With a 12 p.m. start time meant to take advantage of this year's Monday dark day at Saratoga Race Course, the second session of the Fasig-Tipton New York-Bred Sale got off to a slow start Aug. 12, but ended with a flurry if high-priced horses, including a record-setting highest price ever achieved at the regional sale.
The sale-topper went to Larry Best's OXO Equine, who paid US$775,000 for a filly by Malibu Moon out of the Street Sense mare Savvy Sassy. The price eclipsed the record set last year, when Shortleaf Stable paid US$600,000 for a Pioneerof the Nile colt out of Score (by A.P. Indy). A record has been set for the sale in each of the last four years.
Overall, the second session saw mixed results compared to last year. Gross sales on Day 2 were modestly higher, up less than 1% to US$10,227,500 for 120 yearlings sold this year compared to 92 last year. The session average was down nearly 23% to US$85,229, compared with US$110,500 for the same session last year. The median price dropped 31% to US$55,000 from $80,000 last year.
Forty-nine horses failed to meet their reserve in the second session, compared to 35 last year.
Most figures also dropped year-on-year for the sale as a whole. Fourteen more horses sold this year than last, with 186 finding new owners and 80 failing to meet their reserve, compared to 91 in 2018. Gross sales dropped 12% to US$16.2 million and the average was down 19% to US$87,097. The overall median price also dropped from US$76,000 to US$60,000.
Despite the declines, Fasig-Tipton president and CEO Boyd Browning characterized the sale as strong.
"Every buyer I ran into was complaining they couldn't get anything bought, or they had to pay significantly more money for what they were bidding on," Browning said.
He suggested the drop in buybacks may have led to the decrease in average and median and cautioned that the 2018 sale represented an "unbelievable jump" from 2017.
As buyer Lincoln Collins put it, "The market here is like all sales now: feast or famine. The nice ones make plenty of money and the horses that fall even a little bit, there's just no one to buy them."
The feast arrived with Best's purchase of Hip 592, consigned by Winter Quarter Farm, agent, for Oak Bluff Stable. The filly was bred by Oak Bluff Stable and trainer Christophe Clément.
"I love Malibu Moon as a broodmare sire," Best said. "I look at it from a breeding standpoint. If we can win some races, that would be really special. I don't see very many Malibu Moon fillies I just fall in love with. This is one that's very athletic, that has a shot at the track, but after racing, she'll be a broodmare."
The purchase was Best's first at a New York-bred yearling sale, and he said he'd had no intention of buying.
"But I didn't have anything to do this afternoon, so I came over to look at some horses and that one caught my eye," he said. "I saw the filly for the first time two hours ago. My gut speaks to me, for better or worse."
"We made all the decisions together," said Clément of the filly's breeding. "Richard Leahy (of Oak Bluff Stables) is a very smart man. He bred Audible, and we had very good advisors—Doug Koch at Berkshire Stud in New York and Don Robinson at Winter Quarter Farm in Kentucky."