By Bill Oppenheim
For the past few months–during the 2-year-old sales in particular–we insisted on making comparisons not just to last year's results but to 2015 as well, as there was a dip in North American sales prices from 2015 to 2016. In today's Weekly Sales Ticker, we see that at last year's North American yearling sales, in spite of a rise of 384 yearlings (5%) catalogued, the number sold actually dropped by 96 horses (2%), meaning the clearance rate from the catalogues dropped by a little over 4%, from 64.4% in 2015 to 60.3% last year. The North American yearling sale gross dropped by $21.5-million (5%) and the average dipped by 3.5%.
Fasig-Tipton runs the first three yearling sales on the American calendar, Fasig July in Kentucky, then the storied Saratoga sale, which is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8, and the New York-bred sale Aug. 12-13. This year Fasig July catalogued 50 fewer yearlings, a 14% drop from 347 to 297, but just 11 fewer sold (6%), which meant the clearance rate from the catalogue improved by over 5%, from 52.7% to 57.9%. The gross edged up by 2% from last year in spite of the smaller catalogue, and the average rose by more than 8%, to $93,645. Click here for a list of all sires represented at the Fasig-Tipton Select and New York-Bred Sales.
Both Saratoga sales continue this pattern, with 25 fewer (10%, 227 from 252) catalogued for the main sale and just 10 fewer (3%, 296 from 306) for the NY-bred sale; for the three Fasig sales combined, there are 85 fewer catalogued, a drop of 9%, from 905 catalogued last year to 820 catalogued this year. Saratoga averages plus or minus $300,000, so if the trends hold the number sold could be in the 140's and the gross should not be far off of the 2015-16 totals of $46.7-million and $45.5-million, respectively.
The NY-bred sale has grossed around $14-million and averaged plus or minus $80,000 the last three years. When we report next Thursday (please note) we should be talking about a combined July (yearlings) plus Saratoga gross of between $60-$65 million, and the three-sale gross figures to be around $75-million, the same as last year (well, $74,999,000); anything between $75- and $80-million would be a good win.
Only five sires have 10 or more among the 227 catalogued for the Select sale. Tops is Coolmore Ashford's sire sensation Uncle Mo, with no fewer than 16 catalogued. This is his fourth crop of yearlings so, like Pioneerof The Nile a couple of years ago, don't expect too much in the way of the pages. Uncle Mo had nine catalogued in July (five sold, average $176,000), and has three more in the NY-bred sale, so is the leading sire by number catalogued over the three sales, with 28. Another Ashford sire, the late Scat Daddy, has 12 yearlings from his final crop catalogued in the Select sale. With 10 each are: Gainesway's three-time leading sire, Tapit ; Claiborne's Orb, the leading North American second-crop (of yearlings) commercial sire; and Three Chimneys's first-crop Will Take Charge, the champion 3-year-old male of 2013 and a horse with a real chance to reverse his sire, Unbridled's Song's, fortunes as a sire of sires. WinStar's More Than Ready has nine catalogued in the Select sale; Hill 'n' Dale's Curlin and Lane's End's Union Rags have eight each; and Spendthrift's Into Mischief and WinStar's Pioneerof The Nile have seven catalogued each.
Eleven sires have seven or more catalogued to the NY-bred sale, accounting for 100 of the yearlings catalogued, a little over a third of the book. Six of the 11 are first-crop sires, headed by two first-crop New York stallions, McMahon of Saratoga's Central Banker, a seven-furlong specialist by Speightstown who won the GII Churchill Downs H. and ran second in the GI Malibu S, and has 17 catalogued; and Rockridge Stud's Honorable Dillon, a son of Tapit who won the GII Hutcheson S., also at seven furlongs, and has 10 catalogued. Four Kentucky sires are also well represented: Airdrie's 'market darling', Cairo Prince (9); Hill 'n' Dale's Flashback (9), another son of Tapit, winner of the GII Robert B. Lewis and second in both the GII San Felipe S. and GI Santa Anita Derby; Ashford's Verrazano (7), one of the top 3-year-olds of 2013, when he won the GI Wood Memorial S. and GI Haskell Invitational S.; and Spendthrift's Cross Traffic (7), a son of Unbridled's Song who won the GI Whitney S. in 2013.
Three sires with their first 2-year-olds have seven or more catalogued to the NY-bred sale: Hill 'n' Dale's Violence (9), the number two freshman sire at this writing–he had three winners in a single day last Sunday; Taylor Made's Graydar (8); and Ashford's Shanghai Bobby (7). New York-based Sequel Stallions houses the other two sires with seven plus catalogued: Giant's Causeway's accomplished little brother, Freud (10); and Mission Impazible, another by Unbridled's Song. His first foals are now 3-year-olds, and he has seven catalogued.
THIS JUST IN: The catalogue for Fasig-Tipton's new Turf Sire Showcase sale, scheduled for Lexington Sunday, Sept. 10, is just out: 171 catalogued with a 4 p.m. kickoff. There is one War Front filly, seven by Kitten's Joy, and five by Scat Daddy, but the sire with the most catalogued is Spendthrift's Temple City, with 18. Coolmore Ashford's Declaration of War (has 2-year-olds, his second crop of yearlings) and Lane's End's Noble Mission (Frankel's full-brother, first yearlings) have 13 each. Besides Kitten's Joy, Claiborne's Data Link (first 2-year-olds, and, like Declaration of War, by War Front); Ashford's Magician (first crop, by Galileo, won G1 Irish 2000 Guineas and GI Breeders' Cup Turf); and Calumet's proven turf sire English Channel each has seven catalogued. There are six each by The Factor, Gio Ponti and Exchange Rate, and five each by Animal Kingdom, Elusive Quality, More Than Ready and Red Rocks. With the surge in turf racing in North America, it's an interesting move by Fasig, and will surely be well supported by turf aficionados.