08/08/2017 11:41PM

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga: Bustling sale finishes with record median

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Barbara D. Livingston
An Orb colt sold for $1 million during the closing session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale to tie for the highest price at the boutique auction, which posted across-the-board gains.

It’s never a bad time to have an elite yearling at a major auction, but the returns from this year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale proved it’s getting better for the cream of the crop, illustrated by a record median and the second-highest gross and average in the boutique auction’s history.

The two-day auction saw 156 horses sold for revenues of $52,995,000 according to figures reported by the sale company shortly after the close of business, up 16 percent from last year’s Saratoga sale when 156 horses sold for $45,570,000.

The average sale price rose 16 percent to $339,712 from $292,115, while the median rose 26 percent to a record $300,000 from $237,500. The buyback rate finished at 20 percent compared with 23 percent in 2016.

“We had high expectations coming into the sale and we exceeded those expectations,” Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said. “There was remarkable depth in the buying pool between $250,000 and $750,000, just enormous competition. Horses were exceeding their reserves by two, three, four times in many instances, and you’d see it happen consecutively, which I think demonstrates a healthy marketplace.”

While returns were historic for the auction, Browning said the trade still had a level of restraint, even at the highest levels. The two most expensive buybacks of the sale left the ring with final bids of $1 million and $885,000.

“It’s still rational,” he said. “We saw a couple high-priced buybacks tonight. People own expensive and valuable horses, and they don’t always have to sell them. They have the right to set a reserve and value their horses where they believe is appropriate.”

Two horses changed hands for seven figures, tying last year’s renewal of the auction. The number of horses sold for $750,000 or more rose to 10 from eight, while horses sold for $500,000 rose to 30 from 23.

“There were a lot of hugs out back,” Browning said. “That’s pretty cool.”

Each of the auction’s sessions produced one of the co-sale-toppers, who each sold for $1 million.

Tuesday’s session was led by an Orb colt who sold to Kerri Radcliffe Bloodstock on behalf of Phoenix Thoroughbreds.

The chestnut colt is the first foal out of the Grade 3-winning Flashy Bull mare Flashy American. He is from the family of Grade 3 winner I’m Already Sexy.

"This is actually my favorite colt in the sale, so I'm delighted to get him,” Radcliffe said. “The stallion has already come out and is getting results, and he's from a great farm in [consignor and co-breeder] Gainesway.”

Though Phoenix Thoroughbreds is a global operation, Radcliffe said the colt would remain in the U.S. and would likely be trained by Bob Baffert.

Flashy American was a $395,000 purchase by Blue Sky Stable with Tuesday’s sale-topper in utero at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton February winter mixed sale. She was sold later that year, in foal to Tapit, for $950,000.

The session-topping colt was in Kentucky by a partnership including Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd., the farm’s director of public sales Brian Graves, and Kidder-Cole, among others. He sold as a weanling for $310,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale.

“It's a really special moment for me,” Graves said. “We just wish them all the luck in the world. He certainly looks like a graded stakes horse.”

A Curlin colt topped Monday’s session, selling to Eric Fein, who is best known for co-owning runners such as Musket Man, Big Truck, and Syndergaard.

The chestnut colt is out of the Grade 1-winning Devon Lane mare River’s Prayer, who is the dam of three winners from four foals to race. He was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, which bought River’s Prayer as a broodmare prospect for $1.5 million at the 2007 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Ecuadorian champion Silver Gal is in the extended family, as is Grade 3-placed stakes winner Never Round.

"We liked everything about him,” said Ian Brennan, the head trainer at Stonestreet Training and Rehabilitation Center, who signed the ticket as agent for Fein. “He was a beauty when we saw him. We've had a couple out of the mare, and the mare's really nice. He's for a good client, and we're just really happy to get him.”

Brennan said the colt would be sent to the Stonestreet Training Center in Summerfield, Fla., to begin his training. While a decision on who would train the colt on the racetrack is still some time away, Brennan said Fein usually employs Todd Pletcher.

Denali Stud consigned the colt as agent for Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet operation. It is the third straight year that the consignment has handled a seven-figure horse at the Saratoga sale,  led off by the $1.2-million eventual Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit in 2015, followed by $1.45-million Whisper to Mama atop the sale last year.

"He showed over 200 times,” Craig Bandoroff of Denali Stud said of buyer interest in the colt. “They wore him out, but those kind have got to come here fit. They've got to be able to stand the pressure, and he did. Every day, he just got into it more and more. Once he knew what his job was, he did his job."

Tuesday’s closing session saw 81 horses sold for $28,570,000, up 17 percent from last year’s second day of trade when 83 horses brought $24,355,000. The average sale price rose 20 percent to $352,716 from $293,434, the median grew 28 percent to $300,000 from $235,000, and the buyback rate finished at 21 percent, compared with 16 percent last year.

For complete sale results, click here.

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga, final results

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2017 156 $52,995,000 (+16%) $339,712 (+16%) $300,000 (+26%) 20%
2016 156 $45,570,000 $292,115 $237,500 23%

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga, top 10 purchases

Price Pedigree Buyer Consignor
$1,000,000 Colt by Curlin - River's Prayer, by Devon Lane Eric Fein Denali Stud, agent for Stonestreet Farm
$1,000,000 Colt by Orb - Flashy American, by Flashy Bull Keri Radcliffe Bloodstock Gainesway, agent
$995,000 Colt by War Front - Lerici, by Woodman Godolphin Gainesway, agent
$900,000 Colt by Medaglia d'Oro - Rigoletta, by Concerto Mike Repole and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners Gainesway, agent
$850,000 Colt by Into Mischief - Victorious Ami, by Victory Gallop Lael Stable Warrendale Sales, agent for Tall Oaks
$825,000 Filly by Strong Mandate - Graeme Six, by Graeme Hall Live Oak Plantation Baccari Bloodstock, agent
$800,000 Colt by Scat Daddy - Auction, by Mr. Greeley Kerri Radcliffe Bloodstock Hunter Valley Farm, agent
$750,000 Filly by Curlin - Purple Cat, by Bluegrass Cat Juddmonte Farms Blake-Albina Thoroughbred Services, agent
$750,000 Colt by Animal Kingdom - Art Teacher, by Master Command OXO Equine Gainesway, agent
$750,000 Filly by Orb - Fashion Cat, by Forest Wildcat Solis/Litt Four Star Sales, agent