By Christie DeBernardis
SARATOGA SPRINGS N.Y.–While Tapit ran the ring during Monday's session with the two top-priced yearlings, it was Curlin day at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale Tuesday with a trio of colts by the Hill 'n' Dale stallion reaching seven figures. Hips 174 and 153 topped the session and the sale at $1.5 million and Hip 159 tied Monday's Tapit topper, Hip 80, at a cool $1 million.
“It's really pretty simple: quality sells,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “We had a remarkable group of horses on offer tonight and the buyers responded very favorably. You thank the consignors and the owners and breeders who provided us with the opportunity to sell a great collection of horses tonight and over the last two nights.”
A total of 135 yearlings changed hands over the two-day auction for a gross of $55,547,000 with the average hitting a record $411,459 and a record median of $350,000. Forty-seven horses failed to find new homes for an RNA rate of 25.82%. Last year, 170 yearlings sold for $62,794,000 with an average of $369,376 and a median of $300,000.
Tuesday's session saw 74 horses summon $32,772,000 with the average reaching $442,865 and the median at $360,000. Twenty-three horses were led from the ring unsold.
“I would not have dared this morning to say we would average $442,000,” said Browning. “We are thrilled overall with the results of 2019 and we will try for 2020 to recruit an even better group of horses. We think this is the greatest place in the world to sell a nice yearling. Next year we will really be busting our tails because it is the 100th anniversary of Saratoga.”
He continued, “I think we live in a very realistic market, where buyers are willing to pay what they consider to be a fair price and probably a little bit more. There is tremendous competition at the upper end of the market place. People are craving to have horses to run at Saratoga next summer or run in the Classics two years from now and they are willing to pay for them, but they have limits.”
Bloodstock agent David Ingordo, who selected one of the co-toppers, Hip 174, was one of many buyers to agree with Browning on the state of the Saratoga marketplace.
“If you have the right horse, people are paying for it,” Ingordo said. “They have high expectations here for the buyers. They have to jump through all the hoops like they always do. Fasig did a great job with their first sale here without Bill Graves helping to get good horses here like they always do.”
Conrad Bandoroff of Denali Stud, who sold two of the seven-figure Curlin colts (Hips 153 and 159), expressed similar sentiments from the seller's point of view.
“Saratoga can be tough because people have a lot of time to view horses and they almost overthink sometimes,” Bandoroff said. “But, if you bring the right horses that can withstand the scrutiny, you will be duly rewarded.”
Curlin the Color of the Day
There was a healthy debate around grounds in the days leading up to the Saratoga auction as to just which of the yearlings by Curlin would top the boutique sale and at the end of two sessions, the brilliant stallion did not disappoint. Curlin, who stands at John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farm, was represented by three of the sale's four seven-figure transactions, including the two $1.5-million co-toppers. In all, 10 yearlings by Curlin sold at Saratoga this week for a total of $8,350,000 and an average of $835,000.
The results continued a big year in the sales ring for the 15-year-old stallion, who topped the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale with a $3.65-million juvenile. His winners on the racetrack this season include Grade I winner Vino Rosso and graded winners Gladiator King, Lady Apple, Campaign, Electric Forest, Global Campaign, Tenfold, Point of Honor, and Mylady Curlin.
“It's very rewarding to watch Curlin emerge as a great sire and be justly rewarded in the sales ring,” Sikura said. “The quality of his book has increased exponentially each year. I am sure the best is yet to come on the racetrack and in the sales ring. Our association with Stonestreet and the shared success of Curlin has been one of the highlights of my career.” —@JessMartiniTDN
Partnership Hits High Note for Curlin Colt
Shane McGrath, chief executive officer of the Fung family's Australian-based Aquis Farm, came to Saratoga with a directive to find the best yearling he could. McGrath teamed with veteran bloodstock agent Demi O'Byrne and midway through Tuesday's second session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, he partnered up with Let's Go Stable and Crawford Farm and struck to secure a colt by Curlin for a co-sale-topping $1.5 million. McGrath, along with O'Byrne, trainer Todd Pletcher, and James Scatuorchio did his bidding while standing along the back row of seats in the pavilion.
“We've had Demi on board for a while and we came up here and looked at 25 colts and he said this was the one,” McGrath said. “I came up and looked at him and I agreed with him. And fortunately, Todd Pletcher loved him as well. At the end of the day, when you have the colt of the sale, you're going to have to step up and you're going to have to bat up. We're a big operation down in Australia and we want to get global.”
Based in Hong Kong, Tony Fung is in the global financial services and investment industry. Aquis assets in Australia include a $400-million luxury hotel on The Esplanade in Surfers Paradise and the Casino Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Fung's son Justin manages the family's Australian interests.
Of the Aquis's presence in the Australian Thoroughbred industry, McGrath said, “We have farms in Queensland, farms in New South Wales and we just opened a new farm in Victoria. It's a big operation in Australia. And what they'd like to do is experience world racing. We ran a horse in Dubai last year. We had a horse run really well at Goodwood last week. Justin, Tony's son, really wants to get involved in the American side of things and hopefully this horse is the catalyst.”
O'Byrne added, “I just really liked him and I love Curlin as a stallion. He'll be trained by Todd.”
The yearling (hip 153) is out of Chilean champion Wapi (Chi) (Scat Daddy). The chestnut was consigned by Denali Stud on behalf of breeders Don Alberto Corporation and Three Chimneys Farm, who teamed to purchased the mare with the Curlin colt in utero for $1.05 million at the 2017 Keeneland November sale.
“Our expectations were high,” admitted Three Chimneys' Chris Baker. “We really liked the colt. That was well beyond the reserve, but when two people who really want the horse hook up and have the resources to go, there is no telling where it will go. So to a certain extent, it's not surprising but it certainly exceeded our expectations and was well beyond the reserve.”
Don Alberto's Fabricio Buffolo added of the yearling, “We always liked him from day one. Since he was born, he was a fantastic colt. We were kind of not surprised about the price, because we always thought he was a fantastic colt who could bring a lot of money. That's why we thought bringing him to Saratoga would be a great place for him.”
The Chilean super mare, who was named champion 3-year-old filly in her native country in 2015, appealed to the South American-based principals of both partners, according to Baker.
“There was certainly an affinity for Don Alberto for her being Chilean and an Oaks and Derby winner and she was a tremendous race mare over there,” Baker said. “Scat Daddy, you don't have to say much. It's well known what he is. And the Scat Daddy bringing the speed to the cross of Curlin, the mating was very attractive as well. It was an easy thing to get excited about with two South American owners who had a great appreciation for that Chilean form.”
Wapi produced a colt by Three Chimneys' champion Gun Runner in 2019, but passed away after a recent bout with colic.
“She colicked 2 1/2 weeks ago, so she is no longer with us, but she does have a Gun Runner colt who is an exceptional colt as well,” Baker said. “So, a lot of remorse in having lost her and now we'll need to find a mare to go out and replace her. But she was on her way to being an important broodmare and maybe, through the two offspring she does have, she'll prove to be one.” —@JessMartiniTDN
Yet Another Curlin Colt Brings Seven Figures
Curlin was the talk of the town in Saratoga Springs the past few days and he did not disappoint with three seven-figure colts. Bloodstock agent David Ingordo snapped up the last of that trio of coveted colts (Hip 174) for a co-topping $1.5 million on behalf of a partnership led by West Point Thoroughbreds' Terry Finley, who signed the ticket as West Point, Siena, Woodford, Valdes Singleton, Sandbrook and Freeman. The other co-topper was also a son of Curlin, Hip 153.
“We got a really good colt for the West Coast last night, so this one will probably stay on the East Coast,” said Ingordo, referring to Monday's session-topping Tapit colt (Hip 80). “That is what we were expecting, between $1 million and $2 million. Those kind of horses are always going to be expensive. We got fortunate that they did not go crazy on the price.”
Ingordo compared the chestnut to another successful offspring of Curlin he purchased, champion filly Stellar Wind.
“He is the image of Stellar Wind in the head and the body, except in colt form,” said Ingordo, who heads Lane's End's bloodstock division. “We have obviously seen a lot of Curlins because we had him at Lane's End and got him started. A lot of his success came off our breedings and this is what the good foals look like.”
He continued, “He is what you want in a racehorse. He is real classic. He looks like the oil paintings they have upstairs.”
The colt was consigned by Arthur Hancock's Stone Farm on behalf of breeder Bobby Flay. Finley credited Hancock with selling him on the yearling.
“As you grow up in the business, you really appreciate the wisdom Arthur Hancock offers and he really liked this colt, so that really sold me,” Finley said. “Siena Farm and other people jumped in. It all just came together.”
Hip 174 is a second-generation Flay homebred and the first foal out of GSW & GISP America (A.P. Indy). The celebrity chef privately purchased his second dam, SP Lacadena (Fasliyev), and sold her for $1.3 million in foal to Bernardini at the 2015 Keeneland November Sale. Flay raced America after she RNA'd for $725,000 at Keeneland September and she won the GIII Turnback the Alarm H., closing out her career with earnings of $580,532. The mares hail from the family of GSW and blue hen Better Than Honour, who produced a pair of GI Belmont S. winners in Jazil (Seeking the Gold) and champion filly Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy).
“I don't think you ever expect something that good, but I was hoping the horse would sell well,” Flay said. “He has had a lot of interest over the past week.”
Curlin has been quite good to Flay over the past year. He sold his Grade I winner Dame Dorothy (Bernardini)'s first foal, a filly by the Hill 'n' Dale stallion, for $1.05 million at the Keeneland September Sale. The now 2-year-old named Spice Is Nice was purchased by Jacob West on behalf of Robert and Lawana Low.
“I breed to proven stallions,” Flay said. “With the kind of families that I own, I am only going to use the top families in the stud book. Curlin has proven himself to be a fantastic stallion in the past few years and people want to own his progeny, so that is the kind of stallion I am going to always use.”–@CDeBernardisTDN
LaPenta, Bridlewood Team For Curlin Colt
Four years ago, Bob LaPenta and John and Leslie Malone's Bridlewood Farm teamed up to buy future GI Belmont S. winner Tapwrit (Tapit) for $1.2 million at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale. The partners were back in action Tuesday, going to $1 million to secure one of the sessions' three seven-figure Curlin (hip 159) colts.
“Bridlewood Farm and Mr. LaPenta teamed up before,” LaPenta's racing manager John Panagot said. “We had Tapwrit, who we bought from this same sale, and we have a few current 2-year-olds together.”
The chestnut colt is out of Yes Liz (Yes It's True) and was consigned to the Saratoga sale by Denali Stud on behalf of breeder Stonestreet Thoroughbreds Holdings. Stonestreet purchased the mare as a 2-year-old for $200,000 at the 2013 OBS April sale and she was second in the farm's gold and burgundy colors in that year's Sorority S.
“Any time you get a chance to buy a Stonestreet-raised yearling, it's an extra incentive to buy,” Panagot said. “We thought he was the most well-balanced horse in the sale. We are looking for colts, but if a filly comes up, she comes up. But we were here looking for colts and we thought this was the best athlete here and by possibly the best dirt stallion in the country.”
Panagot said a trainer had not yet been picked out for the yearling.
Denali Stud consigned two of the three seven-figure yearlings to sell at Saratoga Tuesday. In all, Denali sold eight horses during the Saratoga sale for a total of $5,825,000 and an average of $728,125.
“We've been coming to Saratoga for a long time,” Conrad Bandoroff said. “We love selling here. We came into this sale thinking and hoping that we had a good group. We got some really nice feedback and compliments throughout the pre-sale inspections. I have to admit, I think this is the best group we ever brought up here. We were never not busy, which was nice. We get to work for really good people. At the end of the day, you have to have a high-quality product up here and we are very careful what we bring up here.”
Bandoroff credited the late Bill Graves, who, as a senior vice president at Fasig-Tipton, was instrumental in the evolution of the Saratoga sale, with some of Denali's success this week.
“We missed the million-dollar mark just barely last year, so this year was for Bill Graves,” Bandoroff said. “He meant a lot to our operation and we were lucky to have him smiling down. The stars aligned and that's what you need sometimes.” —@JessMartiniTDN
A Curlin for Fireman
On an evening with a seemingly endless parade of dazzling Curlins, it was somehow fitting that the initial salvo for the stallion's offspring was fired by trainer Ken McPeek, who purchased a colt by the Hill 'n' Dale stallion for $950,000 early in Tuesday's second session of the Saratoga sale. McPeek signed the ticket on the future champion at $57,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September sale.
“I bought him for Paul Fireman, the founder of Reebok,” McPeek said after signing the ticket on hip 134 out back. “He partnered in on [Grade I winner] Restless Rider (Distorted Humor) and a lot of other horses and he wants top, top quality. Paul likes playing at the high level. Of course, I bought Curlin for a little bit less, but he was a similar type horse.”
Hip 134 is out of Grade I winner Taris (Flatter) and was consigned by Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency on behalf of his breeder, Heider Family Stables.
Of the final price on the yearling, McPeek admitted, “I expected to go higher. I thought it was going to be a lot stronger than even that. I feel kind of lucky that we got him for even that number.” —@JessMartiniTDN
A Pharoah for Coolmore
Coolmore's M.V. Magnier added another yearling by the farm's Triple Crown-winning stallion American Pharoah to its roster late in Tuesday's session of the Saratoga sale when the team went to $950,000 to acquire hip 191. Out of Grade I-placed Bon Jovi Girl (Malibu Moon), the yearling was consigned by St George Sales on behalf of breeder Bryant Prentice's Pursuit of Success.
“He's a lovely horse, very well prepared,” said Coolmore's Adrian Wallace. “He came up here and jumped through all the hoops. We loved him from the moment we saw him. We are very happy to buy a horse from Archie [St George]-he always does a great job.”
American Pharoah's fast start in the sales ring has been matched by the early success of his progeny on the racetrack. The first-crop stallion has seven winners to date, including group stakes winner Maven and group-placed Monarch of Egypt.
“Obviously, it's very gratifying to see how the American Pharoahs are doing,” Wallace said. “And it's great to see how well they are running on dirt and turf. The best is hopefully yet to come. But if you had told us by the end of July, beginning of August, that he already would have had seven winners and a few stakes horses here and in Europe, I think it's fair to say it's very gratifying for the breeders who bred to him and for us who stand him. Obviously we supported him heavily ourselves, but we're looking to hopefully pick up a few more both here and in September.”
Bon Jovi Girl, who is a half-sister to champion Gio Ponti (Tale of the Cat), has already produced graded winner You're to Blame (Distorted Humor). She was purchased by Prentice for $950,000 at the 2010 Keeneland January sale.
“We had a lot of interest, he was a very nice horse and he was very well received,” said St George. “Congratulations to Mr. Prentice and his whole team. I'd like to thank Coolmore and everyone else who was interested in him. We've had him on the farm since November and he's a really special horse.”
St George added of Prentice, “He has eight mares on the farm and they are really nice mares. They breed to some good horses and we're just happy to be part of it.” —@JessMartiniTDN
Medaglia d'Oro Proves To Be The Gift That Keeps on Giving for Edwards
One of Bob Edwards' earliest racing successes was MGISW New Money Honey, a Medaglia d'Oro filly out of a Distorted Humor mare. He returned to that well when choosing a mate for his own Distorted Humor mare Veracity and the resulting filly summoned $1 million from Lael Stables at this auction last year. The Darley stalwart and Veracity provided another home run for Edwards in Saratoga Tuesday when her latest Medaglia d'Oro filly (Hip 150) summoned $900,000 from Claiborne Farm. The operation's Bernie Sams signed the ticket on behalf of a new client.
“We bought her for a client to race, who is starting in the business,” Sams said. “She fits the mold and we own the family. She is a nice filly. We sold her dam as a yearling.”
Edwards, who races as e Five Racing, but breeds as Fifth Avenue Bloodstock, was all smiles after shaking hands with Sams and Claiborne's Walker Hancock.
“This is the second baby I have out of the mare, both by Medaglia d'Oro, and I have a third on the farm now,” he said. “I got $1 million last year and now $900,000, so I will probably keep the one next year.”
Edwards continued, “We loved her. She has a really nice page and it is a live page thanks to Claiborne. She looked really good. She is a little different body type than her sister last year and her sister on the farm. We are excited to sell her. It is a lot of money.”
Bloodstock agent Mike Ryan purchased Veracity on Edwards' behalf for $460,000 at the 2016 Keeneland January Sale. Her 2017 Medaglia d'Oro filly, now named Correctness, was her first foal. Hailing from a deep Claiborne family, Veracity is out of MGSW & MGISP Yell (A.P. Indy), making her a full-sister to SW Cheery, who is the dam of MGISW Elate (Medaglia d'Oro). Veracity is also a full-sister to MSP Shrill and a half to GISP Chide (Blame) and the dam of GII Jim Dandy S. victor Tax (Arch).
“Medaglia d'Oro is a great cross with a Distorted Humor mare,” said Edwards, who consigns his horses with Indian Creek. “It worked well with New Money Honey. I met Walker [Hancock] a while back when I was looking at horses and he put me on the mare [Veracity] and they bought the horse today, so it was great.” —@CDeBernardisTDN
Best Buys Most Expensive Frosted to Date
Larry Best of OXO Equine made his presence known early in Tuesday's session when going to $850,000 for a filly from the first crop of MGISW Frosted (Hip 130), making her the most expensive progeny to date for her young sire by Tapit.
“She is just a beautiful filly,” Best said after signing the ticket out back beside bloodstock advisor John Dowd. “I like the cross with Victory Gallop. She looks the part. I don't think you can lose on her long term. She is a good buy at $850,000.”
As for the price, Best said, “I expected to go in this range. She was never in her stall. I am surprised she is still standing. I am surprised I am still standing!”
The gray was bred by Bayne and Christina Welker in partnership with consignor Denali Stud. The Welkers purchased Hip 130's MSW dam Swingit (Victory Gallop) for $50,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November Sale, carrying a foal by Bodemeister. The resulting colt brought $310,000 from Robert LaPenta's Whitehorse Stables at this auction last year and the Welkers bred to Frosted for $50,000. Swingit is also the dam of MGISP millionaire Neolithic (Harlan's Holiday). —@CDeBernardisTDN
Casse Returns to the Well
Bloodstock agent Justin Casse picked out last term's GI La Troienne S. heroine Salty (Quality Road), so it was no surprise to find him signing the $850,000 ticket for her half-sister by Into Mischief (Hip 140) in the initial stages of the second session. He signed the ticket on behalf of Team Casse and when asked to the name the client, said, “You might be able to figure it out.”
“As soon as I saw this filly, I was kind of blown away,” Casse said. “She stands over a lot of ground for an Into Mischief. The family has been good to us. I thought she was a superb athlete. Even if she wasn't a half-sibling to Salty, she stands on her own physically.”
Salty was campaigned by longtime Casse client Gary Barber in partnership with her co-breeder Chester Prince and Chris Baccari, who bred and consigned this filly. In addition to her top- level success at Churchill Downs, the bay captured the 2017 GII Gulfstream Park Oaks and summoned $3 million from Don Alberto at last term's Fasig-Tipton November Sale.
When asked if this yearling reminded him of her sister, Casse said, “A little bit. Salty had that stretch. Into Mischief usually doesn't get you that, so it must have come from the momma.”
Chester and Anne Prince bred Hip 140 in partnership with Seclusive Farm. Baccari purchased the bay filly's dam, SP Theycallmeladyluck (Dixie Union), for $60,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September Sale. She is a daughter of GSW Vegas Prospector (Crafty Prospector). —@CDeBernardisTDN
Young Keeps Busy at Saratoga
Bloodstock agent Steve Young flew under the radar during Monday's opening session, but he came out swinging Tuesday, snapping up a trio of pricey yearlings. Just a few hips into the evening, the former trainer signed the ticket on a $450,000 colt by first-crop sire Runhappy (Hip 116). A $650,000 daughter of American Pharoah (Hip 151) was next on Young's list and he saved the best for last, concluding his shopping with a $850,000 colt by Medaglia d'Oro (Hip 157), who had been one of the week's buzz horses.
“He is a terrific horse,” Young said of the Medaglia d'Oro colt. “We vetted him and bid on him as a weanling and did not buy him. The nine months have done him good and he is a super nice horse. If we want to find a fault with him, I don't know what it would be.”
As for the price, Young said, “He stands on his own merit. He is a stallion if he hits, so that is what he is supposed to cost.”
Gainesway's Brian Graves purchased Hip 157 for $470,000 at the Keeneland November Sale on behalf of his Clear Ridge pinhooking partnership. Bred by Team Valor International, the bay is out of the unraced Mineshaft mare Wide Range, who is a daughter of GSW Ivanavinalot (West Acre) and a half-sister to two-time champion Songbird (Medaglia d'Oro). Wide Range also produced GSW Mico Margarita (Run Away and Hide).–@CDeBernardisTDN
Baoma Breeding Off to Quick Start
Susan and Charlie Chu's Baoma Corporation has enjoyed standout success on the racetrack, most notably with sprint champion Drefong (Gio Ponti), but two years ago the couple decided to give breeding a try and the program was quick out of the gate with a son of American Pharoah selling for $800,000 Tuesday in Saratoga. The yearling, purchased by White Birch Farm and M.V. Magnier, is the first foal out of graded winner Super Majesty (Super Saver), who was purchased by the Chus for $475,000 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton February sale.
“We were very proud,” Susan Chu said of the results. “A few years ago, I decided to expand into breeding. I tried to buy very good broodmares and I started to get into that so much more. It is such a joy when you see the babies be born and see them with the momma in the field. We always fly to Kentucky to see our babies. And that's a totally different experience than racing. It's totally different. It is not just the passion for the sport, when you see the breeding part, I think I really like that.”
Chu continued, “This is the first baby that we had. We bought Super Majesty just because we wanted to breed to American Pharoah.”
Chu currently has 25 broodmares and plans to sell all of the resulting foals. Chu and her husband also purchased a yearling at the two-day Saratoga sale, going to $750,000 for a daughter of Into Mischief (hip 89).
“Pretty much yes, because of my husband,” Chu said of that purchase. “Charlie loves the racing. He has such passion for it-it's his dream. We hope to add her to the broodmare band. She has a very good pedigree, very good physical.”–@JessMartiniTDN
Frosted Colt Rewards Facklers
Thomas and Lori Fackler traditionally sell their Best a Luck Farm homebreds as 2-year-olds, but decided to strike while the iron was hot with a yearling from the first crop of Grade I winner Frosted and the Ocala couple were rewarded handsomely Monday evening in Saratoga. Just the sixth horse through the ring at the opening session of the Fasig-Tipton sale, the yearling (hip 7) sold for $500,000 to Spendthrift Farm.
“That was awesome for a homebred,” Lori Fackler said of the transaction. “He is an extremely athletic, very, very intelligent colt and he was that way from within a few days. He's really a special colt and we have really high hopes for him. We understand he's going to a great place, so hopefully it's a win-win for everybody.”
Of the decision to send the colt through the ring as a yearling, rather than as part of one of Best a Luck's consignments to the OBS juvenile sales next spring, Fackler explained, “It was just because it was Frosted and Saratoga–we actually watched Frosted a couple of years ago and really loved him–and we thought this might be the special place for him. It was hard to let him go, but to be able to sell one like that as a yearling, it's hard to duplicate it as a 2-year-old. A lot of stuff has to go right, even though he was one of our favorites.”
The dark bay colt is out of Flirting with Fate (Saint Ballado), a mare the Facklers purchased for $28,000 at the 2007 Keeneland November sale. The mare is the dam of GI Toyota Blue Grass S. winner Dance with Fate (Two Step Salsa).
“I just liked her look, the way she walked, and that she was by Saint Ballado,” Fackler recalled of the mare's appeal.
Flirting with Fate had another big score at the Saratoga sale three years ago when her colt by Uncle Mo sold for $650,000.
Best a Luck, which partners on some 12 mares, owns just three or four mares on its own. The Facklers picked up another of the farm's stalwart mares at that same 2007 November sale, going to $35,000 to acquire Slew's Quality (Elusive Quality). That mare went on to produce champion female sprinter Shamrock Rose (First Dude).
“Both mares were bought at the same time, which is kind of really, really lucky,” Fackler said with a smile. —@JessMartiniTDN