By Jessica Martini
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – A week of record-setting results continued in Saratoga when the two-day Fasig-Tipton New York-Bred Yearlings Sale concluded Monday with its highest gross in history. An action-packed Monday session was highlighted by a yearling by Arrogate–a full brother to recent 'TDN Rising Star' Cave Rock–who became the auction's highest-ever priced colt when selling for $700,000 to the bid of bloodstock agent Tom McCrocklin, on behalf of Michael Sucher's Champion Equine.
At the close of business Monday, 188 yearlings had grossed $20,175,000–eclipsing the auction's previous record of $18,566,500 set just last year. The average of $107,314 was second best in sales history, eclipsed only by the $107,512 set in 2018. The median of $74,000 was also just off the record of $76,000 set that same year.
The auction concluded with a sparkling 19.3% buy-back rate. Only the 1981 sale had a lower figure when 17.2% of horses were bought back.
During last year's New York sale, 203 horses sold for $18,566,500 for an average of $91,461 and a median of $70,000. The buy-back rate was 21.3%
“It was another record-breaking sale,” said an ebullient Boyd Browning Monday evening. “We established a new record for the gross–we exceeded $20 million for the first time in the history of the sale. We just had a wonderful week. It started last Monday evening and it continued through the last 166 hours. It's been very heartening and encouraging and satisfying. It is reflective of the quality of horses that people have given us the opportunity to sell. It is reflective of the interest and enthusiasm of the racing product and particularly here in New York. Saratoga is a magical place. It is magic for yearlings that are born in New York, it's magic for yearlings that are born in Kentucky, it's magic for yearlings that are born in Virginia that are all quality.”
Browning continued, “The grounds for both sales were stocked with high-quality physical individuals. That's a tribute to our inspection team–they do a great job. Bayne Welker, Jesse Ullery, Peter Penny, Evan Ferraro, Grant Williamson and Max Hodge have done a fabulous job identifying the right horses. It's done hand in hand with the consignors and the owners of the horses. It begins and ends with the horses.”
The hype was high in the days leading up the sale, but results surpassed many expectations.
“I thought it was going to be good, but I didn't think it would be quite this good,” admitted Taylor Made Sales Agency's Frank Taylor.
Mallory Mort, general manager of Gallagher's Stud, had his highest sale as a breeder Monday when his Not This Time colt sold for $320,000.
“There are a lot of good horses here and I think the prices are reflecting that,” Mort said. “Obviously, if they don't like them, they don't pay much for them or they won't buy them. But if you bring a nice horse here, you can see, they bring a lot of money. The economy is good–even though we have a bit of inflation–but the economy, generally, is still really good. That helps.”
Arrogate Colt Lights Up Fasig-Tipton
A colt by Arrogate out of 2011 GIII Schuylerville S. winner Georgie's Angel (Bellamy Road) might have been flying slightly under the radar coming into the New York-bred Yearlings Sale last week, but he was no secret heading into the ring Monday after his full-brother Cave Rock aired by six lengths in a 'TDN Rising Star'-worthy debut at Del Mar Saturday. Bloodstock agent Tom McCrocklin, bidding out back on behalf of Michael Sucher's Champion Equine, outlasted Jacob West, bidding inside the pavilion, to secure the prized yearling for $700,000–top price ever for a colt at the auction.
“We came in here to buy horses,” McCrocklin said back at the Eaton Sales consignment barn as Sucher got to know his newest acquisition. “We were very serious about it. We only wanted what was perceived to be the very best. He certainly fell into that category. And then when the update came, obviously the horse was the same, but we were aware that the price had changed. We were going to buy him. We went in there with the idea that we were going to buy this horse.”
Sucher has been successful on the pinhooking front for a number of years and made several high-price purchases at the 2-year-old sales this year with the intention of racing near his Florida home. McCrocklin said either racing or pinhooking were options for hip 573.
“It's undecided,” McCrocklin said of plans for the yearling. “What if the other colt wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile? Right now I think it's very likely he will be the favorite for the GI Del Mar Futurity. He has to stay sound and he has to go around two turns, but he's an Arrogate, you'd have to think he is only going to get better with distance and time.”
McCrocklin continued, “We are going to do what we do with all of our horses. We are going to get him broke and treat him like a young horse, train him and see how it pans out. [Pinhooking] is a possibility for sure. Crazier things have been done in this game. At these 2-year-old sales, people want high-end horses. They want a real deal horse and they will pay for them. I have to do my job now. Certainly it was my job to hopefully pick out a nice horse, but I also have to get him, if he was to go to a 2-year-old sale, to get him to breeze well. ”
Asked to speculate on how much Cave Rock's win Saturday might have added on to his brother's price tag Monday, McCrocklin said, “I was thinking he was going to bring $450,000 to $500,000 without the update. So it probably cost us a couple hundred thousand dollars, but that's the way this game works.”
For his part, Sucher added, “We just thought he was the best horse in the sale.”
Longford Farm Hits It Out of the Park
The $700,000 sale of a colt by Arrogate was a huge home run for Dan Burke's Longford Farm, which purchased 2011 GIII Schuylerville S. winner Georgie's Angel (Bellamy Road) with the colt in utero for $75,000 at the 2020 Keeneland November sale. The mare is one of about eight mares in the broodmare band at the Elmira, New York farm.
“I knew he would sell well,” Burke said while accepting congratulations out back along with his daughter Kathleen Schweizer. “He has just been a superstar since the moment he was born. He was born at our farm. Kathleen and I almost delivered him–we made it there about five minutes late.”
In the midst of the pandemic, Burke and Schweizer were shopping for mares remotely in 2020, with the on-site help of Michael Barnett and Troy West of Blackburn Farm.
“She and I go over the Book 1 mares in Kentucky and we really try to get stakes winners or graded stakes placed,” Burke said. “So we can forgive who they are in foal to or their sires. It was the COVID year, so we were home.”
Schweizer continued the story, “I tend to do our computer research. That's my job–to take our short list and really research the family as in depth as I can. And then we work with Mike Barnett and Troy West and other friends that we have. We had come up with our short list and Mike and Troy were in Kentucky walking all over looking at mares for us and we were just not having any luck. So I said, 'I think we need to look early in the day. That seems to be where some are slipping through.' And that's when I found Georgie's Angel and I thought she looked good.”
Schweizer continued, “We hadn't touched base again with Mike because we had already sent them over miles of Keeneland, but my father gave me a number and said, 'You can bid online to this.' This was my first solo bidding. We were bidding and there really weren't a ton of quick answers and they hammered her down and we got her. It was great, but it was nerve-wracking, too, no one had seen her.”
The team almost immediately felt better when the mare's weanling went through the ring right after his dam and sold for $210,000. The colt would sell again the following year, going to Three Amigos Racing Stable for $550,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September sale.
Burke was keeping an eye on both Cave Rock and the sales calendar as the New York auction approached.
“I knew his brother was good because he was working four Saturdays in a row, :59 from the gate,” Burke said. “I was looking at the condition book to see when he might be entered. I figured they didn't want to run him five furlongs, but there was a 6 1/2-furlong race two days before our sale. I said, 'Oh Boy.' We watched that race. He was the favorite, but still, 2-year-olds are 2-year-olds. But he ran just beautifully.”
Nyquist Colt a Remote Purchase for Stanley
Mark Stanley may have paid more than expected for a colt by Nyquist (hip 529) when his online offer of $375,000 was the winning bid for the yearling consigned by Indian Creek, but the owner was still excited by the purchase.
“In full disclosure, I was going to a meeting and set a Max Bid online of $225,000,” Stanley said. “I guess my electronic deficiencies or fat fingers caused me to add a zero to my bid, which I didn't notice until Fasig called to say I bought him. Make no mistake, he was my top choice, but at a figure somewhat less than what I paid. I'm glad I have him and will be anxious to get him started. Thank goodness someone didn't get drunk and start running up the price…I couldn't have covered that other zero.”
The chestnut colt is out of Court Dress (Speightstown), a half-sister to G1 Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed (Tiznow), as well as graded winner Witty (Distorted Humor). The yearling is a half-brother to graded placed Runnin' Ray (Street Sense) and stakes-placed Estilo Femenino (Midnight Lute).
“I liked the way the colt moved and I am a big fan of Nyquist,” Stanley said. “The Speightstown mare is a bonus. He's a beautiful colt. I like the New York program as well. I have great confidence in Jeremiah Englehart and Travis Durr and they both rated him at the top of the sale.”
Indian Creek consigned the colt on behalf of his breeder, Wildwood Farm.
“We expected him to sell really well, but he definitely exceeded our expectations by a bit,” said Indian Creek's Sarah Sutherland. “He was very well-received on the grounds. It's a great family, a very active family. He was the type who could have fit in the select sale as well, but we opted to put him here to showcase him. I think, as a breeder, you always hope these good ones can win nice races in New York and I think you have a really good shot of that happening when you bring them here.
Almost all of our full-time boarding clients support the New York-bred program with a couple of their mares, which has been great over the years. That's the case here. It will be fun to follow him.”
Pinhooking Success for Marshall Taylor
Marshall Taylor's Castleton Way pinhooking partnership enjoyed its second success of the week in Saratoga when a filly by Ghostzapper (hip 439) sold for $340,000 to the bid of Donaldson Bloodstock. Taylor had purchased the filly for $155,000 at last year's Keeneland November sale. She is out of Thin Disguise (Yes It's True), already the dam of graded winner Holiday Disguise (Harlan's Holiday), multiple stakes winner Midnight Disguise (Midnight Lute), and Grade I placed Forest Caraway (Bodemeister). The mare's colt by Into Mischief was a $400,000 weanling before selling for $850,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.
“I loved her pedigree–that was the first thing I loved, just looking at that catalogue page and everything she has coming,” Taylor said of the weanling's appeal. “There are so many fillies in the pedigree who are producing. So I knew we had that on the back end, plus she's by one of the best broodmare sires in Ghostzapper.”
Taylor continued, “As a weanling, she just had a big walk on her and that's what drew my eye to her. How she strode out and she was really a good mover. We took her back to the farm and she grew up nice and developed the right way. We got lucky. That was great.”
Taylor agreed the filly's weanling price tag was high, but he felt she would have even more appeal to the end-users who traditionally shopped the yearlings sales more than the weanling sales.
“As weanlings, there aren't a lot of end-users at the sale,” he said. “So what went through my mind that with a filly like that, there might be more people wanting her as a yearling when you are one step closer to a broodmare. And there are a lot more end-users. It was a lot of money, but I thought as a yearling, bringing her back there might be more of a buyers market for her.”
This is the first year for the pinhooking partnerships and the group has had three yearlings go through the ring. During last week's Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale, the group sold a colt by Not This Time (hip 159) for $675,000. He had been a $100,000 Keeneland November purchase. At the Fasig-Tipton July Yearlings Sale, the partnership sold a colt by Mitole (hip 29) for $82,000. The youngster had been acquired for $55,000 at Keeneland last November.
“This is the first year we've done it,” Taylor said. “It's been a great week. You can't beat it.”
Not This Time Colt Pays for Mort
Mallory Mort, who by day serves as general manager of Gallagher's Stud, enjoyed success as a breeder in the sales ring Monday at Fasig-Tipton when selling a colt by Not This Time (hip 409) for $320,000 to the online bid of Maverick Racing and Siena Farm. The yearling surpassed Mort's previous high sale, which he enjoyed in the Saratoga ring three years ago when a half-brother by Speightster to hip 409 sold for $210,000. Both colts are out of Sheet Humor (Distorted Humor), a daughter of graded winner Sheets (Scatmandu) who was purchased by Mort for $14,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November sale. Her 3-year-old daughter Sterling Silver (Cupid) is a two-time stakes winner this term and was third in the GIII Victory Ride S. in July.
“Coming up here, he wasn't quite this,” Mort said of the yearling. “But I thought he would do well, as hot as Not This Time is and having the nice update on the page. But as it went on and we saw who was interested in him and we saw how many times he was vetted–and it looked like he was passing the vet really well–our expectations went up a bit. Our reserve was way lower than that, but I had expectations he might bring somewhere in that range.”
Mort and his wife Karen have just two broodmares after selling Sheet Humor, in foal to Central Banker, for $3,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton New York Fall Sale.
“She was 10 and they start to lose value,” Mort said of the decision to sell the mare. “She had a nice maiden special weight winner, but really hadn't produced a lot yet, the Cupid filly wasn't racing yet, and we have a share in Central Banker. But I knew this colt in the barn. I figured, hopefully, if things went well, I could recoup my money there.”
Windylea Scores Again
The O'Neill family's Windylea Farm enjoyed sales success at the New York-bred sale for the second year in a row when a colt by Mendelssohn (hip 485) sold for $210,000 to the bid of Jacob West, as agent for Repole Stable. The yearling was out of Anabaa's Creation (Anabaa), a mare Kip O'Neill purchased for $50,000 at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton November sale.
“We liked the mare, we liked the page,” O'Neill recalled. “She had been a competitive racehorse and had some offspring that had run some. Unfortunately, we lost the mare about three weeks ago. She became ill and we lost her, so that was unfortunate. But we were happy to see the yearling sell as well as he did.”
O'Neill said Anabaa's Creation's in utero Mendelssohn colt was a primary reason for the purchase of the then 16-year-old mare.
“Her age limited the number of buyers on her,” O'Neill said. “It was one of those things where my dad, he was still with us at the time, said, 'You need to go buy the old mare.' So we did.
Typically we look for younger mares, but this was just something that worked out. We had sold a Mendelssohn weanling and we really liked that breeding line. We wanted to go back in and invest in the Mendelssohn and since she was carrying one, we wanted to stay in that circle so to speak.”
West also signed for another Windylea-bred during the two-day auction. The agent went to $150,000 for a colt by Practical Joke (hip 366) on behalf of Repole and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners during Sunday's opening session. The yearling is out of Mo Savings (Uncle Mo), a mare Windylea claimed for $40,000 in 2019. The mare has a Vekoma weanling and was bred back to Tacitus.