08/09/2014 11:37PM

Fasig-Tipton: New York-bred yearling sale off to strong start


Average and median were up once again at the first session of this year's Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, held Saturday night at the Humphrey S. Finney sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs, as buyers continued to pay higher prices for horses that are eligible for rich subsidies flowing from the downstate casino adjacent to Aqueduct racetrack.

Average for 92 horses sold on Saturday night, the first session of a two-night sale, was $75,370, up 11 percent compared with the average for the first session of the sale last year, when 95 horses sold for an average of $67,658. Median was $60,000, up 9 percent over the median of $55,000 for the first session last year.

The only drawback to the first session was the buyback rate of 36 percent, as 52 horses did not meet the reserves set by their consignors. Last year, the RNA rate for the first session was 29 percent.

Saturday’s session generated gross revenues of $6,934,000, up 8 percent compared with last year’s first-session gross of $6,427,500.

“Overall I thought we saw a continuation of the trends that we saw in July [at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale] and at the [Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling] select sale this year,” said Boyd Browning Jr., Fasig-Tipton’s president. “Competitive bidding for the quality offerings.”

Twenty-four horses sold for $100,000 or more during the session, or 26 percent of the total horses sold, with the highest-priced horse selling for $250,000. Last year, 18 horses sold for $100,000 or more during the first session, or 19 percent of the total. However, the highest-priced horse in the first session last year sold for $300,000.

The two sessions together have 316 horses cataloged, the most offered at the sale. Last year, 299 horses were cataloged, and that catalog was itself 15 percent larger than the 2012 catalog.

Over the past five years, prices at the New York-bred sale have doubled, as buyers sought to snap up horses eligible for restricted-race purses fattened by revenue from slot machines at the Aqueduct casino. In an upward cycle, breeders began getting larger checks for breeder bonuses, allowing them to invest more money in bloodstock to produce more marketable yearlings.

Browning and several buyers remarked during the Saturday session that the catalog had several potential sale toppers in the Sunday session. Last year, the sale-topper was sold during the second session for $430,000, a record price for a New York-bred at the Fasig-Tipton auction.

Saturday’s session-topper was a $250,000 filly by first-crop sire Tizway and out of the winning Crafty Friend mare Free as Tristan. The bay filly was consigned by Marshall Silverman, agent. Free as Tristan is the dam of Amberjack, who last year won two lucrative restricted stakes for New York-breds, the Mike Lee and New York Derby, and also the dam of Grade 1-placed Associate, who finished second in a seven-furlong optional claimer at Saratoga on Friday.

The session-topping filly was bought by Hubert Guy, as agent. Guy sends his yearling purchases to Florida for breaking and training before deciding whether to race the horses or send them through the juvenile sales as pinhooks.

Guy said that he had never purchased at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred sale before Saturday night. “I was expecting to find something very nice, and I did,” Guy said. He called the yearling “the best filly today,” suggesting that he had his eye on other lots in Sunday’s second session.

The highest-priced colt during the session was also by a first-crop sire, a $230,000 son of Ice Box out of the unraced Ghostzapper mare Fear This. Already named Fear That, the yearling was purchased by Nick Zito, as agent. Zito trained Ice Box during a career that included a win in the 2010 Florida Derby and a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. The colt was consigned by For Christopher’s Thoroughbreds, agent.

Ironically, considering the yearling was a registered New York-bred, Zito pointed to several Florida-breds in the yearling’s female family as one of the principal reasons why he was attracted to the colt, aside from his physical resemblance to Ice Box. “Those Florida-breds are all kicking ass,” Zito said. 

For hip-by-hip results, click here.

Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, first session results:

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2014 92 (-3%) $6,934,000 (+8%) $75,370 (+11%) $60,000 (+9%) 36%
2013 95 $6,427,500 $67,658 $55,000 29%