Steroid testing at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale.

Steroid testing at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Steroid Tests Increase at Saratoga Sale

Fasig-Tipton officials reported buyers requested steroid tests on 30 of the 122 yearlings (24.6%) that sold during the two-day Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale Aug. 4-5 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Results of the tests are expected early in the week of Aug. 11.

The 24.6% test rate was dramatically higher than the 7.2% rate (22 of 305 yearlings) that was reported following the sale company’s Kentucky July auction.

If a steroid test is returned positive, the seller must pay the $500 test cost and the buyer has the right to return the offering.

Terence Collier, Fasig-Tipton director of marketing, said he believed two factors—familiarity with the testing process and the values of the horses offered at the Saratoga auction--contributed to the increased number of testing requests.

“I think probably familiarity with the process, as people hear more and more about it, I perceive we are going to see more activity,” he said. “The second factor is with a more expensive toy, I think people will avail themselves with any tool that is at their disposal. I always thought that we would get slightly more at this sale than we did in July. At that level (Saratoga select auction) when you are spending that amount of money, if you are of that inclination to use everything, the extra $500 is no disincentive to do that.”

Collier said Fasig-Tipton was happy to work alongside the Sales Integrity Task Force in offering the tests to buyers.

“I think we will go down the road and evaluate these tests and see what they are showing and see how popular they are and report to the Sales Integirty Task Force and let them make the decisions about this,” Collier added. “We have no reluctance to be part of it, and at the same time we are happy to work with them to determine how useful it is to the buyers.”

While there was a dramatic increase in the number of requests for steroid testing, interest in the voluntary ownership registry was slow. Ownership information was submitted for 27 horses in the Saratoga sale. Collier said only one buyer requested to see the information. At the July sale, 83 ownership interests were available in the respository and zero buyers requested to view the information.

“I think there are some refinements that we can bring to the ownership registry, but I think it has to be done in connection with recommendations from the Sales Integrity Task Force,” Collier said. “It has been a caution on the part of sellers to open that information to the public at large. Right now, the degree of activity in the registry makes it difficult to say that we need to do anything with it. I think that any advances in it will have to be looked upon in the light of what the sales integrity task force looks upon as its value.”