Skip Dickstein

Saratoga Sale Memories: Most Are Good

Read what buyers and consignors had to say about the Saratoga select yearling sale.

Memories of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale are pleasant ones for many people. Even though there was economic turmoil and uncertainty, the auction performed strongly during its two-night run, Aug. 8-9, in upstate New York. Sheikh Mohammed’s enthusiastic spending provided a big boost to the market.

Read what buyers and consignors had to say:

Guinness McFadden, Three Chimneys Sales: “It was stronger than you would have expected and Sheikh Mohammed played a big role in that. But it’s still real money in the consignors’ hands, so I was very pleased. Any time the stock market dips so much, it makes you feel a little uneasy, but the right people were here and we had a ton of vet work (on the horses). It made me feel good.

“This is the absolute pinnacle of the market. People who play at this level, while affected by that kind of a (stock market) drop, are less affected than the people who shop in book four through book six (of the catalog) in September (at the Keeneland yearling sale). In huge recessions, fortunes are made, and the people buying these horses are the ones making those fortunes. I think even in a downturn there is huge opportunity. You can take the opportunity to pay $600,000 for what would have been a $1.2 million horse. We’re still in the bottom of the market, so there is still great value to be had.”

Headley Bell, Mill Ridge Sales and Nicoma Bloodstock:  “I thought the sale was terrific. All the indicators were up even though you’ve got a down economy. It indicates there were good horses here that people wanted. Even if Sheikh Mohammed was very active, there were certainly people underneath (as underbidders). I don’t think there were consignors underneath on all those horses, so that means there is depth to the market.

“It (a sharp downturn in the stock market) always matters, but this is a game of the wealthy and they have a passion for this; they love it. There were some nice horses here and they want to compete at the top level. That’s the bottom line. It’s really all about the job that Saratoga has done or Fasig-Tipton has done to recruit these quality horses. The level of quality has increased every year in the time that Sheikh Mohammed has been (attending the sale). We wouldn’t have brought (the $1.2-million colt out of) Easter Bunnette here if we didn’t feel there was the strength in the market to do that.”

Gerry Dilger, Dromoland Farm: “I thought the people were here to buy the horses. Even with all the talk about the stock market – the stock market this and the stock market that – people wanted nice horses. I think they had their minds made up to buy good horses and that’s what they did.

“Friday (Aug. 5) we were very busy. Saturday (Aug. 6) we were a little bit less busy and I thought that was because of Friday. Sunday (Aug. 7) we were swamped; I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been coming here for years, and there was more action yesterday morning (Aug. 8), the day of the sale, than in previous years, I thought.”

Steve Young, bloodstock consultant: “I’m sure that there were people who looked at it (the stock market fluctuations and other economic concerns) two ways. There were some people who, I think, were greatly affected by it and then there were other people who are probably insulated enough that they think that when things are bad it is a better opportunity for them. I know more about horses than I do about money.

“Saratoga is a boutique sale and I don’t think anybody comes here with the idea that they are going to steal a horse. It’s never been like that and probably never will be. The results say that the horses brought plenty of money. I think it was bidder against bidder more than bidder against the reserve.”

Meg Levy, Bluewater Sales: “I thought the sale looked quite good, considering all the (negative economic) factors. I thought the horses matched up with the prices. People were aggressive bidding for what they wanted.

“I think supply meets demand in this sale. The sale’s gotten smaller, and the sale team does a great job (selecting horses). Look at the individuals and the pedigrees that were in this sale.”

Bruce Hill, Live Oak Plantation: “I guess it was just one of those deals where people looked at it (the economic turmoil) as an opportunity to do something in a weak market. I just think everybody had that same idea and it kind of jumped up the average.

“(When we bid) we just go in knowing what our number is on a horse we like and we don’t try to be so smart as to think we know exactly what Sheikh Mohammed or anybody else is doing. We pay attention to our own business and we don’t worry about what other buyers are doing. We know what our number is and we go to it, and if they (other buyers) run past it, we stop. And if it happens to be Sheikh Mo that we were bidding against, so be it. We don’t try to outthink it that much.”

“There are always good horses here. Was the quality as deep as last year? Maybe not. But it still was very deep. There were plenty of good horses.”

Anthony Stroud, English bloodstock agent:  “It (the sale) has gone against all the economic trends of the world and there’s also been rioting in London. But people see a nice horse and they think that racing is fun, so sometimes they put everything else aside, embrace the sport, and swim against the current.  Overall, Darley and Sheikh Mohammed are a huge, huge key to the whole thing. He (Sheikh Mohammed) is an amazing man.

“I think there were some very nice horses and they were quite outstanding individuals. Stallions like Medaglia d'Oro  and Bernardini  have appeal on both sides of the Atlantic (Ocean) and I think those horses that do have joint appeal are so important because the difference between America and Europe is just so great right now. If you have a Medaglia d’Oro, a Bernardini, a Street Cry, or a Giant's Causeway  (yearling), it’s a big help.”

Dale Romans, trainer: “It’s been real tough to buy. There are some good horses here.”