Medaglia D'Oro mania helps fuel record receipts at Saratoga
All the news from the second and final session of the boutique auction
It was an emotional evening at the Saratoga Sale on Tuesday after Fasig-Tipton's select yearling auction in upstate New York ended its two-day run with record gross receipts of $62,794,000, a second-highest average of $369,376 and a joint-highest median price of $300,000.
Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning jnr had to compose himself several times in delivering the good news about the robust market, choking back tears as he remembered the late Bill Graves, Fasig-Tipton's long-time senior vice president.
Graves, whose keen eye for a horse was unique within the industry and who headed the selection team that decides which horses are catalogued in the Saratoga Sale, died in May after a brief illness.
Graves is widely credited with the success of Fasig-Tipton and the Saratoga Sale in particular.
"I'm pleased to report that the 2018 Saratoga Sale established a new record for gross sales," Browning said. "It doesn't happen without the trust and confidence of the best breeders, best pinhookers, and best consignors in the world. The quality of horses we had on the sale grounds this week was fantastic.
"It also doesn't happen without a tremendous team," an emotional Browning continued. "I'm biased. I think we have the best team in the world at Fasig-Tipton across the board. It's a collection of people who truly care about the business, about the company, about the people we sell for, and about each other.
"We were obviously missing in person a key member of our team, but I think he was with us. He was with us throughout the selection process and putting together the catalogue. We barely established a record, by a couple hundred thousand dollars, and I don't know if you believe in divine intervention, but I'm not going to ask any questions. It's humbling. It's invigorating. It's a significant accomplishment."
Asked what Graves' reaction would have been, initially Browning jokingly said, "I can't say," before adding, "He'd say, 'Boyd, we did it.' And we did."
Topped by demand for yearlings by Medaglia D'Oro and offspring of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, this year's numbers for 170 horses sold represented large gains on 2017, when 156 lots changed hands for gross receipts of $52,995,000, with an average price of $339,712 and a $300,000 median.
The 46 horses who did not sell represented 21 per cent of the horses through the ring. Last year's buyback rate was 20 per cent for 38 who did not make their reserve prices.
Five horses sold for seven figures or more, surpassing last year's two joint-sale toppers at $1 million, and there were 35 individuals who achieved final prices in excess of $500,000, compared with 30 a year ago.
Medaglia D'Oro in demand
The sale-topper was a dark bay or brown colt by Medaglia D'Oro purchased by West Point Thoroughbreds, Rob Masiello, Chris Larsen, and Siena Farm for $1.35m during the Tuesday session.
Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency as hip 196, the colt is out of the stakes-winning Wildcat Heir mare Coco's Wildcat, who is from the female family of champion Songbird.
"We were looking at [another] Medaglia D'Oro, and I said, 'If we're looking at this horse, I have to pull out 196; this horse is unbelievable,'" Masiello said. "He's a superstar - everything about him. He's so leggy and correct. We were in love with him. He was a horse that every time we thought about our short list, he was on the top of my head.
"We pulled him out, and the first thing I said to Terry [Finley] was, 'I'm showing you this horse, but we're going to have to open up our chequebooks.' Fortunately, we have Chris Larsen involved, who I partner with. We're partners on Berned, who won the Molly Pitcher last week, and we have Anthony Manganaro, too."
The colt was bred by WinStar Farm, with Kenny Troutt's operation retaining a ten per cent interest in the youngster.
"WinStar stayed in. I try not to look at who bred the horse," Finley said. "I try to stay away from that, because I think you start to have biases. I like to just look at the horse. I called a couple of people before the sale, and I told them this horse gave me goosebumps.
"[WinStar Farm president] Elliott [Walden] said, 'Is there ten per cent left?' and I said, 'We might make room for you.'"
Mark Taylor of Taylor Made Sales said the colt's mind, in addition to his physical presence, is what he believes helped separate him from the pack.
"He has size, scope, walk, but the best thing he has is between his ears," Taylor said. "He showed 65 more times than any other horse in our consignment, and that's unusual for a horse that is going to bring $1 million, because usually people think, 'If I can't afford him, I'm not going to look at him.'
"But there were people coming over to look at him just because they heard how good he was. Even if they couldn't afford him, they still wanted to look."
Phoenix Thoroughbreds strike
Second-highest price of $1.3m was paid by Phoenix Thoroughbreds for hip 204, a Medaglia D'Oro filly consigned by Warrendale Sales, agent.
The filly is a half sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Exaggerator and is out of the Vindication mare Dawn Raid, who is a half-sister to Canadian champion Embur's Song.
"I liked everything about her. She's a work of art," said trainer Steve Asmussen, who was sitting alongside the Phoenix Thoroughbreds team. "She's a beautiful filly. I don't think you're very likely to find another like her.
"She's a beautiful pedigree as well as the physical to go with it."
Amer Abdulaziz of Phoenix Thoroughreds commented that the strength of the market forced him to stretch his pockets to land the desirable filly.
"We saved the money for tonight," Abdulaziz said. "We bought what we wanted. We were prepared to go higher."
Hunter Simms of Warrendale Sales said the final price was in line with their expectations of the filly.
"We did expect her to bring that price. She had the residual value, the pedigree, the looks," Simms said. "All the big players were lined up on her. She was very well-received. We were expecting around $1 million."
Lael Stables get stuck in
A bay filly by Medaglia D'Oro was the first to hit the seven-figure mark during Tuesday's session of the Saratoga Sale when she elicited a final bid of $1m.
Roy Jackson signed the ticket on behalf of Lael Stable for the filly, the first foal out of the Distorted Humor mare Veracity, a daughter of Graded stakes winner Yell. Veracity is also a sister to stakes winner Cheery, the dam of Alabama Stakes and Beldame Stakes winner Elate.
The Medaglia D'Oro filly was consigned by Indian Creek as Hip 143.
"It was right on our expectations," Shack Parrish of Indian Creek said of the price. "We thought somewhere between $750,000 and that. The pedigree is absolutely terrific. She was a really nice filly, exceptional for a first foal. Everything went well."
Jackson said the filly will eventually head to trainer Arnaud Delacour.
"I thought she was awful nice. We thought it would be expensive," Jackson said. "I liked the pedigree, and I liked her physically. She struck us all the way around.
"We're always stretching [for quality horses]. You always hope to get them a little cheaper, but we always try to buy a couple fillies each year to turn them into broodmares, and she fits the bill."
Flay forks out for Tapit filly
The fireworks started early on Tuesday with James Delahooke as agent for Bobby Flay going to $875,000 for a bay daughter of Tapit.
Consigned by Dromoland Farm as Hip 137, the filly is out of the stakes-winning Galileo mare Twirl, who was a $3.1m buy-back at last year's Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
Twirl is a sister to multiple Group 1 winner Misty For Me and Group 1 winner Ballydoyle. Misty For Me is herself a prolific producer, with her progeny including group 1 winners US Navy Flag and Roly Poly and Group 3 winner Cover Song.
"She is quite a sweet filly by a top-class sire and her pedigree backs it up," said Gerry Dilger of Dromoland. "She's worth every penny of it. I'm just happy for the owner."
Flay added that he wasn't sure yet which trainer the filly will go to.
"A Galileo mare, Tapit filly, just kind of hits me right down the middle. That's the kind of bloodstock I'm trying to acquire," Flay said.
"I'm not surprised at the price. Could have been more. The one thing about this is that there's a lot of intrinsic value in her bloodlines and her pedigree. When you have a filly by Tapit out of a Galileo mare, the downside is a lot less than if you're going to take a shot at a colt, that's for sure."
American Pharoah again
A daughter of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah continued the parade of strong prices when trainer Mark Casse signed the ticket on behalf of John C. Oxley for $875,000 during Tuesday's session.
Consigned by Lane's End as Hip 225, the filly is out of the stakes-winning Distorted Humor mare Funny Feeling who is a sister to Grade 1 winner Jimmy Creed . Funny Feeling is out of Grade 1 winner and top producer Hookedonthefeeling, who is also the dam of Grade 1 winner Pussycat Doll.
"We just loved her. More importantly, Mr and Mrs Oxley loved her," Casse said. "Love her pedigree, just an outstanding pedigree. American Pharoahs are unbelievable. We're just happy to get her.
"We've been shut out, but we've been doing OK. We've been waiting on this one a while. It's not easy [to buy]. We've been stepping up [in price] a little higher."
Lane's End sales director Allaire Ryan said the filly's price exceeded expectations.
"She went beyond her expectations but that is what happens when you have two people team up and take it beyond its reserve," Ryan said.
"She had plenty of activity at the barn. She is a later foal but well-made and well-balanced. She has a lot of ability in both pedigree and physical. It worked out great for everybody. We're thrilled."
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