08/08/2016 10:27PM

Fasig Saratoga: Pioneerof the Nile colt leads steady opening session

Barbara D. Livingston
A Pioneerof the Nile colt sold for $950,000 to the partnership of Coolmore and Stonestreet to lead the opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale.

The opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale saw steady, if slightly muted, returns on Monday, with mild declines in gross and average sale price and an increased median in a session led by a $950,000 Pioneerof the Nile colt.

According to figures reported by the sale company shortly after the close of business on Monday, the opening session saw 73 horses change hands for revenues of $21,215,000, down 2 percent from last year’s first day of selling when 70 yearlings sold for a combined $21,745,000.

The average sale price fell 6 percent from $310,643 to $290,616, while the median rose 7 percent from $225,000 to $240,000.

No horses reached the seven-figure mark on Monday. Eleven 11 yearlings brought $500,000 or more, one fewer than hit that mark in the opening session last year.

Last year’s opening session posted an unusually low buyback rate of 18 percent, which rose to 30 percent on Monday.

“We see a market that has slightly increased selectivity,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “It was amazing to watch the sale tonight, on some of the more expensive lots and some of the big players would stop, or they’d bid $5,000 or $10,000 and they won’t bid again, so there’s restraint in all levels of the marketplace.

“People are watching what they spend,” Browning continued. “They have limits. They might bid a time or two beyond what they thought they might go, but they don’t bid with great enthusiasm and without restraint, and I think that’s reflective of the results.”

As the Monday’s session neared its conclusion, the familiar tag team of Stonestreet Stables and the Coolmore partnership made the biggest splash yet, buying a Pioneerof the Nile colt named Ocean Pioneer for $950,000.

Bred in Kentucky by Thor-Bred Stables, the bay colt is out of the winning Stormy Atlantic mare Ocean Goddess, whose first foal to race is the Grade 3-winning Curlin colt Ocean Knight. The colt, who races for Stonestreet, finished second at Saratoga on Monday off a long layoff. The colt is also from the family of Grade 3 winners Winter Melody, Godmother, and Brazen Persuasion. 

John Moynihan, bloodstock adviser for Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Stables, said the price was a bit higher than he expected, but the right ones warrant giving a little more.

"He's a pretty horse by a great stallion, and we own his brother [Ocean Knight]," Moynihan said. "We thought a lot of his brother, we still do. This was one of our favorite horses here, so we took a shot."

Long-term plans were still to be determined for the new purchase, but Moynihan said the colt would be sent to the Stonestreet Training Center near Ocala, Fla. to be started.

Ocean Pioneer was consigned by Gainesway, as agent.

"The pedigree was beautiful, besides the horse himself," said Brian Graves of Gainesway. "It was the same cross as American Pharoah, and he'll make a good-looking stallion. He was absolutely one of the standout horses of our consignment."

Monday’s top filly was a half-sister to unbeaten champion Songbird, by Ghostzapper out of the Grade 2-winning West Acre mare Ivanavinalot. The filly sold to the Haughey family’s PTK Racing for $800,000, also making it evening’s second-highest overall price.

Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency consigned the filly, as agent.

Dane Kobiskie, who trains for PTK Racing, said the filly would be sent to McCutchen Training Center in Kingstree, S.C., to be broken over the winter.

“Her physique was amazing,” Kobiskie said. “Obviously, you’ve got the residual value of the breeding behind her. She’s worth every bit of that. She looks like a runner, as well, so how could you go wrong?"

The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale concludes Tuesday, with the final session beginning at 6:30 p.m.

To view hip-by-hip results from Monday's opening session, click here.

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, session 1 results

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2016 73 (+4%) $21,215,000 (-2%) $290,616 (-6%) $240,000 (+7%) 30%
2015 70 $21,745,000 $310,643 $225,000 18%