The barn area at Fasig-Tipton's sale grounds in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. was brimming with activity the morning of Aug. 11 as consignors and buyers inspected the New York-bred yearlings that will be on offer for the Aug. 12-13 sale.
Fasig-Tipton has cataloged 296 entries for the auction that will begin each evening at 6:30 p.m. ET.
There was a positive vibe amongst those doing the showing and looking, as the eminently successful selected sale, held earlier in the week, was still fresh in the minds of industry professionals. With that auction producing the highest median and second-highest gross and average in the nearly 100 years that Fasig-Tipton has conducted the Saratoga sale, many believe there will be a carryover effect in the New York-bred sale.
On Friday, the stable area was filled by many of the same owners, trainers, and agents active at the select sale, including some who had been frustrated by the inability to get the horses they wanted.
"We just figured we would stick around because we were already here," said Randy Hartley, who with business partner Dean De Renzo, bought two of the 10-11 yearlings they were attempting to buy at the first Saratoga sale. "We've only stuck around for this sale one time and it worked out really well for us. We bought a yearling for $160,000 and sold it for $580,000.
"So we thought we would try to pluck one out of here. But there are still a lot of people here and they will all probably land on the same horses (to buy)."
Tommy Eastham of Legacy Bloodstock added, "A lot of people got outrun on some horses."
Consignor Archie St. George said the select sale numbers could bode well for the New York-bred auction.
"Any time you come off a positive sale, it's going to have a good effect on the market," he said. "There is obviously a hunger for horses and I would suspect it's going to be a good sale, but you still have to have the horse."
"I think there are a lot of good horses here that probably could have been in the select sale based on their physical (attributes), but they were probably brought here so they could be a bigger fish in a smaller pond," added Derek MacKenzie of Vinery Sales. "My group is the strongest I have had in the seven years I have been selling at this sale."
The New York-bred market is fueled in part by the lucrative New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund, which has a tiered rewards system for owners based on whether a horse is a New York-bred sired by a New York registered stallion, or whether it is a New York-bred sired by a non-New York stallion.
More than 45 stakes and 800 overnight races restricted to New York-breds are run annually at the New York Racing Association tracks and Finger Lakes.
Those incentives can make a big difference when it comes to buying decisions, say consignors.
"You do get a little more for a yearling when it has that New York-bred stamp," said Meg Levy of Bluewater Sales.
"People really seem eager to buy New York-breds," said Don Robinson, who has seen an increase in the quality of offerings during the five years in which Winter Quarter Farm has had a consignment at the sale. "The first year we were here was like fish in a barrel. Then the quality got much more serious. Over the last several years, it has had the most enthusiasm of any horse sale I've been to. You see a lot of horse trainers here picking out horses in late morning and you don't see a lot of that at other sales.
"We've always done well up here. I have very good New York owners and breeders and they encourage me to come up here and sell."
The 2016 edition of the auction was noteworthy due to a line of horrendous thunderstorms that moved through upstate New York just as the first session was scheduled to begin.
Initially, Fasig-Tipton officials attempted to wait it out, but after a large tree fell and landed on one barn roof and some stalls were flooded, they made the decision to postpone the session until the following day. A scheduled two-night affair became a long one-day event.
Sale company personnel and consignors were quick to adapt and, in the end, the numbers reflected that resiliency.
"That was crazy," said Levy, whose horses were located in the barn where the tree fell. The Kentucky horsewoman said other than doubling her personnel costs, "it worked out OK."
"It didn't hurt the sale, it just delayed it a little," Robinson said.
The sale was topped by Mo Diddley, a son of Uncle Mo bought by Cheyenne Stables from McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds for a sale-record $450,000. Now trained by Mark Casse, Mo Diddley won his debut in May and is slated to start in the Aug. 13 Saratoga Special Stakes Presented by Coors Light (G2).
Fasig-Tipton reported 177 horses were sold for gross receipts of $13,672,500, down 8.1% from the 2015 gross of $14,876,500 from 182 head sold. The average declined 5.5% from $81,739 to $77,246 and the median fell from $65,000 a year ago to $60,000.
Mind Your Biscuits was offered in 2014 by Select Sales, but was bought back for $47,000. He subsequently has won four graded/group stakes, including the Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News (G1) and Malibu Stakes (G1), and has earned more than $2.2 million.
Haveyougoneaway, sold by Four Star Sales for $105,000 in 2012, has won six stakes, including the 2016 Ballerina Stakes (G1), and earned more than $907,000.