08/07/2017 9:39PM

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga: Million-dollar Curlin colt leads gains in opener

Barbara D. Livingston
A Curlin colt sold for $1 million to lead Monday night's opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale.

The opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale continued to display the strength of the market’s upper echelon, posting healthy gains spearheaded by a $1-million Curlin colt.

Monday’s trade closed with 75 horses sold for revenues of $24,425,000 according to figures that were posted by Fasig-Tipton shortly after the close of business, up 15 percent from last year’s first session when 73 horses changed hands for $21,215,000.

The average sale price rose 12 percent compared with last year’s comparable session, to $325,667 from $290,616, while the median saw a 25 percent gain to $300,000 from $240,000. The buyback rate sat at an excellent 18 percent, compared with 30 percent at the same point last year.

“We really saw across-the-board strong competition for most all the lots,” Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said. “We’re very encouraged by the RNA rate, which is pretty spectacular in a select marketplace of this nature, and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that a lot of those horses will get sold [as private sales] tomorrow.”

At the top of the market, Monday’s session produced more seven-figure horses than last year’s opening session by a one-to-nothing margin. The four horses sold for $750,000 or more bettered the three sold at that price point last year, while horses sold for $500,000 or more also rose, to 14 from 11.

“We felt good coming into the sale, we felt good on the farms this year,” Browning said. “There was a lot of interest and enthusiasm on the sales grounds leading into the sale tonight, and that was reflected in the bidding activity that took place.”

Eric Fein, best known for co-owning runners such as Musket Man, Big Truck, and Syndergaard, landed the $1 million Curlin colt who led the session.

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."

The day’s second-highest price came immediately before the session-topper, when Mike Repole and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners bought a Medaglia d’Oro colt for $900,000.

The bay colt is out of the Grade 1-winning Concerto mare Rigoletta, making him a half-brother to Grade 3-winner and Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Battle of Midway. Gainesway consigned the colt, as agent.

The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale concludes Tuesday, with a session beginning at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

For complete sale results, click here.