By the time breeder Nancy Mazzoni made her way to Barn 4 on Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga sale grounds late Monday night, the $1,150,000 Tapit filly she bred already had drawn a small crowd of awed onlookers at the Bluewater Sales consignment.
They leaned from the gloom into the pool of light from the filly's stall, taking pictures and sharing their delight that this gray—already nearly white—filly out of champion She Be Wildhad just brought the opening session's highest price at the historic Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale on bidding by bloodstock agents Alex Solis and Jason Litt.
As Mazzoni approached the stall, one of the onlookers stepped forward to meet her.
"To the ordinary owner!" she said by way of a congratulatory toast, grasping Mazzoni's hand. "Do you remember? We met you in the beginning!"
Mazzoni and her husband, Mike, have a two-mare breeding program, but, in fairness, they probably stopped being ordinary when they bred a champion juvenile filly in She Be Wild, who earned the title in 2009. The Mazzonis and partner Lost Creek paid $50,000 for She Be Wild's dam, Trappings, 11 years ago at the Keeneland November sale. By the time She Be Wild was foaled in 2007, the Mazzonis were sole owners of Trappings; now both that mare and her illustrious daughter make up the entirety of their band. She Be Wild is in foal to Frankel this year.
The Mazzonis kept She Be Wild's first foal, a full sister to the session-topper. Now two and named Shebealittlewild, she's in training with She Be Wild's conditioner Wayne Catalano at Arlington Park, the Mazzonis' home track. She's approaching her first start.
"The first foal was a little on the small side," said Mazzoni, "so we just didn't think we'd get the money that we wanted for her. The pedigree's there, everything's there, but just, commercially, maybe not what everybody was going to look at. When the second one came, they were just two different animals. This one obviously was very commercial. She was very nice-looking as a weanling and going into her yearling year she got a little small, and we worried a little bit about that. But She Be Wild was small, but perfectly made.
"We were walking around the grounds today, and we thought, 'Yeah, she could be a tad taller, but everything's perfect and they're going to like her for what she is.' But I just can't believe it."
Weanling-to-yearling pinhookers generally fared very well in a market that most participants described as "solid" and that produced an extraordinarily low buyback rate of just 9.9%.
The most notable pinhooking success was for Hip 69, Merriebelle Stable's Tapit filly out of Rote. Merriebelle owners John Moores and Charles Noell spent $550,000 for her as a Keeneland November weanling, then decided this spring to wheel her back into the auction ring at Saratoga. Consigned by John Stuart's Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services, she brought the night's only other seven-figure price when Nat Rea's Regis Farms bid $1 million for her.
The session's relatively few other pinhooking ventures were more workaday by comparison but generally came out profitably. The average pinhook price for Monday night's 10 resold yearlings was $176,000, and their average sale price at Saratoga was $325,200. Most of those pinhooks were purchased last year as weanlings, but two were bought as short yearlings out of the Keeneland January sale. The first was Hip 21, a Scat Daddy—Hangingbyamoment colt that Spring House Farm bought for $150,000 and sold Monday night to Conquest Stable for $350,000. The second was Hip 24, a colt by first-crop sire Gio Ponti out of History that Foxtale Farm bought for $70,000; he brought $150,000 in a private sale Monday.
Many pinhooking hopefuls complained last fall about exorbitant prices for weanlings, but that trend looks like it may continue, if the reselling continues to be profitable for the remainder of the yearling auction season.
Ferguson Buying by Proxy
Sheikh Mohammed's principal agent John Ferguson was not at the sale Aug. 4, according to other members of the Darley buying team, and he was not, at any rate, in his customary bidding position immediately behind the pavilion. But he made his presence felt as the session's leading buyer, picking up seven yearlings for $3,275,000, with an average purchase price of $467,857 and median of $450,000.
Solis and Litt, who bought the session-topper for an undisclosed client, were second off of that single purchase. Regis Farms, which bought the $1 million Tapit—Rote filly, also bought a single horse and was the only other buyer to spend seven figures.
Among sellers, the large Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment was tops by gross after selling a dozen yearlings for $3,650,000; Bluewater Sales was next with two horses, including the $1,150,000 session-topper, fetching a combined $1,320,000.
Tapit and Medaglia d'Oro Dominate
Not surprisingly, Tapit led all sires by average with the night's two seven-figure fillies. The leader by average (three or more sold) was Medaglia d'Oro, with four yearlings sold for an average price of $416,250. Ferguson bought two of those: a $400,000 daughter of grade II winner India from Lane's End, agent, and a $675,000 son of stakes-winner Passion du Coeur from the Gainesway agency. The other two, a $400,000 filly out of grade II winner Ivanavinalot and a $190,000 daughter of grade II winner Rite Moment, went to Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm (Tom McGreevy, agent) and agent Ben McElroy, respectively.