08/11/2015 10:49PM

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga: Elite auction posts improved figures

Barbara D. Livingston
A colt by reigning leading sire Tapit sold for $2 million to El Capi Racing during the opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale and finished as the elite-level auction's top overall price.

The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale closed Tuesday evening with consistent improvement over last year’s renewal and another affirmation of Tapit’s status as North America’s top commercial sire.

The two-day sale finished with 145 horses sold for revenues of $46,755,000, up 40 percent from last year, when 114 yearlings brought $33,284,000. It was the sale’s highest gross since 2009, when 160 yearlings sold for a combined $52,594,500.

The average sale price rose 10 percent from $291,965 to $322,448, its best result since 2009, when the average finished at $328,434. The median improved 5 percent from $237,500 to $250,000, returning to the level it reached in 2013.

“I’m very rarely speechless following a sale, and I’m almost speechless,” said Faisg-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “It was a tremendous horse sale overall. Tonight was electric again, an extremely consistent group of horses on the sales grounds. Frankly, I think the quality of horses we had on offer this year were reflective of increased confidence that owners had in bringing quality horses to Saratoga, and I think they were rewarded again in 2015.”

The buyback rate closed at 15 percent, an outstanding figure for a boutique sale, after finishing at 19 percent in 2014.

“The buyback rate was terrific, because it shows the depth of buyers and a really good cross-section of horses,” Browning said. “There’s some really, really good people selling horses; the agents and consignors on these sales grounds. They understand valuation, they interpret the information based on the activity around the barns, the looks, the re-looks, the veterinary activity, and they try to advise their clients in a professional and first-class manner, which helps adjust expectations to allow horses to be sold fairly.”

Three horses sold for seven figures during the 2015 sale, tying last year’s renewal. However, the 24 horses to change hands for $500,000 or more outperformed the 17 to meet or exceed that price last year.

Leading the session was a Tapit colt out of the Grade 3-winning Galileo mare Dress Rehearsal, sold to El Capi Racing for $2 million.

Bred in Ireland by Ben Sangster, the colt is a full brother to Christophermarlowe, who is the dam’s first runner. The latter won his first three career starts before finishing third in the Lingfield Derby Trial. Continuing the international scope of the line, he is now in training in Hong Kong.

His extended family includes Group 2 winner Muthmir, and Group 3 winners My Titania and Majestic Queen.

"We liked the father, the mother, everything," said Jose Uzcatdui of El Capi. "The pedigree, the conformation, he looks just like Galileo. We're going to race him and see how he goes."

El Capi Racing is a group of five Venezuelan-born partners based in Miami, Fla., who have campaigned a handful of runners around that state.

"They made more noise than the rest of the crowd when they won [the bidding war on the sale-topper],” said Kerry Cauthen of consignor Four Star Sales, agent. “You love to see somebody that enthusiastic end up with the horse. They're not new to the business, but this is a step up in their level, it looks like. I think they've got a fantastic horse.”

The colt was the highest-priced yearling to change hands at the Saratoga sale since 2009, when a Storm Cat colt out of the placed Mr. Prospector mare Onaga sold to John Ferguson, bloodstock adviser for Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, for $2.8 million. Later named On a Storm, the colt never raced.

“I thought he deserved to be a seven-figure horse, and beyond that, I'm blown over,” Cauthen said. “Ben Sangster is as good an owner and as good a guy as there is in the business. He deserves it and I'm very thrilled with him.

“That was as good a horse as I've ever brought to a sale,” Cauthen continued. “He just never turned a hair. You hear all the time, but he was 150 percent class. He did it all. I just happened to be the lucky guy to sell him.”

The sale topper led a highly-coveted group of yearlings by North American leading sire Tapit, with four among the auction’s top six prices. The stallion, who stands at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky., also accounted for the sale’s most expensive RNA, with a colt finishing under his reserve with a final bid of $950,000.

Tuesday’s final session proved to be more active than Monday’s opening session, selling 75 horses for $25,010,000, up 67 percent from last year’s closing-night gross of $15,017,000 from 50 horses sold. The second-day average jumped 11 percent from $300,340 to $333,467, while the median rose 16 percent from $237,500 to $275,000. The buyback rate finished at 13 percent, much improved from last year’s closing-day figure of 29 percent.

A colt by late sire Street Cry topped Tuesday’s session and finished as the sale’s second-most expensive offering, selling for $1.4 million to Ferguson, acting for Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation. Street Cry was campaigned by Sheikh Mohammed on the racetrack, and stood for Darley until his death in September 2014.

Ferguson said the new purchase would head to Europe for his eventual racing career.

"He's a very athletic horse," Ferguson said. "His brother was a good horse. He's by a sire who's no longer with us, but has bred many champions, so it made sense. ... The horses [at this sale] have been making good prices, but they deserve to. It's very hard to breed a horse to be as good-looking as the horses here, and breeders deserve to get paid for them."

The colt, who was consigned by Paramount Sales, as agent, is out of the young A.P. Indy mare Rcuandry, a winner whose only starter to date is placed. Rcuandry is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Honey Ryder; to Grade 3 winner Cuando Puede, dam of Grade 3 winner Hit it Rich and stakes winner Spanish Mission; to stakes winner Cuando, dam of Grade 2 winner Dominus; and to Grade 3-placed Cuanto Es.

For complete results of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, click here.

- Additional reporting by Nicole Russo

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale figures

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2015 145 (+27%) $46,755,000 (+40%) $322,448 (+10%) $250,000 (+5%) 15%
2014 114 $33,284,000 $291,965 $237,500 19%