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Options aplenty for Distinta after topping July Sale opener

Session-topper helps auction post big year-on-year gains

Distinta: daughter of Summer Bird is a Grade 2 winner
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Stiff competition for racehorses, especially accomplished well-bred fillies and mares, fueled a vibrant July horses of racing age market at Fasig-Tipton, with the Monday auction soaring past last year's numbers.

The offerings, a diverse group that included a two-year-old filly that won at Ellis Park on Sunday, proved popular with the large group of owners, agents, and trainers assembled at the Fasig-Tipton Newtown Paddocks in Lexington.

From 126 horses cataloged, Fasig-Tipton reported 84 lots sold for $8,083,000, up 60 per cent over the $5,048,500 aggregate a year ago when 72 horses were sold. The average improved 37 per cent to $96,226 from $70,118 and the median was a horses of racing age sale record $56,000, compared with $42,000 in 2016.

The 15 horses from 99 through the ring that did not sell represented a 15 per cent buy-back rate.

Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said the numbers reflected the quality of the offerings and the positive vibe on the sale grounds leading up to the sale, which preceded the selected July yearling sale on Tuesday.

"You could feel the energy the last day-and-a-half on the grounds," Browning said. "It's no secret at the end of the day when you have quality horses it gives you an opportunity to attract the proper buyers and create an atmosphere that is conducive to a strong sale and it was certainly a strong marketplace tonight."

Browning said the sale, now in its fifth year, has shown there is demand within the market for a public auction of racehorses.

"It kind of felt like this was a breakthrough that says this is an established sale that fills a niche in the marketplace and is a great place to buy and sell horses," Browning said.

Distinta steals the show

With buyers showing a distinct preference for well-bred, accomplished fillies and mares, the sale-topper at $600,000 was Distinta, a beautiful five-year-old daughter of Summer Bird who has won or been placed in 15 of her 23 starts and earned $346,715.

Winner of the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes earlier this year, the chestnut mare most recently finished second in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney Stakes Presented by Hardacre Farm earlier this month for Veb Racing Stable and trainer Victor Barboza Jr.

Mark Taylor, whose family's Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned Distinta, explained that the buyer is a partnership consisting of four entities that includes Medallion Racing, which is a partnership group formed by Taylor Made.

"I actually thought she would bring more," Taylor said, noting that he was unaware of the reserve price. "I knew she was going to cost north of $500,000. We said 'if we can get her for $600,000, we'll take a shot, and if we can't, let somebody else have her.

"I thought we would get blown out of the water, but I'm happy we got her."

Taylor said others within the Taylor Made organisation handled the mare as part of the consignment, while he and others represented Medallion in the bidding for Distinta.

"We try to keep that completely objective," Taylor said of the relationship between the sales agency and the partnership. "My nephew Marshall and sales associate Sebastian Angelilo, who is from Uruguay, were dealing with Ramiro Restrepo who works with Fasig-Tipton, and that's how we got the contact with the owner and the trainer. Marshall and Sebastian were handling the seller, and me and Leif Aaron and Philip Shelton were handling the Medallion Racing part."

He said the mare could continue to be campaigned into early 2018, with others in the partnership deciding who will train her, and then possibly be bred and re-sold. "The door is open to a lot of different options," Taylor said.

Taylor said Medallion Racing's business model is to buy into "proven horses that can run in high-level stakes and was a good way to get new people into the business."

Bred in Kentucky by Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton, and Fern Farm, Distinta was produced from the unraced Storm Cat mare Miss Kitty. Monday's sale marked the fourth time the mare had been sold at public auction, bringing $7,000 as a weanling, $30,000 as a yearling, and $80,000 at two.

Lucky third for Levy

The action began early, with the third horse through the ring, Adorable Miss, being knocked down to Michael Levy of Bluewater Sales for $585,000. Levy said the three-year-old daughter of Kitten's Joy was bought by an unnamed client who had directed him to attempt to buy her from the Elite Sales consignment.

"She's a beautiful physical," Levy said. "The owner picked her out, and I was just doing the job. The client did a lot of his own homework."

Trained by Todd Pletcher for Mathis Stable, Adorable Miss has won three of four starts, including the Martha Washington Stakes this month at Gulfstream Park, where she also won the Honey Ryder Stakes earlier in the year. Bred in Kentucky by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Adorable Miss is a sister to Grade 3 stakes winner Noble Beauty and was bought by Pletcher for $155,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

Levy said the filly would be sent back to Pletcher to continue racing.

Happy Mesa the apple of Carroll's eye

Trainer Mike Maker signed at $525,000 on behalf of Justin Carroll's Out Of This World Racing for Happy Mesa, a daughter of Sky Mesa who recently won the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in near course-record time for a mile on the turf. The three-year-old filly, consigned by Elite Sales, is from the female family of Grade 1 Test Stakes winner Missed the Storm, as well as champion Hall of Famer Chris Evert.

"She's a three-year-old filly with a nice pedigree and Justin Carroll really loved her," Maker said of the acquisition.

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I thought we would get blown out of the water, but I'm happy we got her
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