Sheikh Mohammed, the world's biggest Thoroughbred auction spender, inspected yearlings consigned to the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale the morning of Aug. 10, just hours before the 6 p.m. (EDT) start of New York auction. As a light rain fell, the ruler of Dubai looked at some horses while standing under the cover of the new walking ring. He previously had visited the Fasig-Tipton sale grounds early in the evening on Aug. 9.
“That’s positive,” said consignor Marshall Silverman of the Dubai ruler’s presence. “I heard through the grapevine that he was going to really try and help things. (Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager) John Ferguson probably will be a little bit stronger (bidding) on horses than if he (Sheikh Mohammed) weren’t here.”
Synergy Investments, headed by Abdulla Al Habbai, an associate of Sheikh Mohammed, purchased Fasig-Tipton last year. Since then the company has become more aggressive in recruiting consignors and buyers, offering to help some shoppers with expenses and starting major renovation and construction projects at its facilities and putting up posh temporary facilities at Calder Race Course, where the Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training is conducted. Fasig-TIpton officials also have upgraded their hospitality efforts, throwing fancy parties and becoming involved in race sponsorship where their sales are held.
“I think it’s great,” said Archie St. George of Sheikh Mohammed’s decision to attend the Saratoga sale. “It creates an extra buzz, and he brings a lot to the table. His presence always seems to generate a better sale. He buys right across the board, from the real big ones to the middle level in the $200,000 to $300,000 range."