Updated on 08/11/2011 10:49AM

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga: Sheikh Mohammed opens wallet again; sale figures soar

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Spending by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and yearlings by third-crop sire Bernardini dominated the second session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale on Tuesday night, propelling the two-day sale’s gross, average, and median to increases over last year’s comparable figures.

The figures boosted the spirits of both Fasig-Tipton officials and consignors, many of whom had weathered a difficult week leading up to the sale as world financial markets reeled from the lingering European debt crisis and new fears about the U.S. stock market. But those fears dissipated over the course of the two night-time sessions as it became clear that Sheikh Mohammed intended to spend heavily to support both Bernardini – a horse he bred, raced, and stands at his Darley Stud in Kentucky – and Fasig-Tipton, which was bought by a close associate of his three years ago.

In total, Sheikh Mohammed purchased 13 horses, including six yearlings by Bernardini, for $8.53 million over the two night-time sessions, accounting for more than a quarter of the sale’s $32.9 million in gross proceeds. He bought both of the co-highest-priced horses, a $1.2 million colt by Bernardini and a $1.2 million colt by Medaglia d’Oro, and also bought a colt by another stallion he stands, Street Cry, for $625,000.

In addition to the six Bernardini yearlings bought by Sheikh Mohammed, seven other yearlings by Bernardini sold over the two sessions, for total receipts of $7.075 million and an average of $544,000, making him the leading sire at the sale.

In total for the two-day sale, 103 horses sold from an initial catalog of 160 horses, a sharp reduction from the 202 horses that were cataloged over two days last year. Twenty-nine yearlings did not meet the reserve set by their consignors, for a buyback rate of 22 percent, a strong figure for a boutique sale and a reflection of sellers’ willingness to part ways with stock during the midst of economic uncertainty and a stubbornly depressed bloodstock market. Last year’s buyback rate was 28 percent.

Average for the two-day sale was $319,340, an increase of 15.9 percent over the average last year of $275,551. Median rose from $240,000 last year to $250,000 this year, an increase of 4.2 percent. Median is generally used to assess the strength of the middle market. Even with the reduced catalog, total spending was up 1 percent.

“I would describe it as a damn good horse sale,” said Boyd Browning, the president of Fasig-Tipton, after the sale ended.

On Monday night, the highest-priced horse to sell was a $1.2 million colt by Medaglia d’Oro, purchased by Sheikh Mohammed. Again on Tuesday night, Sheikh Mohammed went to $1.2 million, this time for a Bernardini colt who is out of the Carson City mare Easter Bunnette, making him a half-brother to Havre de Grace, the 4-year-old multiple graded stakes winner who has gained fame over the past year for her rivalry with Blind Luck.

The second-highest-priced horse to sell at Tuesday night’s session was a $775,000 son of Unbridled’s Song who is already named Whippendeal. Out of the Seeking the Gold mare Dream Supreme, a multiple graded stakes winner, the colt was bought by trainer Dale Romans, who said he would put together a syndicate to race the colt.

For the Tuesday night session, Fasig-Tipton sold 54 horses for gross proceeds of $16,737,000. The average was $309,944, a 4.7 percent increase over the average for last year’s Tuesday session, while median was $225,000, 10 percent lower than the $250,000 median for last year’s Tuesday session. Buyback rate for the Tuesday session was 19 percent, compared to a buyback rate of 28 percent last year.

“It starts with quality horses, and we had quality horses offered to us in 2011,” said Browning.

“Inevitably the buyers respond when you put a quality product in front of them.”

VIDEO: Day 1 wrap-up by Glenye Cain Oakford »