D. Wayne Lukas, Hall of Fame trainer and yearling sale regular.

D. Wayne Lukas, Hall of Fame trainer and yearling sale regular.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Expectations High For Saratoga Yearling Sale

The nation's economy may be on the skids, but the mood in the Thoroughbred marketplace is upbeat. After stronger than expected results at Kentucky's July auctions, the action moves to Saratoga, where Fasig-Tipton will conduct the 81st edition of its select yearling sale beginning Tuesday night.

"We're extremely optimistic," said Bill Graves, Fasig-Tipton's director of yearling sales. "Since I've been here, this is the best catalogue we've ever had."

Major buyers and their representatives were out in force at the sale barns over the weekend and again on Monday. They included British bloodstock agent John Ferguson, who represents the Maktoum family's Godolphin racing; Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp; Coolmore Stud; and pharmaceutical executive Eugene Melnyk.

"Top to bottom, this is an excellent group of horses," said trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "I'm giving some very solid scores."

The sales runs through Thursday, with each evening's session scheduled to begin at 7:30 (EDT) at the Humphrey F. Finney Pavilion. In all, 237 horses are catalogued.

"The ball should get rolling quickly because we have some very attractive individuals early in the sale," Graves said.
But the biggest fireworks may come on Wednesday night, when the offerings will include two sons of Storm Cat that have generated a lot of favorable buzz. Hip No. 88 is out of the winning Gone West mare Gone to Venus and is full brother to graded winner Saudi Poetry. He is consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent. Hip No. 135 is the second foal produced from the graded stakes-winning mare Miss Caerleona (by Caerleon). He is consigned by Lane's End, agent for Stonerside Stable.

Based on comments heard around the sale grounds, the only yearling in the auction from Mr. Prospector's final crop also has received favorable reviews from buyers. Slated to be offered on Thursday night, Hip No. 215 is a colt out of the winning Storm Bird mare Stone Flower, who is a half-sister to grade I winner Danger's Hour and a full sister to English group III winner Stonehatch. The second foal for his dam, he is consigned by Eaton Sales, agent.

"The biggest concern that we've got as a sales company is with the top end horses because the market is still thin in terms of buyers at that level," said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "There are few key folks who have made the top end of the market strong. You hope that they continue to be active and have the same opinion that you do about what are perceived to be the top horses. You provide the best product you can, but ultimately the buyers have to decide what they like and how far they are willing to go."

A sale record for average price was established at last year's Saratoga auction, and the median price equaled the sale mark.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, bloodhorse.com will post live interactive sales results, showing buyer and sale price (RNA price if not sold) throughout the entire sale.

(More, Fasig-Tipton)