Saratoga Strange: Filly's Buyer Flees

Man without credit signs sale ticket for Kingmambo filly, then leaves sale grounds.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Holly Bandoroff of Denali Stud of a bizarre incident that involved a well-bred dark bay or brown filly, a bald man in a plaid shirt, at least three Fasig-Tipton officials, and several policemen during the second and final session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale in New York Aug. 11.

The bidding on a Kingmambo – Imperial Beauty filly consigned by Denali, as agent for Greenwood Lodge Farm, opened at $1 million and then stalled, never rising above that amount. After the auctioneer’s hammer went down, a bald man, who was wearing a plaid shirt and sitting in the first row of seats to the far right of the auctioneer’s stand in the sale pavilion, signed the sale ticket. He refused to talk to reporters and stalked off, but quickly was stopped by Fasig-Tipton chairman Walt Robertson.

Robertson and Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning both talked to the man, who refused to cooperate with requests to provide information about himself and go to the sale office. He then briskly walked away, leaving the sale grounds with Browning and Robertson in pursuit. They chased him for a short distance, but eventually decided to let the man go. 

“I was told he was drunk, had no credit, and had run away,” said Bandoroff, who operates Denali with her husband, Craig.

During the bidding, the bald man sat with another man in a sleeveless shirt, who was questioned by policemen.

“He has been very cooperative,” said Fasig-Tipton executive vice president and chief operating officer Dan Pride, who listened in for a while on the interrogation. “He has given the police information.”

According to Pride, Fasig-Tipton probably won’t pursue the matter further. The bald man had not established credit with Fasig-Tipton prior to bidding, something that commonly is required by Thoroughbred auction firms.

“It’s a civil case if we do anything, and based on his (the bald man’s) profile, there probably isn’t a high probability of collection,” Pride said. “We pray that it doesn’t happen again.”

Bandoroff, while disappointed, didn’t lose her sense of humor.

“Well, we celebrated for a few minutes,” she said with a smile.

Recalling another strange auction situation, she added: “I remember one year at Keeneland some lady was walking around with a scan of her brain and telling everybody she had had a lobotomy. That’s the closest thing I could compare this to.”

Fasig-Tipton sent the filly back through the auction ring again later in the session, and was she was sold to Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate Co. for $300,000.  Greenwood Lodge Farm had purchased her, as a weanling, for $180,000 at the 2008 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Said Browning during the post-sale news conference: “When the incident happened, the consignor obviously was surprised, and Craig (Bandoroff) was quickly on the spot and was extremely cooperative and helpful to us. The owners of the filly (Mr. and Mrs. William McAlpin) were made aware of the situation and were understanding and very, very reasonable to deal with. We appreciate their cooperation, their understanding, the class they showed, and how they handled the situation.”