The march of Gainesway's cornerstone sire Tapit through the very highest points of the North American auction market continued on Monday during the first session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale, powered by the evening's two most expensive offerings.
The duo headlined a session that posted average and median sale prices well in excess of last year's cork-popping session, and comparable to the record and near-record final returns of the 2018 renewal.
A familiar name to Tapit and his runners landed Monday's session-topper and lone seven-figure offering, Hip 80, a $1-million colt named Flightline. Buyer West Point Thoroughbreds campaigned the Tapit gelding Ring Weekend to a Grade 1-winning career and over $1.5-million in earnings, and this spring the partnership secured the colt Chestertown for an auction-record $2 million at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March 2-Year-Olds In Training sale.
For West Point's Terry Finley, the reason he keeps going back to the well with Tapit boils down to simple numbers.
“It's a data-driven business, so they kind of force you to come back,” he said. “We can advertise, we can promote, we can do everything, but they've got to run. He's done it year after year and it's a business that rewards results. He gets results.”
Monday's session-topper is the second foal out of the Grade 3-winning Indian Charlie mare Feathered, and he was bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Equine. Third dam Finder's Fee and fourth dam Fantastic Find are both Grade 1 winners.
“We'll probably have a couple partners that will come in,” Finley said. “Everything will probably come together within the next 24 hours.”
Lane's End consigned the colt, as agent.
Looking at West Point's other Tapit-related interests, Finley said OBS March topper Chestertown is pointed toward a fall debut after some minor setbacks over the summer. The colt remains in the Saratoga barn of trainer Steve Asmussen as he continues working toward his first start.
“He got pretty close to running, but just came up with a very minor issue,” Finley said. “He showed the potential that we think he has, so we're very happy. Everyone loves to win at Saratoga, but we know everything has to go right to get to Saratoga, to lead them over there, and for them to be able to outrun everybody else. He just asked for us to back up a little bit. He still trains every day and walks out on the racetrack like he owns it.”
Heider Family Stables Goes To $950,000 For Tapit Filly
Two hips after the seven-figure Tapit colt dropped the hammer, the night's second-highest price came courtesy of the same sire, with Heider Family Stables securing Hip 82 for $950,000.
It was an especially prudent score for the Gainesway consignment, which also bred the filly and stands Tapit at its Lexington, Ky., farm.
“She was an exceptional filly, both on physical and on pedigree,” said Michael Hernon, Gainesway's director of sales. “She looked the part, she showed terrific throughout the whole process. She found herself on the list of all the top buyers, and they stayed with her. You saw very live, strong bidding from some of the leading buyers.
“She obviously has great residual value, given her physical combined with her pedigree, and we feel optimistic that she'll have a lot of run,” Hernon continued. “Tapit's been known to get a good filly or two.”
Bloodstock agent Donato Lanni signed for the winning buyer, an operation led by Scott Heider. The stable's standout runner at the moment is Grade 1 winner Mia Mischief, campaigned in a partnership that includes Sol Kumin's Madaket Stables.
The filly is out of the winning Seeking the Gold mare Pension, whose six foals to race are all winners. Among them are Grade 2 winner Annual Report, stakes winner Giant Payday, and stakes-placed Flores Island.
The second dam is Grade 1 winner Furlough, while other prominent names on the page include Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Dancing Spree and Grade 1 winners Fantastic Find, Finder's Fee, Bigger Picture, and The Liberal Member.
Beyond sharing a sire, Monday's two most expensive offerings hailed from the same extended family. The two female families meet at multiple Grade 2 winner Blitey, an Ogden Phipps homebred who is the fifth dam to the session-topping Hip 82 and the third dam to Hip 82.
Radcliffe Lands Medaglia d'Oro Filly For $900,000
The first horse to flirt with the seven-figure mark during Monday's session was a Medaglia d'Oro filly who sold to bloodstock agent Kerri Radcliffe for $900,000.
“She's very special,” Radcliffe said. “She looks like an athlete, by a great sire. She's got a beautiful head.”
Radcliffe said the purchase was made on behalf of a large, multi-membered partnership. She also confirmed that the filly would remain in the U.S.
Bred in Kentucky by Breeze Easy, the filly is from the family of Grade 2 winner Two Step Salsa and Grade 3 winners Very Special Lite and Strategic Partner. The Breeze Easy partnership of Mike Hall and Sam Ross bought Light The City in foal to American Pharoah for $600,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale.
Eaton Sales consigned the filly, as agent.
The transaction extended what has been a fertile ground for selling sons and daughters of Darley stallion Medaglia d'Oro. The stallion had a trio of seven-figure sales at last year's Saratoga sale, including the sale-topper at $1.35 million and the second-highest bid-getter of the sale at $1.3 million.
At the end of Monday's trade, a total of 61 horses had changed hands for revenues of $22,775,000, down 21 percent from last year's kickoff session when 83 yearlings brought $28,965,000.
While bulk figures were down, the average and median sale safely outpaced the first session of 2018. The average of $373,361 was a 7 percent improvement, while the median of $315,000 marked a 5 percent increase. The buyback rate finished at 28 percent, compared with 22 percent during last year's comparable session.
“It was an outstanding opening session to the 2019 Saratoga sale,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “I thought we saw very competitive bidding throughout the evening, and lots of quality horses walked through the sales ring tonight. There was a lot of strength and a lot of diversity in that buying bench.
“We said all the week leading up to the sale, we were very confident coming into the sale,” Browning continued. “We thought we had a very good catalog. We're coming off a record sale last year, and it's hard to continue significant growth once you reach certain levels. I think the results were in-line with our expectations based on the feedback we got from the sale grounds this week from buyers and sellers alike.”
To view the full results from Monday's session, click here.
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