Sky Mesa filly tops opening session at $1.15 million.

Sky Mesa filly tops opening session at $1.15 million.

Barbara D. Livingston

Two Yearlings Hit $1M at Saratoga; Hot Market for Fillies

The opening session of the 86th annual Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale was one for the ladies, as a strong market for fillies led the way Tuesday evening in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Three of the eight highest-priced yearlings that sold for $500,000 or more were fillies, including the session topper -- a $1,150,000 daughter of first-year sire Sky Mesa. A colt by Distorted Humor later sold for $1 million.

"That was as strong a group of pedigrees for the fillies as we've seen at Saratoga in a long time," said Terence Collier, announcer for Fasig-Tipton, following the sale. "There was a lot of depth and a lot of top families that we haven't seen in a while."

For the night, Fasig-Tipton reported 60 yearlings sold for $18,790,000. That makes for an average of $313,167. The median was $255,000. Last year, with a smaller catalogue, 51 yearlings were sold for $16,525,000, with an average of $324,020 and a $250,000 median. While the average was down slightly, the rise in median showed solid support throughout the session. Twenty yearlings - or 25% - were reported as not sold. That percentage was the same as last year.

"We thought it was a very strong effort," said D.G. Van Clief Jr., chairman of Fasig-Tipton. "I thought the sale was rock solid. We were very close to last year. The strength we saw in the July market followed right through here at this sale at this level. The fillies obviously stole the show a little bit."

"The average was down a little - by and large a good sale," said Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson. "Coming in, we were pretty happy with our physicals. When we got on the grounds, we were equally as happy. The buyers felt the same way."

When discussing the slight dip in average, Robertson said, "Probably one horse can be the difference. Last year, we had a $2-million horse, and tonight we had a $1.15 million filly. I think you throw that into a 60-horse average, and that's all of it."

That $1.150-million topper was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock agent John Ferguson. She was consigned by Gainesway, agent.

Moments after the hammer fell on her, a son of Distorted Humor  sold for $1 million to Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell Estate.

A first-year sire, Sky Mesa  won the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) across the street at Saratoga Race Course in 2002. The imposing chestnut filly is out of the stakes-winning and grade I-placed Darling My Darling, by Deputy Minister. Darling My Darling was raced by Debby Oxley and the million-dollar filly was bred in Kentucky by Oxley. Her husband, John Oxley, raced Sky Mesa .

"I wish I had some smelling salts," said Debby Oxley after the filly sold. "I thought I was going to faint at one point."

Darling My Darling is a half-sister to Japan Horse of the Year Zenno Rob Roy.

"She's an outstanding physical," Ferguson said. "And out of an excellent family; one that has been strong on dirt and turf. Sky Mesa has every right to sire a good turf horse."

Underbidder on the filly was John Sikura, owner of Hill 'n' Dale Farm, who was acting on behalf of a client.

The Distorted Humor  colt was sold following a spirited bidding duel between Rick Nichols of Shadwell and bloodstock agent Demi O'Byrne, who represents Coolmore. Shadwell won this battle. The colt, consigned by Lane's End, agent, is out of the unraced Storm Bird mare Demi Souer. The chestnut colt is a half-brother to Withers Stakes (gr. II) winner Fast Decision (by Gulch).

Nichols also signed the ticket for $575,000 for a colt by Elusive Quality. Out of the stakes-winning Cozzene mare Lady Aloma, the gray/roan colt was consigned to the sale by Dromoland Farm, agent.

A colt by Storm Cat out of the Gone West mare Gone to the Moon sold for $900,000 to Florida pinhooker Randy Hartley. The only Storm Cat in the sale, he was expected by many to bring the session's highest priced. Hartley is partners with Dean DeRenzo, and the pair sold The Green Monkey earlier this year at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-old sale for a record $16 million. Hartley purchased the colt while bidding out behind the sale pavilion near the walking ring.

"He's a Storm Cat, and he's got a lot of leg," Hartley said. "I thought he was the best colt in the sale. We put a little group together to buy him, and we'll see what happens. It's a big gamble and a big risk, but he could be a top-notch 2-year-old."

The underbidder on the colt was pinhooker Jerry Bailey, who was seated next to trainer Patrick Biancone.

A few hips earlier, a final bid of $600,000 by Charlotte Weber brought a daughter of Pulpit -- Copelan's Bid Gal, by Copelan.

Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, the filly is a full sister to grade I winner Purge. Purge won the Cigar Mile (gr. I) and also annexed the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga, and won the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park.

First-crop sires Sky Mesa  and Vindication were also the stars of the sale. Sky Mesa had four yearlings sell for $1,965,000 while Vindication had four yearlings sell for a total of $1,320,000.

The sale's second and final session will take place tomorrow evening starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Humphrey S. Finney Sales Pavilion.

Top Prices
Hip - Sex – Pedigree – Consignor – Buyer – Price

Hip 32 – F – Sky Mesa -- Darling My Darling, by Deputy Minister – Gainesway, Agent – John Ferguson - $1,150,000

Hip 35 – C – Distorted Humor -- Demi Souer, by Storm Bird – Lane's End, agent – Shadwell Estate - $1,000,000

Hip 66 – C – Storm Cat -- Gone to the Moon, by Gone West – Paramount Sales, agent – Randy Hartley - $900,000

Hip 68 – C – Tale of the Cat -- Good Vibes, by Unbridled's Song – Eaton Sales, Agent – Demi O'Byrne - $625,000

Hip 26 – F – Pulpit -- Copelan's Bid Gal, by Copelan – Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent – Charlotte Weber - $600,000

Hip 82 – C – Elusive Quality -- Lady Aloma, by Cozzene – Dromoland Farm, agent – Shadwell Estate - $575,000

Hip 78 – C – Giant's Causeway -- Isle Go West, by Gone West – Gainesway, Agent – Arc Bloodstock, agent - $550,000

Hip 36 – F – Vindication -- Discovering Beauty, by Theatrical – Padua Stables, Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent – Richard Greeley Jr. - $500,000