Opening night for the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred preferred yearling sale saw powerful gains as 18 horses, topped by a $300,000 filly, sold for $100,000 or more Aug. 10 at the Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
The gross revenue of $6,427,500 for 95 total horses sold was up 76% versus $3,657,000 for 64 sold during the opening session in 2012, while the average of $67,658 rose 18% compared with $57,141 last year. The median was $55,000 as opposed to $50,000 on the first night in 2012, a 10% increase.
Like its sister sale, the Aug. 5-6 Saratoga sale of selected yearlings, the New York-bred sale saw a drop in buy-back rate. Only 38 horses failed to meet their reserve compared with 48 in 2012 for a 28% RNA rate compared with 42% in 2012. There were 133 horses offered this year compared with 112 in 2012.
"This was the old sales trifecta: average up, median up, and RNA rate down," said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning Jr. "Obviously it was a very good sale tonight. Anybody that has been on the sales grounds yesterday or today could feel the energy and could see the level of activity and interest was robust.
"The strength of the New York program is real and there's a tremendous interest in racing New York-breds."
This is the third straight year the New York-bred sale has posted gains.
"Five years ago when the transition occurred from the main sale to the New York-bred sale, there was a dramatic difference in the overall look and shape and quality of the horses on the sales grounds," Browning said. "And this week when the horses were shipping out and the horses were shipping in from the main sale to the New York-bred sale, it was quality leaving and quality coming in.
"I think that shows you the vast improvements that have been made by the New York breeders. They had to get better in order to compete and remain competitive, and they've done so. What we're seeing now is quality horses that happen to be New York-breds, as opposed to this being New York-breds that were occasionally a quality horse."
Agent Steve Young echoed that sentiment when he purchased the session-topper, a daughter of War Front out of the Pleasant Tap mare Unrepentant. Young went to $300,000 for the bay yearling, Hip 207, who was bred and consigned by Sienna Farms.
"She's more of a real good horse born in New York than a New York-bred, if that makes sense," said Young, who declined to mention his buyer but said the purchase would go to trainer Todd Pletcher. "She's by one of the best sires in America, and she's a great filly."
"She has been a lovely filly from day one; she showed a lot growing up," said Sal Simeon, owner of Sienna Farm. "The price was fair, but any less than that and we probably would have brought her home."
Hip 350, the final horse offered during session one, was the evening's highest-priced colt when purchased for $250,000 by William Schettine of Signature Stallions. From the Denali Stud consignment, the Midnight Lute colt was bred by Gallagher's Stud out of the Tale of the Cat mare Krakowviak, from the family of multiple grade I winner Switch.
"He's a very athletic colt; we thought he was the standout of the sale," said trainer Lisa Lewis, who works with Schettine. "He's by a really good young sire, which we like, and a good family behind him, so we're excited."
Hip 300, a son of Yes It's True who is a half brother to New York Derby winner Amberjack, was the second-highest-priced colt purchased for $200,000 by wine importer Peter Deutsch. Marshall Silverman consigned the chestnut yearling, bred by Dixie Farm out of the Crafty Friend mare Free as Tristan, who will go to trainer Christophe Clement.
Deutsch's best horses to date have been 2011 Dania Beach Stakes winner Adirondack Summer and her half brother, 2012 Tiller Stakes winner Summer Breezing. Involved in the wine importing business, he became interested in owning racehorses through Clement about five years ago, but had been a handicapper for 30-some years.
Deutsch said he was looking to expand his stock "cautiously and intelligently (to) really try to find great value and great opportunities."
"I love the New York racing program; I think they offer great opportunity for great value, and the horses are wonderful," Deutsch said. "I'm a New York hometown guy, do most of my racing here, and I'm excited about New York Thoroughbred racing."
Nick De Meric went to $185,000 for the session's second-highest-priced filly, Hip 339, a daughter of Malibu Moon who is a half sister to Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) winner Jessica Is Back. The chestnut filly, bred by Joseph DiRicio, was consigned by Denali Stud.
Fasig-Tipton officials anticipate a strong second session to wrap up the most robust New York-bred sale in recent history.
"It's very encouraging and there's lots of positive momentum in the New York program, and hopefully it's going to continue to grow and improve," Browning said. "I think you always have a little hesitation and some reservation when your numbers increase, but we took additional horses because this spring when we were doing inspections, we kept finding horses that worked.
"There was a better group of product available to us this year, and that's why the numbers increased from 2012 to 2013."
The New York-bred sale's second and final session is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. EDT Aug. 11.