A son of Giant's Causeway consigned by Gainesway Farm was purchased by Team Valor's Barry Irwin for $1,850,000 to top the second session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga August yearling sale Wednesday night.
For the second session in a row of the three-day auction, the gross and average prices declined.
Fasig-Tipton reported 50 horses sold Wednesday for a total of $14,510,000 and an average price of $290,200. The median was $207,500. During the comparable session one year ago, 49 horses grossed $17,440,000 for an average price of $355,918, and a $200,000 median. Fifteen horses, which represented 23% of the total through the ring, did not attain their reserve prices.
With the final session scheduled for Thursday, the sale is trailing last year's auction. So far, 100 yearlings have been sold for $28,735,000, compared with the $33,987,000 gross for 103 horses through the same point last year. The cumulative average price of $287,350 is 12.9% below the $329,971 average for the first two sessions of 2003 and the median of $220,000 is also down 12% from the $250,000 figure.
Although the prices fell for the second day in a row, Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson said the session was better than the first one Tuesday.
"It was much easier to meet seller's expectations tonight (when compared with the Tuesday session)," Robertson said.
Robertson noted that during last year's second session there were three horses that brought final bids in excess of seven figures, compared with one Wednesday. "We had three monster horses last year," he said.
While Fasig-Tipton officials do not make projections about a sale or sale session, company president Walt Robertson said, "We've got nice horses tomorrow night and we'll see how they do."
Irwin outbid Stan Fulton's Fleetwood/ N.W. Management, represented by agent Tim McMurry, for the colt, who also attracted the attention of King World chairman Roger King.
King, who is known for his dramatics at the Saratoga sale, walked in and out of the Humphrey Finney sales pavilion while deciding how far to go to obtain the striking colt consigned by Gainesway Farm.
Irwin said he did not have a limit on how high he would go to acquire the colt, but said he was prepared to go as high as $2 million because participants in his Team Valor partnerships want "a Triple Crown horse and the only shot we've got is to find one in a sale like this."
Although Giant's Causeway excelled as a racehorse on turf, Irwin said he believed the colt has potential as a main track runner. "He's the best looking yearling I have seen in five to 10 years," said Irwin, noting the colt will be sent to trainer Todd Pletcher. "He's an awesome looking horse."
The colt is a half-brother to Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) winner Keats.
The colt was among the most anticipated horses in the sale, with the first bid on the board at $700,000.
"He was a super colt and extremely popular with all the major players," said Michael Hernon of Gainesway. "We were confident he would bring a price approaching that number. He bought himself a hell of a nice horse."
The colt was bred by Dr. Chuck Kidder, Dr. John Griggs, and Jim and Jason Mamakos. The colt was prepared for sale at Chuck Kidder's Corner Woods Farm and his progress was regularly monitored by Brian Graves of Gainesway
Fulton was among the most active bidders early in the second session of the auction, going to $900,000 to acquire a Grand Slam colt and $500,000 for an Unbridled's Song
Consigned by Three Chimneys Sales, agent, the Grand Slam colt is a half-brother to multiple stakes winner Taste the Passion and stakes winner Bisbee's Prospect.
The Unbridled's Song colt, consigned by Four Star Sales, was produced from the Valid Appeal mare Appealing Nany, a full sister to stakes winners Nany's Appeal and Nanerpeal.