The second, and final, evening of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale of yearlings picked up where the first night left off. Eager to ensure they did not miss out on a promising crop of fillies and colts, buyers were more aggressive on Tuesday evening, which was exemplified by the fact three of the first six horses were sold for over $625,000, while it took nearly 40 horses the night before to break that threshold. The more aggressive bidding led to a decreased Reserved Not Attained (RNA) rate which declined from 30% on Monday night to 22% Tuesday evening. In total, 135 horses were told over the two days for a total of $55,155,000 ($408,556 average) and there were some durable trends over the two days as well as items to look forward to in the future. Let’s dive into the five takeaways from the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale.
- The money keeps rolling in from all directions. Aside from the more aggressive bidding on Tuesday night, the evening featured the single biggest sale over the two days—$2.6 million. That’s right. Hip 168, a bay colt who is the product of Into Mischief and Paoloa Queen, went for the hefty sum. Tuesday also saw the first, and only, $1 million filly during the sale, Hip 160, who is the product of Quality Road and Above Perfection. In all, three horses broke the million-dollar mark on Tuesday night and the average sales price rose by nearly $100,000 over those of Monday. Now, while those figures might seem absurd, they’re nowhere near record-setting as the most expensive yearling, Seattle Dancer, was purchased back in 1984 for over $13 million dollars. In proof that you can’t pay for results, Seattle Dancer only won two races in his career and was a modest stud success. The new owners of Hip 160 and 168 certainly hope their yearlings end up with a better career.
- Tapit, Quality Road, and Into Mischief have big nights. In yesterday’s blog, I talked about the financially lucrative stud success of Uncle Mo, but on Tuesday night we saw a trio of stallions—Tapit, Into Mischief, and Quality Road—have quite a night and overtake Uncle Mo in terms of high-end sales. Certainly, a great deal of the equation is the quality of the dam and her lineage, but all three horses have distinguished themselves as being active and effective stallions. While Tapit may not have the quantity of yearlings sold this week, his reputation, particularly in New York, is well-known since his progeny have won four of the last eight Belmont Stakes, including 2021 winner Essential Quality. The top sires by sales (minimum of four sales) are shown in the chart below.
|Sire||Yearlings Sold||Total Sales||Average Sale|
|City of Light||7||$2,995,000||$427,857|
- Grandfathers matter…a lot. While an appropriate amount of attention should be focused on the sires, there were some obvious trends as to which sires of dams were most effective at ensuring their genetics were passed down. In particular, Bernardini and Medaglia D’Oro both were the grandsires to yearlings that averaged over $500,000 per sale. However, stallions such as Malibu Moon, Scat Daddy, Smart Strike, and Dixie Union all demonstrated consistent value as a dam sire, which interestingly was perhaps Secretariat’s greatest stud legacy. It’s not often a horse is able to pass his greatness along to the next generation, but somewhat more regularly you will find his mares give birth to amazingly productive and profitable racehorses. As some of the younger stallions mentioned in the item above start to see their fillies become broodmares it will be interesting to track whether their genetic attributes are passed down as effectively as Bernardini, Medaglia D’Oro, and others.
- The rich get richer. It’s hard to tell who all the buyers were over the last two days because many of the entities listed under the purchaser category are LLCs, but there were some familiar names. Madaket Stables purchased five yearlings with West Point, Quarter Pole, and Mayberry Farm each buying four. My Racehorse continued to make a sizeable investment and, through partnerships with other stables and farms, purchased five horses over the two days. While I spent some of yesterday’s blog touching on the benefits of My Racehorse in terms of growing the sport, it’s important to examine the origins of the horses sold over the last 48 hours. 82% of the horses sold at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga were Kentucky-bred from massive farms like Gainesway. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but it does continue to show how there are a limited number of buyers and sellers in this space and when one of their yearlings shows promise there is a very short list of trainers: Asmussen, Baffert, Brown, Cox, and Pletcher that will get the call. You might be able to get 0.001% stake in one of the horses, but the names controlling the sport aren’t changing any time soon.
- Some of the auctioneers and announcers need work. This seems like a completely ridiculous takeaway to end on unless you know my background. For five years, from the age of 13 to 18, I served as a professional wrestling ring announcer for my father’s independent professional wrestling promotion—Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling. Ever since then, I cast a critical eye and ear on announcers and emcees since it’s something I learned to do well and in which I took great pride. Anyone watching the sales could realize the second pair were a significant cut below the other two. In the offending pair, the announcer was frequently stumbling over words, hesitating in mid-sentence, and having to correct his own misstatements about facts and figures. Meanwhile, his auctioneer partner was atrocious and seemingly got into a spat with those bidding at least once every three horses while the other two auctioneers at the event were able to resolve disputes calmly and coolly without resorting to speaking down to the guests. I realize virtually nobody else will care about this, but for me it was like listening to nails on a chalkboard. Fasig-Tipton, I humbly offer my services any time you may need them.
So, now what? First thing first, these yearlings will get names and no longer be called by their hip numbers. Once they do, it will be interesting to track their development over the next year as we anticipate their racetrack debuts next summer at races like the Samford and Best Pal Stakes that feature the best two-year-old thoroughbreds in the country.
However, remember Seattle Dancer showed us, money can’t buy success. For that reason, I’ll be closely watching and rooting for Hip 133, a bay filly from Oscar Performance and Lovely Island. Why? Because she was sold for 80,000, the second-lowest price at the sale, immediately after Hip 132 sold for $1.4 million. I like rooting for the little guy (and girl) in this sport and hope she goes onto an impressive career.
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