08/09/2016 10:18PM

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga: Figures show moderate declines overall

Barbara D. Livingston
A Medaglia d'Oro filly sold for $1.45 million to Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm to lead the way at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- A steadier marketplace on Tuesday produced positive momentum compared to the previous day’s session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, but overall figures still saw moderate year-to-year declines, as the boutique auction concluded with a $1.45-million Medaglia d’Oro filly leading the way.

According to numbers reported by the sale company shortly after the close of business on Tuesday, the two-day auction saw 156 yearlings change hands for $45,570,000, down 3 percent from last year’s renewal when 145 horses grossed $46,755,000.

The average sale price dipped 9 percent from $322,448 to $292,115, while the median declined 5 percent from $250,000 to $237,500.

“I thought it was a very solid horse sale tonight,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “Tonight felt really good. From start to finish tonight, it seemed like there was increased competition. I think it’s indicative of the strength and depth of the buying group at Saratoga.

“There’s lots of folks who traditionally come to Saratoga to buy a yearling or two or three, and clearly there was not any one or two groups that dominated the buying bench,” he continued. “It was a very diverse group of buyers throughout both nights.”

The buyback rate finished at 23 percent, which is a respectable number for the boutique sale, despite being up from the low 2015 figure of 15 percent.

“The market’s rational,” Browning said. “There’s plenty of buyer interest, but as a seller, you’d better not be greedy. If you’re hoping for $300,000, you’d better set your reserve at $199,000, take your $200,000, and if you get a break you might get $250,000 or $300,000, and you might get a little more beyond that if they’re really on your horse.

“I think sellers have gotten realistic,” he continued. “I think we deal with it particularly at a sale like Saratoga. You deal with professional owners and professional agents, and they understand and assess the market very well. There aren’t very many amateurs presenting in a sale of this nature, and I think it’s reflective in the results.”

A bidding duel broke out for the sale-topper, and the two combatants were seated in the same row.

Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm, locked horns with Spendthrift Farm owner B. Wayne Hughes, with Pope landing the final blow at $1.45 million. The prize was a Medaglia d'Oro filly out of the stakes-winning Thunder Gulch mare Whisper to Me, whose three winners from four foals to race include Grade 2 winner Overheard.

"She was the standout horse of the sale,” Pope said. “She stands over a lot of ground, she's got good conformation. As often as she was shown, she always had a fluid walk. She always had her ears up, you could always go up and pet her, and she never pinned her ears. She always had so much class, an unbelievable amount of class. We're hoping we're going to have another of those really special fillies.”

Pope said the filly would be sent to her farm in Ocala, Fla., to be broken over the fall and winter, then would go to GoldMark Farm, also in Ocala, to continue her early race training.

A product of Josephine Abercrombie's Pin Oak Stud breeding program, the filly's notable family members include champions Winning Colors, Chris Evert, and Chief’s Crown, Grade/Group 1 winners Classic Crown, Tap Dance City, and Confessional, and Group 3 winner Antipodas.

Craig and Holly Bandoroff’s Denali Stud consigned the sale topper, as agent.

"I've been doing this for 25 years, and I've never shown a horse as many times as she showed,” Craig Bandoroff said. “She had about 280 shows. It was unbelievable. I kept teasing that I've cut off scoping before, but I've never cut off showing.

“I always tell people, especially up here, they've got to want to do it,” he continued. “A horse has to come up here and a girl's got to act like a woman and a man's got to act like a man. She was a queen from the first time I ever saw her.” 

The auction was another dominant showing for leading sire Tapit, who accounted for four of the top seven prices, including the most expensive colt and second-highest priced overall yearling, a $1.25-million brother to Grade 2-placed Royal Obsession who went to the partnership of Stonestreet Stables and Coolmore. That duo also teamed up to buy Monday’s session leader, a $950,000 Pioneerof the Nile colt who finished as the sale’s third most-expensive horse. Stonestreet purchased Royal Obsession last fall and campaigns the filly.

Tapit, who stands at Gainesway in Lexington, Ky., had nine yearlings sell for a combined $6,425,000 and an average price of $713,889.

Tuesday’s session proved the stronger of the two in 2016, but still trailed last year’s closing day, with 83 yearlings selling for revenues of $24,335,000. That marked a 3 decrease from last year’s second-session gross of $25,010,000 from 75 sold.

The average sale price fell 12 percent from $333,467 to $293,434, while the median declined 15 percent from $275,000 to $235,000. However, the buyback rate improved significantly from day to day, falling to 16 percent on Tuesday after finishing at 30 percent on Monday. Last year’s second session buyback rate was 13 percent.

To view hip-by-hip results, click here.

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, cumulative results

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2016 156 (+8%) $45,570,000 (-3%) $292,115 (-9%) $237,500 (-5%) 23%
2015 145 $46,755,000 $322,448 $250,000 18%