foals to race (all by Concord Point) include Grade 1 winner American Gal and stakes winner Americanize. Hip 243, a Medaglia d’Oro colt out of Grade 2 winner Laughing Lashes, brought $450,000 at Keeneland September while the two Pioneerof the Nile colts brought $300,000 each among a 14-horse consignment.
Second leading consignor by gross and third by average last year, Bobby Dodd put 27 in the catalog.
Eddie Woods will be busy thanks to a consignment that goes 28 deep. Hip 188, a colt by American Pharoah and out of major winner Hessonite. Woods’ consignment includes three horses for Virginia’s Daybreak Stables, a Congrats homebred colt, a Giant’s Causeway filly whose female family extends to Hall of Famer Personal Ensign, and a homebred Alpha colt whose second dam Art Fan won stakes at Colonial Downs and Laurel Park for Bill Backer.
Hip 32 will get plenty of attention because of his sire Tapit, though his female family might be even more worthy of a look. Dam Assateague, racing for trainer Michael Matz, won twice at Saratoga and captured the 2014 Dr. James Penny Memorial-G3 at Parx Racing while earning just shy of $400,000. Her first foal sold for $825,000 as a 2-year-old in 2017. Others in the female family, the first few generations bred by Helen Alexander, Helen Groves and D.D. Matz, include stakes winner Amelia, Grade 3 winner Rainha Da Bateria, Grade 3 winner Kindergarten Kid and others. Follow that pedigree back – and off the catalog page – and there’s Courtly Dee. A foal of 1968, by Never Bend out of the War Admiral mare Tulle, Courtly Dee was a claimer on the track but left a long legacy. Her early foals included Grade 1 winner Ali Oop, Grade 3 winner Native Courier and stakes winner Princess Oola. In 1980, Groves, Alexander and David Aykroyd bought the mare for $900,000 – and got a bargain. She produced five more stakes winners including champion Althea, and Grade 2 winners Aishah and Aquilegia. The 1983 Broodmare of the Year died in 1995 but her impact continues through her daughters and their daughters with major winners Balleto, Acoma, Arch, Aldiza, Atelier, Azzaam, Seattle Dawn, Green Desert and Bayern turning up in the pedigree.
Whew, feel free to read that paragraph again. Maybe take a nap afterward.
As Hip 32 proves, Timonium attracts all kinds. And two days after the Preakness, you can see for yourself.Y