Top Of The Market Ready To Shine At Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale – Paulick Report

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The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale takes place Aug. 6-7, beginning each day at 6:30 p.m. Eastern

Interest in upper-level offerings continues to grow in the Thoroughbred auction market, and nowhere is that more evident than in the size of the catalog for the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale.

This year’s edition features 253 entries, which is the most on this side of the millennium. Sellers will be looking for more of a good thing after last year’s auction produced across-the-board gains and a record median sale price of $300,000.

The auction will take place Monday and Tuesday in the Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., beginning each day at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Headley Bell of Mill Ridge Farm said the larger catalog far from opened the floodgates in terms of diluting the quality of horseflesh on the grounds, crediting both Fasig-Tipton’s selection team and the consignors for putting together a strong book of offerings.

“Fasig does such a fantastic job of collecting athletes and promoting the sale,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve been dealing with selectivity for some time, but that’s expected, and in anticipation of coming to these sales, you think selectively, so you need to bring horses to fit the market.”

The Saratoga sale is the first test for the very top of the market during the yearling season, following the physical-driven Fasig-Tipton July selected yearling sale last month. The July sale finished with healthy overall gains, including the first six-figure average sale price in over a decade, giving the market plenty of momentum as it heads into the defining part of the season.

Seven-figure horses are to be expected in Saratoga, but they are still highly uncommon. Even with the abundance of high-end specimens in the presence of elite buyers in an especially competitive setting, no Saratoga sale has produced more than three horses that changed hands at the seven-figure mark since 2010.

Trade in the high six figures will be much more common, with last year’s sale producing an average price of $339,712. The 2017 sale grossed $52,995,000 from 156 yearlings sold. Both average and gross were up 16 percent from 2016.

This year’s Saratoga sale will also be notable for including the debut crop of yearlings by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. His 15 horses cataloged are the most by any first-year stallion in this year’s sale, and the Ashford Stud stallion trails only Uncle Mo, who has 16 entries, among all sires in the book.

American Pharoah has already sent a trio of seven-figure horses through the ring in the U.S. and Japan during the weanling and short yearling portions of the last mixed sale season, setting up high expectations for his foals as they enter their first proper yearling season.

Beyond the buzz of American Pharoah, this year’s class of first-year stallions in the Saratoga catalog is an especially strong one, including Lane’s End residents Liam’s Map (11 yearlings entered), Honor Code (nine), and Tonalist (five). WinStar Farm is represented by a pair of newcomers in Carpe Diem (nine) and Constitution (four). Others with first yearlings in the catalog include Three ChimneysPalace Malice (six), Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm’s Bayern (two), Darby Dan Farm‘s Tapiture (two), Claiborne Farm’s Lea (one), and Airdrie Stud‘s Summer Front (one).

Also of note, the repatriated sire Empire Maker makes his return to the Saratoga catalog with five yearlings from his first crop since coming home from Japan. The Belmont Stakes winner now resides at Gainesway in Lexington, Ky., after standing five seasons abroad.

The upcoming auction will hold a special weight for the Fasig-Tipton staff as the first Saratoga sale without late vice president Bill Graves, who was a guiding force in building the auction to its current heights. The company has honored him with a tribute page at the front of the catalog and a plaque above the walking ring outside the pavilion. Fasig-Tipton is also offering a necktie in his honor, with the money going to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

“It’s very hard for us going up there to be there without Bill,” said Terence Collier, Fasig-Tipton’s director of marketing and lead announcer. “This is the last sale that he was deeply involved with before his death. To the very, very last day of his life, all he was worried about was ‘How is the sale going?’ I, in my own mind, and I’m sure many of us in the company will find it very difficult to get through the sale, but this is a tribute to Bill.”