Updated on 09/17/2011 12:08PM

Jewel Princess filly at $1.1 million tops opener


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga select yearling sale got off to a positive, but not flashy, start Tuesday night when a $1.1 million daughter of champion Jewel Princess led 65 yearlings under the hammer at the Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion.

The session-topper, bought by Eugene Melnyk, was among the first few horses in the ring. A daughter of Storm Cat, the filly sold as Hip No. 13 from the Lane's End agency. She is the fourth foal out of 1996 champion older mare Jewel Princess, whose three other Storm Cat foals so far have yielded only one placed runner. That is a colt named One Nice Cat, who placed last year in Ireland.

Veterinarian Robert McMartin, bidding on behalf of Melnyk, signed the ticket. The filly was the only seven-figure lot of the night.

Held in a steady rain, the first of three sessions sold 54 of 65 yearlings offered for a total of $16,547,000, up 49 percent from the 2002 opener's $11,112,000 gross for 46 yearlings. Average price also leaped by 27 percent, from $241,565 last year to $306,426. Median rose as well, improving 28 percent from $195,000 last year to $250,000. The figures appeared dramatic, but followed last year's equally sharp slides as the top of the select yearling market corrected from the inflated prices seen in 200 and 2001.

In another positive note, buybacks also declined, falling from last year's 32 percent to just 17 percent.

The night's second-highest price and top colt was a $750,000 Unbridled's Song colt out of La Gueriere that the Dromoland/Hartwell agency sold to B.T.A. Stable. The colt is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Lasting Approval and is from the family of Grade 1 winner Al Mamoon. Dromoland/Hartwell purchased the colt as a weanling at Keeneland last November for $380,000.

The sale continues through Thursday night with sessions beginning each evening at 7:30.