The Fasig-Tipton July Sale concluded a successful return to the marketplace in Kentucky on Tuesday with a yearling session that surpassed the levels set back in the pre-Covid world of 2019.

Forced to sit out last year due to the pandemic, this year’s yearling auction featured the sale of 208 lots for a total of $21,608,500, up 16% from 2019. The average hit $103,887, which marked a 13% increase over 2019, while the median of $80,000 represented a rise of 7%.

As its name suggests, the Fasig-Tipton Select July Sale is an auction that prides itself on the selection of forward, well-conformed individuals capable of passing the rigours of a strict commercial market. Even so, the level of enthusiasm shown by buyers in Kentucky this week still came as a welcome surprise, especially in light of the lingering uncertainty emanating from the pandemic. As a result, it should provide plenty of confidence for the rest of the year’s North American yearling sales season going forward.

“It was a strong start to the 2021 yearling sales season,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “We were very encouraged when we went to the farms to inspect yearlings by the quality of horses we were seeing, and certainly the two-year-old sales were encouraging, so we had a lot of optimism. I don’t think any of us [hoped] to surpass the 2019 numbers… so to be over 2019 is very encouraging.”

Only six yearlings by North America’s champion sire Into Mischief were catalogued and predictably they were in demand, accounting for three of the top four lots.

They were led by a filly out of Cashing Tickets who sold for $800,000 to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and LNJ Foxwoods. Consigned by Burleson Farms, the filly is a half-sister to current stakes winner Leggs Galore and out of an unraced sister to Grade 3 winner Conveyance.

Into Mischief also supplied the second most expensive lot of the day in a filly out of the stakes-placed Anahauc. Mike Rutherford, owner of Manchester Farm, went to $350,000 to secure the filly, who was sold by Four Star Sales on behalf of Spendthrift Farm, the home of Into Mischief.

The Candy Ride colt out of Beyond Grace that sold for $350,000

“He’s an amazing stallion,” Browning said of Into Mischief. “He is always at the top of the boards. He produces colts, fillies, Derby winners, Classic winners, grass, dirt, short, long. He is the consummate professional as a stallion and there is a high demand for [his offspring], as there should be because of the potential reward on the track.”

Outside of Into Mischief, a high-profile sale also came the way of Lane’s End’s veteran Candy Ride, the sire of a colt who realised $350,000 to owner James Bernhard. Out of the unplaced Unclo Mo mare Beyond Grace, the colt boasts the distinction of being the first yearling offered at public auction by his breeder, the ambitious Larry Best of OXO Equine LLC, and was offered through Taylor Made Sales Agency.

The return of the ‘First-Crop Sires Showcase’, last staged in 2010, was also well received. Approximately 140 yearlings by this year’s first-crop stallions were catalogued, the majority of them within the first 100 lots. Lane’s End Farm’s City Of Light emerged best among his contemporaries thanks to an average of $165,000 for four sold while the former Aidan O’Brien-trained Mendelssohn also enjoyed a strong yearling auction debut with an average of $151,667. The sole offering by American Triple Crown hero Justify, a filly, made $210,000 to The Elkstone Group LLC.

“It’s kind of going back to our roots,” Browning said of the return of the Freshman Sire Showcase. “For years, our reputation in July was great physicals. We may be forgiving a little bit on pedigree and sire power, but if you have a good-looking colt or filly that looks precocious, that is what we are about in July. It helps build momentum for the farms as well.”

Monday’s session, devoted to horses in training and an inaugural slot featuring breeding stock, was headed by the sale of stakes winner Front Run The Fed for $440,000 to George Sharp.

Recent Iowa Derby winner Stilleto Boy also rang a bell, selling for $420,000 to Steve Moger.

On what was another highly encouraging day of trade, 79 horses of racing age sold for $5,905,500 at an average of $74,753. During the breeding stock session, 44 fillies and mares changed hands for $2,012,000 and an average of $45,727.