Positive Signs for Fasig-Tipton Saratoga

Positive Signs for Fasig-Tipton Saratoga
Photo: Fasig-Tipton Photo
Fasig-Tipton Saratoga

The Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I) Aug. 3 at Saratoga Race Course not only showcased a new racing star in Cross Traffic  , the victory should prove popular across the street at Fasig-Tipton which is preparing to host the Saratoga sale of selected yearlings.

While the sale already boasts a long list of impressive stakes winners, Cross Traffic's eye-catching Whitney provided a timely reminder of the types of horses who will be available in this year's 152-horse catalog. Current owner GoldMark Farm landed Cross Traffic, by Unbridled's Song, for $300,000 at the 2010 sale, and this year's edition will offer a half brother to Cross Traffic, a Medaglia d'Oro   colt consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency.

The Whitney and the pleasant 70-degree temperatures were hot conversation topics as potential buyers kept consignors busy in the days leading up to the sale scheduled for 7 p.m. on Aug. 5 and 6. The Whitney and terrific weather seemingly provided an extra push for a sale that already is following a strong 2-year-old sales season and Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's July yearling sale.

"We've had a lot of people looking at horses," said an energized Kerry Cauthen of Four Star Sales which finished as second-leading consignor at last year's sale. "As for the weather, I cannot remember better weather for showing horses than what we've had here."

Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning also was seeing that enthusiasm as he bounced from barn to barn. He saw similar energy in the days leading up to the July sale, where average improved 10.4% and median spiked 20%. Browning believes the smaller foal crops have increased demand and this year's Saratoga Selected yearling sale will deliver.

"The ultimate measure of a sale is racetrack performance, and the Saratoga Sale is the No. 1-ranked yearling sale in North America by percentage of grade I winners," Browning said. "Graded stakes-winning graduates like recent Acorn Stakes (gr. I) winner Midnight Lucky, Union Rags  , Plum Pretty, Freedom Child  , and Black Onyx continue the nearly century-long tradition of top-class runners offered at the Saratoga sale."

Browning is confident this year's sale will again deliver that quality when buyers and sellers gather. "This year's Saratoga catalog once again boasts tremendous quality," he said. "Buyers will find a group of yearlings with worldwide sire power, depth of pedigree, as well as the excellent physical conformation traditionally found at Saratoga."

Last year's Saratoga sale saw its average decline 11.6% to $282,203 and its median slip 20% to $200,000, going against industry trends that saw yearling sales at 2012 North American public auctions enjoy a 33.3% increase in median and 11.9% increase in average price. The Saratoga sale did notch a 1.2% increase in gross to $33,300,000.

Mark Taylor of Taylor Made, which finished as the leading consignor at last year's Saratoga sale with 18 yearlings selling for $4.57 million, thinks that top buyers are ready to compete for Thoroughbreds.

"I think all of the indicators are giving some optimism right now. The 2-year-old sales have been up, and I think the (Fasig-Tipton Kentucky) July sale had a healthier feel to it than it has in several years," Taylor said. "You kind of got a vibe there that people wanted to buy horses. It wasn't always blockbuster prices, but they were fair prices.

"I think that what Saratoga always has going for it is that it's a small number of horses handpicked for good conformation, and they have enough pedigree to appeal to the mid-level buyers and the upper-level buyers," Taylor said. "All those ingredients tend to add up to a good sale."

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