Saratoga yearling sales week closes on another giddy high
Top lot of $500,000 at NY-bred auction adds to series of records
The yearling sales season continued its early bull run on Sunday when the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred auction in Saratoga closed with indices that eclipsed all previous records – crowned by a son of exciting freshman Cairo Prince, sold for a sale-record price of $500,000.
At the selected yearling sale, staged last week in the same Humphrey S. Finney pavilion, the median was a record while gross and average prices were the second-highest in that sale's history. And that fervour spilled over into the two-day local market, where 182 horses changed hands for a record $16,214,000, up 18.6 per cent on $13,672,500 for 177 head a year ago. The record average of $89,088 represented a gain of 15.3 per cent (from $77,246) while the median rose 25 per cent to $75,000 from $60,000. The 62 horses that went unsold represented 25.4 per cent of the total through the ring.
Previous records for gross, average, and median – respectively of $14,876,500, $81,739, and $65,000 – had been set in 2015, when 182 horses were sold from 252 through the ring.
The New York-bred market is fuelled, in part, by the lucrative New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund, which has a tiered rewards system for owners depending whether or not a New York-bred horse is sired by a state registered 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 programme 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 that we have dealt with pretty carefully selected product this week. We still have a marketplace that is somewhat polarised, 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."
Consigned as Hip 589 by RFHF Bloodstock, the grey or roan Cairo Prince colt was one of the last into the ring. He was purchased by Ciaran Dunne in the name of Waves Bloodstock, on behalf of a partnership that includes the Florida horseman, some 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 select sale]. And believe me, if he had been, he would have fit. He would have fit anywhere. It's a lot of money, and it might look stupid, but that's okay. But right now we feel really good, because we have him."
"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 [i.e. 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.
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."
Assessing the market, Bradley added: "The handful of 'A-plus' physicals are bringing good money, but I'd say there are a lot of useable horses here getting bought at good but not stupid prices. It's a solid market, but still selective."
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