08/12/2004 11:00PM

Yearling sale more selective this year

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - After a decline in last year's sale of New York-breds at Saratoga, Fasig-Tipton scaled back slightly in the number of yearlings and was more selective in the process of picking horses for its two-day sale that begins Sunday.

"We probably grew a little bit too quickly in the size of the catalog from 2002 to 2003," said Boyd T. Browning Jr., Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We probably increased almost 25 percent in the number of horses."

Browning said that the additional horses, coupled with a delay in legalization of video lottery terminals - "probably in our minds the slots would have been in play for the 2003 sales" - were two factors that "took a little starch out of the market last year."

"We probably had a few too many horses in what we thought would be an expanding marketplace, but what turned out in reality to be the same size marketplace," he said.

"This year we tried to tighten it down a bit, reduce the number of the horses, and hopefully eliminated the weaker type of horses that didn't belong last year. I think we have a good group of horses."

The size of this year's catalog is 197, compared with 220 in 2003.

The New York-bred sale, once a one-day event, was expanded to two days in 2002, reflecting the rising number of foals born in the Empire State in the last several years.

Last year's average price at Fasig-Tipton's two-day New York-bred yearling sale plummeted 16 percent from 2002. The 2003 average price was $41,567, down from $49,495 in 2002. The median price fell from $35,000 to $32,000. The buy-back rate rose from 33 percent to 37 percent.

At the two sessions combined last year, 127 horses sold for a total of $5,279,000, down 1 percent from 2002, when 108 horses fell under the hammer for $5,345,500.

Last year, 40 more horses were consigned to the sale than had been in 2002.

This year's sale will feature the first crop of yearlings from the fleet-footed sprinter City Zip. More than 15 sons and daughters of City Zip, a Grade 1 winner who stands at Contemporary in Coxsackie, are part of the sale.

Freud, who stands at Lakland North in Hudson, also will be represented by his first group of yearlings. Other New York sires with first-crop yearlings are Nunzio and Radio Star.

Among the country's top sires with yearlings in the sale are Elusive Quality, Grand Slam, Langfuhr, Carson City, Smoke Glacken, Distorted Humor, and Tale of the Cat.

Some of the more popular New York-breds sold at the Fasig-Tipton sale in recent years include Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide; Grade 1 winner Buy the Sport; and Quantum Merit, the leader of this year's New York-bred male turf division.

Both the Sunday and Monday sessions begin at 7 p.m.

First winners for Intidab, Millions

New York stallions Intidab and Millions were recently represented by their first winner.

Intidab's son Greater Good won a maiden race at Ellis Park on Aug. 7. Intidab, who is owned by Shadwell Farm, stood his second New York season this year at Gallagher's Stud in Ghent. His 2004 fee was $3,500.

A son of Phone Trick out of a Mr. Prospector mare, Intidab was a multiple-stakes-winning sprinter.

Millions, who stands at Joe and Anne McMahon's McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, had his first winner Aug. 7 at Finger Lakes. Millions's New York-bred You Willgo Broke won his first start by two lengths. Millions, a graded-stakes-winning son of Dehere, stood for $3,000 this year as part of a syndicate.