The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, a small boutique auction that offers quality horses, got off to what the company's chairman, D.G. Van Clief Jr., termed "a solid start " Aug. 4 in New York. The average and median prices both increased from 2007, and even though the buy-back rate also rose, from 21.6% last year to 29.4% this year, the level it reached wasn’t alarming.
“I thought going in this segment of the market would perform pretty well; the upper range in Kentucky (at the Fasig-Tipton July select auction) performed pretty well last month,” said Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson. “There weren’t a lot of surprises, and it wasn’t necessarily easy. The buy-backs were up from last year, but were still manageable at under 30%.”
The 60 horses sold grossed $18,160,000 and averaged $302,667. The median was $235,000. Compared to 2007’s opening session, the number sold fell 21.1% from 76 while the gross dropped 8.6% from $19,867,000. The average increased 15.8% from $261,408, and the median advanced 13.3% from $207,500.
A robust Storm Catfilly brought the session’s top price of $1.5 million from Team Valor International’s Barry Irwin, who outlasted Kentucky horseman Olin Gentry. Consigned by John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent, the bay yearling was bred in Kentucky by Strategy Bloodstock.
“She’s got the most awesome body; she’s just so athletic looking,” said Irwin, who purchased last year’s Saratoga sale topper, a $2.2-million Mr. Greeley colt named Kinsella. “Her front legs are good; she’s got everything you want. She has a great neck, and she’s just incredible looking. To be truthful with you, I thought I had no shot to get her, so there is no plan for her; I don’t have one yet. I really only wanted to go to a $1.2 million or $1.3 million, but the way I look at it, where are you going to find another horse like this? I wish the timing had been different because if I had already bought this one, I might not have bought a couple of other horses earlier. I’m kind of stretching my bankroll here, but I just couldn’t resist it.”
The filly is a full sister to 2004 Irish group III winner Cherokee and another Irish stakes winner, Art Museum. She is a half-sister to 1998 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) winner Lil’s Lad (by Pine Bluff). Their dam, the 19-year-old Vanlandingham mare Totemic, captured the Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) and Magnolia Stakes at Oaklawn Park in 1992.
Will Farish of Lane’s End Farm purchased the session’s most expensive colt, a $1.2-million son of A.P. Indynamed Pyramid Indy. The sire of the strapping bay colt stands at Lane’s End in Kentucky, and Farish, in partnership with Steve Mooney, raced a half-sister to the yearling, Pyramid Love (by Fusaichi Pegasus ), who was a winner and finished second in the 2007 Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland.
Pyramid Indy “is a lovely individual,” Farish said, “and one of the nicest A.P.s I’ve seen at auction in a long time, with an outstanding female side that I’ve been very interested in – it’s a Wildenstein family – for years. I expected him to bring more.”
Bred in Kentucky by Dream With Me Stables, Pyramid Indy was consigned by Hunter Valley Farm, agent. The colt is out of the 11-year-old unraced Broad Brush mare Pyramid Lake. In addition to Pyramid Love, Pyramid Indy’s siblings include Pyrana (by Anabaa), who was a winner and finished third in the 2005 Prix Rose de Mai in France and the 2006 editions of the Locust Grove Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs and the Rumpipumpy Stakes at Saratoga.
Hunter Valley, as agent, also consigned Pyramid Indy to the 2007 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, but bought the colt back for $500,000.
“He was just big, raw, backward colt, and that’s why we reserved him so high,” said Fergus Galvin of Hunter Valley. “We were of two minds whether to bring him to the sale in the first place, but we figured if we did, we were going to really protect him because we knew he would grow into the individual that he did. He’s just been a special horse from day one, a very, very classy horse.”
Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager, John Ferguson, was the session’s biggest spender, paying $3.1 million for five yearlings, including a $900,000 Distorted Humor – Stupedous Miss colt that was consigned by Denali Stud, agent. Team Valor ranked second, spending $2,120,000 for three head.
Third was Legends Racing, which paid $1,205,000 for three horses. The venture, known officially as the Thoroughbred Legends Racing Fund, was started earlier this year. It is the brainchild of Gentry and Thomas Gaines of Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds and investment banker Tripp Hardy. Plans for the venture were announced in early June and included the intent to raise $75 million to $125 million by late August to buy young horses that would be selected with the help of and trained by Bob Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas, and Nick Zito.