In what could be an indicator of the strength of the market for New York-breds, a first-time buyer at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale made his first dive a deep one by purchasing the session-topper for $250,000.
French bloodstock agent Hubert A. Guy, who has offices in California and shops at both domestic and international sales, bought a Tizway filly out of the Crafty Friend mare Free as Tristan Aug. 9, first day of the two-day auction. Consigned by Marshall W. Silverman, agent, the filly is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Amberjack (by Indygo Shiner) and multiple graded stakes-placed Associate (by Wando).
"She was the best filly today," Guy said. "Beautiful walk. Really nice ankles on her; very clean. I knew she was going to be expensive."
Guy said he purchased the filly for himself and a couple of partners, possibly to pinhook.
The number of horses sold was 92, down three from last year, but the average of $75,370 represents an 11% increase over the first night of the 2013 sale. The median price of $60,000 was up 9% from last year.
The gross of $6,934,000 was up from $6,427,500 for the first night of the 2013 sale.
The 52 horses that failed to meet their reserves in a catalog that is 5% bigger than that of last year represented 36% of the horses that went through the ring, up from 29% last year.
"The buy-back rate crept higher tonight than this same night last year, which might be a little bit due to consignors having some alternatives with their horses in terms of their ability to race them themselves," said Boyd Browning, president and chief executive officer of Fasig-Tipton. "It's probably a little bit more of a breeder-oriented group here in New York."
He cautioned, though, against drawing too many conclusions after only one session.
"I'd say that (the top sale price of $250,000) is in significant jeopardy (Sunday) night," Browning said. "I think there are some horses that have a realistic shot of bringing that level or more.
"It was a fair and legitimate marketplace. Buyers had a difficult time buying the lots they wanted. The quality of horses has gone up in New York, and the bidding was competitive, especially for the higher-quality offerings."
Trainer Nick Zito was also active, signing three tickets for a total of $390,000. His purchases included an Ice Box colt out of the Ghostzapper mare Fear This that brought the session's second-highest price of $230,000. Zito trained Ice Box to a win in the 2010 Florida Derby and a runner-up finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (both gr. I).
David Greenhouse of Blue Bison Stable said he was standing with consignor Winter Quarter Farm earlier in the day when Sioux, the half-brother to a Tale of the Cat colt out of Andraste (Pulpit), won an allowance race across the street at Saratoga Race Course by 5 1/4 lengths.
"It definitely made his price go higher," said Greenhouse, who paid $225,000 for the colt, the third-highest price of the first night.
The Aug. 10 session in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., begins at 7 p.m. EDT.