Fasig-Tipton officials were optimistic Monday morning as buyers flocked to the sale barns to view prospects for the Saratoga select yearling sale. The team for Coolmore Stud was busy. So was John Ferguson, the bloodstock manager for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai. Trainer Dallas Stewart, British bloodstock agent Joss Collins, Florida horsemen Kevin and J.B. McKathan, and several Japanese groups also were looking at horses in the sweltering New York heat.
"Everyone is here that you need for horse sale to be successful," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "People are also telling us they are pleased with the horses that they are seeing."
The auction gets under way Tuesday night and will run through Thursday, with sessions beginning at 7:30 p.m. (EDT).
"There's lots of interest, steady traffic, the usual buyers," said consignor Suzi Shoemaker of Lantern Hill Farm. "This is probably the strongest physical group of horses that I've ever seen at a select sale. There are very few horses that come out of the stall and you say, 'I wonder how that horse ended up in a select sale.' "
New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace expressed a similar opinion.
"Overall, there's a lot of nice horses, and there looks like there are lot of people here to buy them, too," he said. "I've got 30 horses on my short list -- and that's a lot."
High among Chace's picks is a Storm Cat colt that is a full brother to grade I winner Forestry and a half-brother to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Cash Run (by Seeking the Gold). Bred by Robert S. Evans, the colt is consigned to the sale by Taylor Made Sales Agency. He is scheduled go through the sale ring on Wednesday night and will be the last horse offered in the session.
"He looks a lot like Forestry," Chace said. "But he's maybe got a little better hip and a little better forearm than Forestry. He's not a big horse, but he looks like he's only going to improve as he grows. He's very correct and sound looking, and he's got a nice head."
The Saratoga sale is coming off a banner year in 2001, when records were established for gross revenue, average price, and median price. More horses than ever before brought $1 million and up, $500,000 and up, and $200,000 and up. Fasig-Tipton officials have warned not to expect the same sort of fireworks at the very top of the market this year. The yearling market, in general, is lacking sire power with the deaths of Mr. Prospector, Seattle Slew, and Nureyev, along with the declining commercial appeal of offspring by the aging Danzig. This year's Saratoga sale also suffered a big blow when breeder WinStar Farm scratched a Storm Cat -- Colcon colt.
"Our big strength this year is that we've got a lot of exceptional individuals by young stallions like Grand Slam, Unbridled's Song, Exploit, and Elusive Quality," said Bill Graves, Fasig-Tipton's director of yearling sales.
Following are some horses to watch on Tuesday night that have been generating positive buzz on the sale grounds:
Hip No. 4, a Grand Slam colt that is a half-brother to grade III winner Gin Talking (by Allen's Prospect).
Hip No. 7, a Kingmambo colt out of the stakes-winning Housebuster mare Clandestine Caller.
Hip No. 20, an Unbridled colt out of the winning Sunshine Forever mare Dance of Sunshine. He is from the family of champion sprinter Eillo.
Hip No. 31, an Unbridled's Song filly out of the unraced Mt. Livermore mare Dreamscape, who is a full sister to champion Housebuster.
Hip No. 36, a Gulch colt that is a half-brother to grade I winner Brought to Mind.
Hip No. 41, a Capote colt that is a half-brother to grade I stakes winner Take Charge Lady.
Hip No. 43, an A.P. Indy colt that is a half-brother to stakes winners Tuzia and Tanja.
Hip No. 53, a Gulch colt out of the Deputy Minister mare Good Cents.
Hip No. 57, a Hennessy colt who is out of the unraced Kingmambo mare Hadley. He is from the family of Canadian champion Kamar and grade I winner Love Smitten.
Hip No. 59, an A.P. Indy filly out of the winning Nureyev mare Harda Arda.
Hip No. 65, an A.P. Indy filly out of stakes winner High Heeled Hope.