08/10/2015 10:45PM

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga: Seven-figure Tapit duo leads opening session

Barbara D. Livingston
A colt by reigning leading sire Tapit sold for $2 million during Monday night's opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale.

Leading sire Tapit accounted for the top three prices of Monday’s opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale, driving gains in gross and average compared with last year’s first evening.

A total of 70 yearlings changed hands on Monday for revenues of $21,745,000, up 19 percent from $18,267,000 during last year’s opening night of selling. The average sale price rose 9 percent from $285,422 to $310,643, while the median fell 3 percent from $232,500 to $225,000.

“It was kind of what we all expected, to continue the positive momentum,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “I think you could feel it tonight, there was lots of energy on the sale grounds. I’m very, very pleased with the opening night.”

The buyback rate finished at 18 percent, following last year’s pristine 10 percent, which was something of an aberration for a boutique sale. However, Browning said the sub-20-percent buyback rate displayed the maturity of the overall marketplace in setting its expectations.

“The one thing that we’ve seen over the last seven or eight years is an increase in professionalism, because the reality is the amateurs don’t survive when you undergo a shakeout or downturn,” Browning said. “We’ve seen now the consignors, the owners, the breeders, and the buyers that are involved in the game have a high level of expertise and understand the marketplace, and participate very intelligently on both the buying side and the selling side.”

Two horses hammered for seven figures on Monday, tying the number to do so during last year’s opening session. However, the 12 yearlings to bring $500,000 or more easily surpassed the eight to meet or surpass that mark at the sale’s halfway point in 2014.

Both seven-figure horses were by Tapit, North America’s leading sire in 2014 and a commercial powerhouse in the auction ring. The sire achieved the same feat on the opening night of last year’s Saratoga sale.

Leading the session was a colt out of the Grade 3-winning Galileo mare Dress Rehearsal, who 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.

While Cauthen said he didn’t have a specific number in his head when the horse was brought into the back ring, the popularity of the previous session-topper, a $1.2-million Tapit colt, helped set his general expectations.

“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.”

Earlier in the sale, the partnership of Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Robert LaPenta went to $1.2 million to secure a son of Tapit out of the Grade 1-winning Successful Appeal mare Appealing Zophie.

Bred in Kentucky by My Meadowview, the colt is a sibling to two winners from three foals to race, and comes from the family of Venezuelan Horse of the Year My Own Business, Grade 1 winner Croeso, Super May, Grade 2 winner Diamond on the Run, and Grade 3 winners Ide, Buddy’s Humor, and Miss Lodi. He was consigned by Denali Stud, as agent.

“He had everything we're looking for,” said George Isaacs, general manager of Bridlewood Farm, who said the other partners in the purchase send horses to the Ocala, Fla., farm to break and train. “He looks fast. He's certainly by the number one stallion in North America, out of a great mare that could really run. He looks precocious. He obviously has plenty of pedigree.”

Rounding out the trio of high-priced Tapit colts was one out of the unplaced Storm Cat mare Carriage Trade who sold to Ferguson for the Darley program for $750,000. The colt was bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock.

The second and final session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale will take place Tuesday evening, beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern.

For complete results of the session, click here.

- Additional reporting by Nicole Russo

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale, opening session

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2015 70 (+9%) $21,745,000 (+19%) $310,643 (+9%) $225,000 (-3%) 18%
2014 64 $18,267,000 $285,422 $232,500 10%