The timing of the first session of Fasig-Tipton's New York-bred yearling sale Aug. 12 couldn't have been better.
Shortly before the delayed start of the auction, New York-bred Pure Silver remained undefeated in three starts after she rolled to victory in the Adirondack Stakes (G2) at Saratoga Race Course, located just down the street from the Humphrey S. Finney sale pavilion
Though not a Fasig-Tipton sale grad, the Mission Impazible filly bred and campaigned by Twin Creeks Racing is indicative of the enhanced quality of horses bred in the Empire State, and that was reflected in the auction ring Saturday night.
Fasig-Tipton reported across-the-board gains in gross, average, and median prices, and a decline in the buy-back rate.
With 93 horses sold for gross receipts of $8,155,000—up from the $6,965,500 generated by 91 head sold this session one year ago—the session average of $87,688 represented a gain of 14.5% over the $76,544 figure a year ago. The median increased 25% to $75,000 from $60,000 and 30 horses not sold accounted for 24.4% of the 123 through the ring. Last year's opener produced an RNA rate of 33.6%.
"We hit the trifecta once again tonight from a sales perspective," said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. "Average was up, median was up, and the RNA rate was down. There was tremendous activity on the sale grounds yesterday and tonight, and a noticeable improvement in the horses on the grounds, in terms of physicals and conformation.
"It certainly helps, on one of the busiest weekends of the year at Saratoga, to have a New York-bred 2-year-old win a grade 2 race. It just further cements the competitiveness and the ability of New York-breds to compete at the highest levels."
Browning said the lucrative financial incentives provided by the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund to owners of New York-bred horses are a factor in the health of the sale.
"This program creates, not a sense of security, but there is some underfooting with the restricted races that supplement the increased quality that make this a pretty unique marketplace," he said.
For the second year in a row, weather impacted the first day of the two-day auction when a late afternoon thunderstorm that moved through upstate New York resulted in a delay in racing at Saratoga. To accommodate those attending the races and sale, Fasig-Tipton moved the start back by 30 minutes.
Last year the first session of the auction was postponed a day, which resulted in a one-day sale rather than a two-day affair, when a line of thunderstorms uprooted a tree in the stable area and flooded some stalls.
Once the action got underway this year, trade was vibrant throughout the night, as the end-users, pinhookers, and agents who pushed the Fasig-Tipton selected yearling sale in Saratoga to near-record levels earlier in the week shopped the New York-bred market.
"We got what we wanted tonight," said John Ed Anthony after he bought a First Samurai colt (Hip 439) for $220,000 in the name of his Shortleaf Stable. "I was here for the (selected) sale, and we got blown out of the water. We didn't even get a bid in."
Topping Saturday's session at $350,000 was a son of the late stallion City Zip bought by agent Mike Ryan on behalf of Kindred Racing.
Consigned as Hip 371 by Indian Creek, agent, the colt foaled May 27, 2016, was bred by James Lamonica, Lee Sacks, and Soave Stables, and was a $240,000 purchase in the name of Osprey Bloodstock at the 2016 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
"He moves like a good horse," Ryan said. "Everything about him—the size, dimension, strength, quality. I thought he was pretty complete. I thought he was the best horse in this sale. I've never seen a City Zip with the dimensions this horse has—the scope, the power, the physique, the sheer strength. And he's handsome to go with it."
Ryan said the colt was bought on behalf of a client based in Minneapolis who is "developing a quality racing stable. ... He loves the game. He's enthralled with it. His family loves the game. He's not new to it, but he's new to racing in New York. He has a couple of nice horses that will run later in the (Saratoga) meet."
On behalf of client Vineyard Ventures, Ryan purchased four yearlings for total receipts of $710,000, including the second-highest priced offering of the day, a Maclean's Music colt who exited the sale ring for a final bid of $275,000.
Offered by Vinery Sales, agent, as Hip 357, the colt named Better B Gud to Me was bred by David Kamp and Dr. Patricia Purdy. He is from the extended female family of Canadian champion Diva's Debut and Canadian Oaks winner Capdiva.
Ryan said Vineyard Ventures is the nom de plume of an unnamed, long-standing client of trainer Chad Brown and that he was attracted to the colt primarily because of his sire, whose progeny from his first crop include this year's Preakness Stakes (G1) winner, Cloud Computing. Trained by Brown for Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, Cloud Computing was purchased by Ryan as a yearling for $200,000.
"I'm really impressed with (Cloud Computing). He's a beast," Ryan said. "(The Maclean's Music colt) is bred the same way—out of an A.P. Indy-line mare. Cloud Computing is out of an A.P. Indy mare and this one's out of a Mineshaft mare (a son of A.P. Indy)."
The top filly price for the session was the $270,000 bid from Robert Masiello for Hip 428, a chestnut miss sired by Union Rags . Consigned by Hunter Valley Farm, the filly is out of the A.P. Indy mare Seattle Society, the dam of grade 3-placed Society Beau. Bred by Mares Rule III, the filly was purchased from the 2016 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga mixed sale for $70,000 in the name of Central Bloodstock.
With all nine horses offered sold for $1,031,000, Indian Creek was leading consignor on the day.
Vineyard Ventures' purchases made it the top buyer.
City Zip was leading sire, with three sold for total of $650,000.
Teresa Genaro contributed to this story.