Business continued its upswing Wednesday night during the second of three sessions at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga yearling sale, with strong gains in gross receipts and average and a modest gain in the median price.
Highlight of the night was a $2.7 million colt by deceased Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Unbridled out of the Lord at War mare Words of War, a stakes winner who produced Suburban Handicap (gr. II) and Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) winner E Dubai. Satish Sanan of Padua Stables outlasted B. Wayne Hughes and Sheikh Mohammed's agent, John Ferguson, to buy the bay colt bred in partnership by Arthur Hancock III and Stonerside Stable and sold by Hancock's Stone Farm, as agent. It is the same partnership that bred and sold 2000 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Fusaichi Pegasus for $4 million to top the 1998 Keeneland July sale.
Company officials reported 49 horses sold for $17,440,000, an average price of $355,918 and median of $200,000. That represents gains of 48% in gross, 32% in average and 3% in median from the corresponding figures in 2002, when 44 yearlings sold for $11,820,000, with an average of $268,636 and median of $195,000. Buybacks were at 25% on Wednesday night compared with 31% on the same night last year.
Cumulative numbers for 2003 are: 103 sold for $33,987,000, an average price of $329,971 and median of $250,000. The two-night figures are up 48%, 30%, and 28% in the three respective categories. Horses listed as not sold are running at 21%, down sharply from the 32% buy backs on the first two nights of 2002.
If the trend continues in Thursday's final session, Fasig-Tipton would generate approximately $50 million in gross receipts, well above the $35.2 million gross in 2002, but still below the record year in 2001, when the gross climbed to $62.4 million.
Fasig-Tipton officials were pleased but not surprised to see a second consecutive night of double-digit gains in gross and average. "The expectations were pretty well met by the sale today," said D.G. Van Clief Jr., chairman of Fasig-Tipton. "What we have is a better group of horses than we had last year. We said we had better horses than last year and we would have been disappointed being even."
Hancock, who returned to Saratoga in the last few years after a long absence, admitted the sale-topping colt probably would have been pointed to the Keeneland July sale, but opted for Saratoga when Keeneland officials canceled this year's sale because of mare reproductive loss syndrome, which wiped out at least 20% of Kentucky's 2002 foal crop.
Words of War, purchased by Stonerside for $440,000 in 1996 while in foal to Nureyev, has produced over $6 million in yearling sale revenue from five subsequent foals. E Dubai was purchased by Ferguson on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed for $1.35 million. Words of War has a 2003 foal by Kingmambo and is back in foal to the son of Mr. Prospector. E. Dubai was sired by Mr. Prospector, and Unbridled is a grandson of the prolific sire. "I want to stay with the Mr. Prospector family," Hancock said.
"We've had very good luck at this sale," said Satish Sanan after signing the ticket. Sanan purchased his 2002 juvenile champion Vindication at Saratoga two years ago. Sanan did not indicate who would train the Unbridled colt. "It's too early to say now," he said.
An hour and a half into the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale, a half-brother to 2-year-old champion Vindication by A.P. Indy brought a final bid of $1.9 million.
Bred by Virginia Kraft Payson and consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, the nearly black colt out of the Strawberry Road mare Strawberry Reason was originally listed as a buy back. However, he was later purchased by Patrick Biancone, agent. Payson said she would keep a percentage of the colt. Fasig-Tipton revised the sale ticket to show that the colt had been sold.
"We just misjudged it," Taylor Made's Duncan Taylor said. "I thought the horse could bring $2.5 million to $3 million. I guess I'm the only one who thought the market was going to be better than it was." Taylor said the reserve was set at just under $2 million. The last bid not made on behalf of the consignor was believed to be Ferguson at $1.6 million.
Biancone said "three or four" people are involved in the group. They were working out the details as the sale progressed.
Earlier in the evening, a colt by Unbridled's Song brought a final bid of $1.4 million. The buyer was John Oxley, owner of 2002 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, who has been a frequent buyer at the auction over the last few years. The chestnut colt was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency.
Bidding against Oxley and trainer John T. Ward Jr. was trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who remarked to Coolmore associate Demi O'Byrne, "That's the best looking colt I've seen here in a long time," as the colt walked out of the ring.
Bred by Aaron and Marie Jones, the flashy-looking colt is out of the Storm Cat mare Silken Cat, 2-year-old champion in Canada. The yearling is a half-brother to the stakes-placed runner Speightstown, who sold for $2 million at the 1999 Keeneland July yearling sale.
The second dam is stakes winner Silken Doll.