Outlook Bright for Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Auction

Everything is looking good in Saratoga, where Fasig-Tipton's select yearling sale begins its three night run Tuesday. The weather Monday in Upstate New York was sunny and warm, and the mood among buyers, consignors, and sale company officials was upbeat.

"Our Kentucky July sale was as expected," said Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson. "We knew we had good horses going in, and that's how it ended up at the end of the day. We have a lot of superior horses at Saratoga this week, and I would be shocked and disappointed if we didn't have a real good sale."

Just over 200 yearlings are scheduled to go through the sale ring. As of Monday afternoon, only eight of the 212 horses catalogued had been scratched. Sunday's racing results provided a boost to auction when Purge and The Cliff's Edge, who both have half-brothers in the sale with the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment, finished one-two in the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II). The yearlings catalogued also include three offspring sired by the great stallion Storm Cat.

Some sellers were fretting about a lack of lookers, but Kentucky bloodstock agent Peter Bradley didn't think there was any reason to worry.

"Consignors always panic at this sale because they think there are not enough people here," he said. "But you have so many days to look at the horses, and the buyers filter through more slowly than they do at other sales. Usually by the time the dust settles there's plenty of people to go around for the horses. I think it's going to be a good, strong sale.

"It's a very strong group of horses. I think they'll hire Bill Graves (the director of yearling sales) back for one more year because he's found some good horses again for Saratoga. Across the board, there are more uniform, good horses here, and I think they'll be more expensive horses. The average (price) should be up."

Said Russell Jones of Walnut Green: "I think there has been more action here. For sure on Saturday we had more people than we normally would have, and yesterday there were even more than Saturday. I wouldn't be the least bit worried about the action."

Sessions will start each night at 7:30 (EDT).

Last year, the 154 horses sold grossed $48,257,000 and averaged $313,357. The median price was $240,000. Compared to 2002, the gross rose 36.9%, and the average increased 24.5%. The median soared 33.3%. The buy-back rate fell significantly to 21.4%, down from 28.6% in 2002. The surge seen in Saratoga marked the start of a Thoroughbred market upswing that carried over into the breeding stock auctions and sales of 2-year-olds in training. It shows no signs of letting up.