They saved the best for last during the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale, when a son of Cairo Prince was sold for a sale-record price of $500,000 to highlight an Aug. 13 session that brought down the curtain on an auction that eclipsed all previous records.
Coming on the heels of Fasig-Tipton’s selected yearling sale in the same Humphrey S. Finney pavilion earlier in the week, in which the median was a record and the gross and average prices were the second-highest in that sale’s history, the two-day New York-bred sale saw 182 horses change hands for a record $16,214,000, up 18.6% over the $13,672,500 total for 177 head a year ago. The record average of $89,088 represented a gain of 15.3% over last year’s $77,246 and the median rose 25% to $75,000 from $60,000. The 62 horses that went unsold were 25.4% of the total through the ring.
According to Fasig-Tipton, the previous records for gross, average, and median of $14,876,500, $81,739, and $65,000, respectively, were established in 2015 when 182 horses were sold from 252 through the ring.
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.
"We had a tremendous week," said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. "There was great demand from start to finish. The growth of the New York-bred program continues to be demonstrated on the racetrack and in the sales ring. Participants in the program have continued to step up their efforts in quality and they were rewarded the last two nights.
"It has been a vibrant week. The market has been pretty good since the start of 2017 and I think there has been a sense of optimism. But I really think this week put a little extra oomph and bounce in buyers' and sellers' outlooks. It's not out of control. The one caveat and asterisk we all have to be mindful of is, we have dealt with pretty carefully selected product this week. We still have a marketplace that is somewhat polarized and we are going to have some days ahead throughout the yearling-sales season that are not going to be as enjoyable as the four days we had this week."
Browning said Fasig-Tipton’s success over the last week means the sale company will have to redouble efforts to improve upon it.
"The good news is, it was a really good week and the bad news is, damn it’s going to be tough to raise the bar on both sales next year," the executive said.
Consigned as Hip 589 by RFHF Bloodstock, the gray or roan Cairo Prince colt was one of the last into the sale ring and exited after being purchased by Ciaran Dunne in the name of Waves Bloodstock, on behalf of a partnership that includes the Florida horseman, some of his associates, and Kirk Wycoff’s Three Diamonds Farm. The previous New York-bred record of $450,000 was set by Mo Diddley last year.
"I’ve never seen one like him," Dunne said. "He’s as good as they come. We saw him three days ago, looked at him 20 times, and he just gets better every time. We didn’t care he was a New York-bred. He was just a good horse. He could have been here last week (during the Fasig-Tipton selected yearling sale). And believe me, if he was here last week, he would have fit last week. He would have fit anywhere. It’s a lot of money, and it might look stupid, but that’s OK. But right now we feel really good, because we have him.”
The colt was bred by Chris Bernhard’s Hidden Lake Farm and Chris Larsen’s 3C Joint Ventures. His mare, Garden City, purchased by Rhapsody Farm for $37,000 while carrying the colt in utero, when she was offered by Bluewater Sales at the 2016 Keeneland January mixed sale.
"It’s very exciting," Bernhard said, adding that the partners had predominantly sold weanlings, with the occasional yearling put through the ring. "I liked the colt all along and decided to go a little farther (in keeping him to sell as a yearling), and it went well beyond my expectations."
Garden City is by Carson City and the colt's third dam, Pure Profit, produced champion Inside Information and multiple grade 1 winner Educated Risk and is the granddam of champion Smuggler.
The second-highest price during the session was the $315,000 from Bradley Thoroughbreds on behalf of Sheep Pond Partners for a dark bay or brown filly by More Than Ready . Consigned as Hip 459 by Bluewater Sales, agent, the filly out of the winning Irish River mare St Francis Wood is a half sister to stakes winner Saratoga Dreamer and was bred by Aynsford Holdings.
"She has balance. She has quality," said agent Pete Bradley. "You saw how she acted in the ring. She’s by a great filly sire, a running family, and New York-breds are the thing to have right now. She’s a fancy one. She was one of the nicer horses in the sale, and unfortunately everybody else finds those, too.”
Bradley described the market as "solid. The handful of 'A-plus' physicals are bringing good money, but I’d say there are a lot of useable horses here that are getting bought at good but not stupid prices. It’s a solid market, but still selective.”
"We’ve had some success with the New York-bred program," said Jay Hanley, who purchased the filly with Sol Kumin in the name of the partnership.