'Magic of An Auction Process': Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age Sale Ends on a High

Informed Patriot | Fasig-Tipton

by Christina Bossinakis & Stefanie Grimm

LEXINGTON, KY-Up until its final moments, the Fasig-Tipton July Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale unfolded much like last year's edition of the summer auction. Consistent trade throughout, but with the majority of the bidding action leaning toward the more accomplished offerings. That was until Informed Patriot (Hard Spun), a last-minute supplement to the sale, blew the doors off proceedings when drawing a $1.55-million final bid from agent Ibrahim Rachid, acting on behalf of HRH Prince Saud bin Salman Abdulaziz.

“Quite a way to end a horse sale,” enthused Fasig-Tipton President and CEO Boyd Browning, Jr. “You know, it just goes to show you the magic of an auction process.”

He continued, “The horse literally ran [third in the GIII Indiana Derby] Saturday. [Consignor] Taylor Made called [owners J. Kirk and Judy Robison] and Steve Asmussen and asked, either that night or Sunday morning, 'hey, would you consider adding the horse to this sale?' [Taylor Made] talked to me Sunday morning and I said 'we'll get it in.' We had to make sure we could get the horse shipped down here and he started showing this morning. He did all the vetting on the horse with pictures and walking videos and so forth. It goes to show you just what can happen when several people are in a very competitive mode to buy quality horses. It was a tremendous way to literally finish with a bang. That would be an understatement today.”

According to Browning, the more fluid methods for selling horses has changed the landscape of selling in recent years, which has helped grow rewards for both buyers and sellers.

“The last horse through the ring in February sold for $2 million and this was the last horse through the ring and they were both supplements, which I think shows you the evolving nature of the world that we live in,” Browning explained. “People want action. They want to have the opportunity to buy a unique piece or to buy something that's special. So obviously, we were thrilled with the last horse, but even before that, it was a day of really solid trade. A lot of activity for those horses.”

When asked about the slightly scaled back catalog from last year, Browning explained, “We always had fewer horses this year. And that's a function of the success of digital sales. I think that there's a time and a place for horses. Some are better suited for digital sales and some are better suited for live sales. That's really what we're here to do, is to serve the marketplace. We're pro digital and pro live sales. I think we saw some of that magic today and I think we saw some of the magic of a digital horse sale last week.”

At the end of Monday's session, the HORA figures of the 2023 edition of the sale were largely on par with this year's session, despite the smaller catalog in 2024. This year, a total of 65 horses sold for $6,708,500, averaging $103,208 and with a median of $62,000. Last term, 144 realized gross figures of $14,052,000 with an average of $97,583 and a median of $60,000.

“The world's changing, people are becoming more engaged and there's more ways to reach people,” Browning said. “It wasn't just one or two people bidding on that last horse. There was significant activity above a million dollars from at least four bidders on a horse like that.”

In regard to the strong participation from the international buying bench, Browning added, “[The Middle East] is an area that we've identified as having an increase in dirt racing. And the one thing that is clear is that the best dirt race horses in the world come from the United States.”

Looking ahead to Tuesday's select yearling session, Browning was pragmatic.

“I always go into the first yearling sale of the year with jitters,” he admitted. “The 2-year-old sales just ended and people are going to get into the yearling mindset. I think we've got a group of nice, physically conformed horses. It's a good group. We're excited to roll them through and see what happens.”

He continued, “The activity on the sales grounds has been good. There's always a bit of trepidation. And there's always a bit of, frankly, fear. Fear is the greatest motivator of all. When you start off a new sales cycle, you're always worried people are going to comment and what's the attitude going to be. I think that we've seen on the sales grounds Saturday, both on race horses and yearlings, a lot of activity. I'm encouraged by today's results and look forward to the continuation of the momentum tomorrow.”

Informed Patriot Brings $1.55M, To Head to Saudi Arabia

As the final horse of the afternoon strode into the ring, it appeared that things would wrap up swiftly and with little fanfare. Think again. Cataloged as Hip 523, Informed Patriot (Hard Spun) certainly looked the part, however, it was likely his recent form that pushed it over the edge. With the day's action churning along at a steady pace throughout the afternoon, it was clear that something was about to happen when the 3-year-old strode into the arena.

In a moment, the bidding rose at an accelerated rate, with no less than four bidders in the melee, including three Saudi Arabian groups and the price surpassed the $1-million mark in a flash. When the dust had settled, however, it was Ibrahim Rachid, the bloodstock agent representing HRH Prince Saud bin Salman Abdulaziz, who won the day, slamming the door on the others with a $1.55 million final bid. The sale represented a record figure at the July Sale.

“I had told [Prince Saud] that the reserve would be around $500,000 and he asked that I get him on the phone when [the bidding] gets into that range,” explained Rachid. “He was on the phone with me the whole time. I can't bid over that amount without his permission. But he kept telling me to go. He said to go for it, don't stop at all. The Prince had been waiting for him and he got him. I looked at 20 horses and this was the only one we wanted.”

Ibrahim Rachid | Fasig-Tipton

Campaigned by J. Kirk and Judy Robison, the $90,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase won the Bathhouse Row Stakes earlier this spring and just this past Saturday, the Steve Asmussen trainee showed speed before finishing third in the 1 1/16-mile GIII Indiana Derby at Horsehoe Indianapolis. Winner of two of 10 starts to date, the Gainesway Thoroughbreds and Whisper Hill Farm-bred colt has earned just under $350,000 to date.

“He's a good-looking horse,” Rachid said, when asked about the colt's merits. “And the prince chose him.”

“He is a good, clean horse. It just so happened that two princes wanted him, so he went for that money. I just think he was the best horse in this sale.”

When asked what the longer-term plan was for his latest purchase, Rachid said next year's G1 Saudi Cup would be the ultimate goal.

“Of course, that will be the goal for him,” he said. “Maybe he'll be able to handle that distance over there. We will see. Good luck to him.”

As for the immediate future, Rachid outlined, “The horse will go to quarantine for 35 days and then he will be sent to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I'll ask the prince what the plans are for him, and he might stay here for a few weeks and then we ship him to Saudi Arabia.”

The connections have already reaped the rewards of this sale, paying $255,000 for a son of Quality Road at the 2022 edition of the sale. On the board in three of four U.S. starts, Scotland Yard won the 2023 Listed King's Cup and was second in that race this year for trainer Nicholas Bachalard.

“The prince also bought Scotland Yard from this sale as well and we did very well,” Rachid said. “We've had success with Fasig-Tipton before, we have a very good relationship with them. So we try our very best every year to buy horses here.” —@CBossTDN

Audible Colt Cats By Five To Dubai For RRR Stables

Trainer Doug Watson, shopping the Fasig-Tipton July Horses of Racing Age Sale for the first time Monday, picked up 3-year-old graded-stakes placed Cats by Five (Audible) (hip 454) for $400,000 on behalf of RRR Stables, an operation owned by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi. Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, the colt is a half-brother to GIII Whitmore Stakes winner Bob's Edge (Competitive Edge) and to SW Watch Me Burn (Hold Me Back), and out of a half to GSW/MGISP Restrainedvengence (Hold Me Back), SW B G Suavecito (Suave) and GSP Latent Revenge (Latent Heat). He will be bound for Dubai after a career in America which saw him finish second in the GIII Chick Lang Stakes and third in the Bachelor Stakes just in the last three months.

“Usually we buy them privately, but I'm on holiday and I said, 'I'll come down here and see,'” said Watson, standing with bloodstock agent Conor Foley, who signed the ticket. “He's a very nice horse, maybe cost a little bit more than we'd hoped, but he's very nice. He'll go into quarantine for the trip over and we'll give him about six weeks to relax after a busy season.”

Doug Watson and Conor Foley | Fasig-Tipton

Watson, an eight-time leading trainer in the UAE who spent several years in Dubai as an assistant to Kiaran McLaughlin, noted that the colt would be prepped for their winter racing carnival in December.

“He's a 3-year-old trending [up] and hasn't stretched out yet, so who knows? I think six [furlongs] will be his game,” Watson said.

Evidenced by his stakes-placed speed, Watson and Foley agreed that the colt would be a good fit in the Middle East program.

“With the form that he has here, it's got to translate. You've got to have speed. He's a real nice horse, real athletic looking and I'm excited,” said Foley.

Cats by Five, bred in Kentucky by Westwind Farm, brought $575,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September. He was raced by Three Chimneys Farm and trained by Steve Asmussen. Most recently second by a neck in allowance company June 21, his earnings are now over $157,000.

Speaking after the sale, Mark Taylor of Taylor Made Sales was pleased to see the colt sell so well.

“I think he sold well, but I also think that the buyer got a very nice horse,” Taylor said. “He ran unbelievably well last time out and, just getting beat a nose, he kept the condition. So he could've gone anywhere you want and he was also a beautiful horse on the end of the shank. He's a very, very exciting racehorse.”

There was plenty of appeal for Taylor Made's owners to bring horses to the racing age sale ahead of the Fall yearling sales.

“Connections think 'let's turn this horse into cash going into the yearling sales.' It's such a good jumping-off point. Buyers can look for horses to go run at Saratoga, Del Mar or Kentucky Downs, wherever you would want to go,” Taylor said.

Taylor had reason to be looking forward as, in addition to hip 454 early in the session, Taylor Made also consigned the $1.55-million sales-topper Informed Patriot (Hard Spun) (hip 523) as the last hip through the ring.

“The sale's been really great so far,” he said. “We've been conservative with our reserves. Sellers acknowledge that, while these horses aren't bad, they're claiming horses. And they don't want to squeeze every nickel out of them. It's up to the buyers to settle it out in the ring. I think that's a healthy way to approach it at the sales and you end up getting more anyway.” @SGrimmTDN

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