08/05/2014 11:43PM

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga: Auction ends with steady returns

Barbara D. Livingston
Willis Horton bought this War Front filly for $1.25 million Tuesday to lead the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale.

Late action during both the Monday and Tuesday sessions of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale helped the elite-level auction maintain fairly consistent figures compared with the 2013 renewal.

A total of 114 horses were sold during the two-day auction, bringing in revenues of $33,284,000. That marked a 4 percent increase compared with 2013, when 108 horses sold for $31,870,000.

The gross figures were helped by an improved buyback rate of 19 percent, down from 21 percent last year. The opening session posted a pristine buyback percentage of 10 percent, but the number began to float upward during Tuesday’s session when 11 of the first 25 horses through the ring finished under their reserves. However, the session closed strong, as only nine of the next 45 horses failed to change hands.

“The RNA rate crept up a little bit tonight, which had to be expected coming off last night,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning Jr. “It’s unrealistic to expect that two nights in a row. The combined sale finishing under 20 percent, I think, is a significant accomplishment.”

The average sale price took a 1 percent dip, from $295,093 in 2013 to $291,965 this year, while the median price dropped 5 percent, from $250,000 to $237,500.

“Overall, I think we just saw a very successful two nights of selling,” Browning said. “It was a very healthy market, very realistic, very balanced. I think there’s a level of understanding and expertise amongst our buyers and our sellers. The sellers are realistic and the buyers are willing to bid what they believe are realistic amounts on horses.”

Three horses brought seven figures during this year’s sale, one more than in 2013. A total of 17 yearlings brought $500,000 or more, improving over 13 last year.

The sale-topper went through the ring near the end of Tuesday’s session, as a War Front filly out of the winning Seeking the Gold mare Charming was bought by owner Willis Horton via trainer D. Wayne Lukas for $1.25 million.

Charming is out of 2013 Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady, making her a half-sister to champion Will Take Charge and Grade 1 winner Take Charge Indy. Charming is the dam of two winners from as many foals to race, including recent Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes runner-up Take Charge Brandi, by Giant’s Causeway.

Horton campaigns Will Take Charge and Take Charge Brandi, making the yearling filly’s pedigree especially meaningful.

“That family has been so good to the Horton family, with Will Take Charge and now this filly, Take Charge Brandi,” Lukas said. “It's pretty special – I think a lot more than people really know. I don't think she'll ever be any cheaper than she was tonight.”

Lukas and Horton were nearly shut out when the filly reached $1.2 million, but Horton, advising Lukas over the phone, managed to keep the bidding alive as the hammer fell dangerously close to the gavel.

“I was pretty surprised at Willis,” Lukas said. “We kind of set to going pretty high, and then I said, ‘Well, I don’t think she’ll ever be cheaper in her life.’ He said, ‘Let’s take a run at her.’ He’s game. He’s wonderful for the game.”

Bred in Kentucky by the Charming Syndicate, the sale-topping filly was consigned by Reiley McDonald’s Eaton Sales, as agent.

“I think she’s the best filly in the sale,” McDonald said. “She’s got the sire, her mother’s from a great family, and her dam’s second foal is a 2-year-old and was second in the Schuylerville, and won her first start wire to wire at Churchill. This filly’s got all the ingredients – the pedigree, the looks. She’s only a May foal, but looks like she’s a January foal.”

Charming, the first foal by multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady, was a $3.2 million purchase as a Keeneland September yearling in 2006. Following the rise of Will Take Charge and Take Charge Indy in recent years, Take Charge Lady has returned to make headlines in the auction ring. The Dehere mare was the dam of the most expensive filly sold at Keeneland September last year, a filly from the final crop of Indian Charlie who sold for $2.2 million to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm. Take Charge Lady is the dam of a War Front filly cataloged in this year’s Keeneland September sale, which is also consigned by Eaton Sales, as agent.

The auction’s other two seven-figure offerings came during the auction’s first session, and both were daughters of prominent sire Tapit.

Bloodstock agents Alex Solis and Jason Litt went to $1.15 million to secure Monday’s session-topper, a filly out of champion She Be Wild, while Nat Rea’s Regis Farm purchased a filly out of the winning Tiznow mare Rote for $1 million.

Tuesday’s session closed with 50 horses selling for a combined $15,017,000, down 7 percent compared with last year’s second night of selling, when 58 yearlings brought $16,200,000. The average sale price on day two rose 8 percent, from $279,310 to $300,340, while the median price fell 5 percent, from $250,000 to $237,500. The buyback rate finished at 29 percent during Tuesday’s session, up from 17 percent during last year’s finale.

Next on the docket will be the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, held over two sessions this weekend at the Humphrey S. Finney sale pavilion. The sessions will run Aug. 9 (hips 201-358) and Aug. 10 (hips 359-516), both beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern. The sale will be streamed live at DRF Breeding.

For hip-by-hip results of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, click here.

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale, final results:

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2014 114 (+6%) $33,284,000 (+4%) $291,965 (-1%) $237,500 (-5%) 19%
2013 108 $31,870,000 $295,093 $250,000 21%