Pharoahmania at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Opener

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Hip 26 | Fasig-Tipton photo

By Jessica Martini & Christie DeBernardis

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – A pair of seven-figure yearlings from the first crop of Triple Crown hero American Pharoah helped get the Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Sale off to a rousing start Monday evening in upstate New York. With the two-day auction still in its infancy, Larry Best made a session-topping bid of $1.2 million to acquire a filly (hip 26) by the Coolmore resident from the Gainesway consignment. Later in the session, American Pharoah’s trainer Bob Baffert, standing alongside Coolmore’s M V Magnier, bid $1-million for a colt by the champion from Summerfield. The two million-dollar transactions tied the total number from last year’s auction.

In all, 83 yearlings sold Monday for a total of $28,965,000. The average of $348,976 was up 7.2% from last year’s opening session and the median remained constant with last year’s record-setting figure of $300,000. During the first session in 2017, 75 horses grossed $24,425,000 and averaged $325,667.

“It was a successful opening night to the 2018 Saratoga Yearling Sale,” confirmed Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr. “You’ve got to be pleased when the gross is up 18 or 19%, the average is up 7% and the median is still equal to the record high of last year. And the buy-back rate is certainly an acceptable level of 22%. So it was a very, very encouraging start to the sale tonight.”

Seven of the top 10-priced lots Monday were purchased by separate buying interests and there were 42 horses who sold for $300,000 or over in 2018. That figure was 39 in 2017.

“We thought we had good horses and I think the buyers responded very favorably across the board,” Browning said. “This is what we’ve seen in recent years–there is very intense competition and lots of activity on most of the horses, but buyers do have limits. The sales-topper was $1.2 million and another horse brought $1 million, which is essentially in line with the sales toppers of recent years. I don’t think that’s any surprise to any of us. There was great activity between $250,000 and $750,000. So it was a very good start.”

Baffert agreed there was plenty of competition for the most-prized offerings Monday.

“Everybody wants the good ones,” Baffert said. “There is a lot of money here, but if you want to compete, you have to step up to buy them.”

The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale concludes Tuesday with a session beginning at 6:30 p.m. and, while seven of the top eight prices Monday were for fillies, Browning expects the colts to take center stage during the sale’s finale.

“We knew we were really strong with fillies, we may have been kind of heavy with fillies tonight, but we probably have a little bit stronger colt group tomorrow night.”

American Pharoah Filly to Best

Larry Best, standing alongside advisor John Dowd out back, went to a session-topping $1.2 million to add a filly by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah to his increasingly power-packed racing stable during Monday’s first session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale.

The appeal of the seven-figure yearling was simple for Best.

“I didn’t have one,” Best said in reference to the filly’s Triple Crown-winning sire. “I don’t think you can go wrong with an American Pharoah filly crossed with a Malibu Moon mare. The residual value, just on the dam’s side, is huge. I thought the price would actually go higher, but I wasn’t going to go any higher. So I was surprised I got her.”

The chestnut yearling (hip 26), out of multiple Grade I winner Life at Ten (Malibu Moon), is a half-sister to graded stakes placed Singing Bullet (Hard Spun) and her half-sister Bohemian Queen (Animal Kingdom) was an impressive debut winner at Woodbine Sunday. Bred by Adena Springs, she was consigned by Gainesway on behalf of the pinhooking partnership Blue Sky Stables, which purchased her for $500,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November sale.

Life at Ten, winner of the 2010 GI Beldame S. and GI Ogden Phipps S., was purchased by Adena Springs for $1.95 million at the 2011 Keeneland November sale. In foal to Shackleford, the mare sold to SF Bloodstock for $550,000 at last year’s Keeneland November sale. She produced a colt by Shackleford this year.

Best returned later in the session to secure a filly by Into Mischief (hip 82) for $950,000. Consigned by Denali Stud on behalf of her breeder, Three Chimneys, the yearling is out of Reve d’Amour (Warrior’s Reward).

Only in the industry for two years, Best has already made a major impact in the sales arena and on the racetrack. His OXO Equine campaigns ‘TDN Rising Star’ Brill (Medaglia d’Oro)–a $1-million purchase at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton July Sale–and ‘Rising Star’ Instagrand (Into Mischief), who was acquired for a co-topping $1.2-million at this year’s Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale.

“I only work on things I have fun with,” Best said. “And I’m having a lot of fun in racing. I’m meeting a lot of great people and having a great time.” @JessMartiniTDN

Another Saratoga Score for Graves

Before selling to Larry Best for a session-topping $1.2 million in Saratoga Monday, hip 26 was purchased by a pinhooking partnership spearheaded by Gainesway’s Brian Graves for $500,000 at last year’s Keeneland November sale.

“We thought she was a standout filly,” Graves said. “From the time we bought her, we thought she was a standout and she got a lot better. She was bought by a smart guy and a guy who buys good horses and is having a lot of luck. She was vetted 14 times here by some of the best judges in the business. We wish them the best of luck.”

Graves’s father Bill passed away in May, and Terence Collier opened the sale by dedicating the auction to the longtime Fasig-Tipton vice president. Brian Graves admitted he thought his late father was helping him Monday.

“I showed this filly to my dad at the weanling sale last year and he gave me the thumbs up,” Graves said before pulling something out of his jacket pocket. “And I had his lucky handkerchief.”

Of the filly’s final weanling price tag, second highest among pinhooking prospects at the Saratoga sale, Graves added, “We talked about a much lower number to buy her, but I went ahead with my partners Jamie Hill and Mike McMahon and Bonne Chance Farm and we formed a partnership, so we were able to push a little bit to get her.”

It was the second year in a row that Graves has been responsible for a seven-figure pinhook at Saratoga. Last year, the horseman sold a colt by Orb, purchased for $310,000 as a weanling at Fasig-Tipton November, for a co-sale-topping $1 million.

“That feels great,” he said of the accomplishment. @JessMartiniTDN

Baffert & Coolmore Return to the Well

Bob Baffert was all smiles after signing the ticket on a $1 million colt from the first crop of his first Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) on behalf of Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier, whose Ashford Stud stands the three-time Eclipse winner.

“I really like the sire. He made me famous,” the Hall of Famer said after signing the ticket out back by the walking ring. “Of the ones I have seen, I really like him. He is late foal, so he is going to change a lot. It should be for the better, so we are excited about him.”

Bred in New York by Joanne Nielsen of Sunnyfield Farm, Hip 62 is a half-brother to MGSW and MGISP millionaire Upstart (Flatter), who faced American Pharoah on three occasions. The bay was consigned by Summerfield. (Click here for a pre-sale feature on Nielsen and Hip 62).

“He is a really good horse, so hopefully he can follow in his daddy’s footsteps,” Baffert said. “It’s really exciting. It is a lot of money, but he is a beautiful horse and they had him looking great. It was like love at first sight.”

The Hall of Famer continued, “You never really think they are going to go that high, but there is a lot of excitement here and some really good horses.”

The second highest-priced horse of the evening, Hip 62 is one of 15 youngsters from American Pharoah’s first crop entered in the sale and one of seven to go through the ring Monday. Of those seven, six sold for a total of $3.22 million, including the $1.2 million session topper, Hip 26, a filly by MGISW millionaire Life at Ten (Malibu Moon).

“I have seen a lot of them,” Baffert said when asked his thoughts on American Pharoah’s offspring. “He is stamping his foals pretty well with their head and demeanor. [The colt] had a great athletic body. That is the thing we look for. I didn’t have to do a lot of thinking about him. I am glad I get to train him.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Three Chimneys Filly Proves Popular

Three Chimneys purchased Reve d’Amour (Warrior’s Reward) for $310,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale and, while that mare never made it to the races, her filly by Into Mischief (hip 82) proved popular in that same sales ring Monday night, selling for $950,000 to Larry Best’s OXO Equine.

“We’re very pleased with that sale,” Three Chimneys’ Chris Baker said after congratulating Best on the purchase. “We’ve always liked her. She’s been a special filly all along, but that [final price] exceeded our expectations. I’m glad everybody else thought as much of her as we did.”

Reve d’Amour is a daughter of Group 1 placed Smolensk (Danzig) and a half to graded winner Can the Man (Into Mischief) and multiple stakes winner Martha’s Moon (Malibu Moon).

Hip 82 is Reve d’Amour’s second foal. The 6-year-old mare produced a filly by Malibu Moon this year and was bred back to Strong Mandate.

“We have bills to pay like anybody, so ones that are like that, that we feel really have commercial appeal, we’ll sell,” Baker said of the decision to offer the yearling at the Saratoga sale. “She’s a young mare, we’ve got another filly out of her by Malibu Moon that we like a lot. So we’re going to cash in and let somebody else help us pay the development costs of proving our young mare.” @JessMartiniTDN

Verrazano Filly Passes the ‘Test’ for Bridlewood

Bridlewood Farm’s George Isaacs thought he might get Hip 105, a Verrazano half-sister to recent GI Test S. heroine Separationofpowers (Candy Ride {Arg}), for around $500,000 as bidding began to stall. However, it quickly picked up again and the determined Isaacs came out on top at $750,000.

“It looked like I was going to get her for a little less there for a minute, but someone joined the party late and put a little pressure on me,” Isaacs said. “It’s a strong sale. I’ve been right there on two other big fillies tonight. I was hoping to get one of those, but I am glad I got something done.”

Consigned by Bluewater Sales on behalf on Three Diamonds Farm, Hip 105 is out of the Empire Maker mare Shehadmefromhello. The filly’s half-sister, ‘TDN Rising Star’ Separationofpowers, won the GI Frizette S. last term and won a gritty stretch battle with fellow ‘Rising Star’ Mia Mischief (Into Mischief) to capture the Test across the street at Saratoga Race Course Saturday.

“We are always trying to buy live American families with big pedigree updates, so we have some residual protection,” Isaacs said. “But, they always have to check the boxes off with that strong physical. She’s got that for sure, in spades.”

He continued, “I guess it’s more like what’s not to like. She has a big, strong physical. Obviously, she had a very current update. She should make a lovely mare down the road, but lets hope she can run.”

When asked who might train the filly down the road, Isaacs said, “We might keep her in house. We will keep our options open. We have a pretty good farm trainer [Jonathan Thomas].”

Hip 105 is the most expensive progeny of young Coolmore sire Verrazano (More Than Ready), who won the 2013 GI Wood Memorial S. and GI Haskell Invitational S., to be sold at auction thus far. The 8-year-old stallion’s oldest foals are 2-year-olds this year and he is still waiting on his first winner. @CDeBernardisTDN

Partnerships Justified for SF, Starlight, et al

When Justify (Scat Daddy) swept through the Triple Crown this spring, he carried a host of partners on his back. Three of those partners were back for more Monday evening in Saratoga, purchasing a pair of colts who will join Justify’s trainer Bob Baffert in California. With bloodstock agent Donato Lanni acting as agent, SF Bloodstock and Starlight West purchased hip 16, a colt by Violence for $575,000. Later in the session, Lanni paid $500,000 on behalf of the same partnership for hip 50, a colt by Blame. In addition to SF and Starlight, Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables is also part of the partnership group , according to SF’s Tom Ryan.

“Clearly, Bob is a remarkable trainer and I think we put together a nice group of owners,” Ryan said. “Donato is helping us, Henry Field came up from Australia. We have Starlight involved with us and Madaket Stables are going to take a piece of this partnership as well.”

Hip 16, bred by Whisper Hill Farm and consigned by Timber Town, is out of L.A. Devine (Pulpit) and is a half-brother to stakes placed Gettysburg (Pioneerof the Nile).

“He’s just a really cool horse,” Lanni said. “He moves really well and he has a great mind. He looks fast and the sire has done well.”

Ryan added, “He’s an impressive colt. He strutted his stuff every time he came out. Every time he came out, he was forward moving. He’s a beautiful animal with good balance. We are excited about Violence, we are excited about sending him out to Bob Baffert and we’re excited that Donato loved him.”

For Ryan, the increasing number of racing partnerships just makes sense.

“Why not?” Ryan said when asked about forming partnerships. “Why not share the joy of racing horses together and why not share the upside, if there is upside? But there is also a lot of risk in racing, and why not share that as well.” @JessMartiniTDN

Carpe Diem Proves Popular in Saratoga

Yearlings from the first crop of two-time Grade I winner Carpe Diem (Giant’s Causeway) proved quite popular in Saratoga Monday evening, with four selling for a total of $1.17 million, topped by a $475,000 colt (Hip 22) bought by Phoenix Thoroughbreds. That colt was immediately followed by a $375,000 filly (Hip 23) by the WinStar stallion, who stands for $25,000.

“I had to stretch, which I hate to do for a first-year sire, but our team really liked him,” Phoenix Thoroughbreds’ Tom Ludt said. “We went after the one right after that Headley Bell had.”

He continued, “He’s throwing a beautiful horse and you have to pay for that. Hopefully it transitions into having a good heart and running down that lane.”

As for his overall impressions of Carpe Diem’s first crop, Ludt said, “They are beautiful. They are really nice-looking horses. For a first year sire, they are quite impressive, which is probably why Fasig-Tipton has so many.”

Consigned by Gainesway, Hip 22 was bred by Normandy Farm and is out of SW and MGSP Lemonette (Lemon Drop Kid). In addition to the strapping chestnut colt, Phoenix also picked up Hip 64, a $460,000 Into Mischief colt; Hip 92, a $400,000 daughter of Malibu Moon; and Hip 44, a $240,000 filly by Declaration of War.

“We will get them all down to Ocala and in the process,” Ludt said. “Over time, we will sort them out and decide where they need to go.” @CDeBernardisTDN

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