The market for proven commodities on the racetrack and strong demand for young racing prospects far outweighed a significantly soft market for broodmares during the second annual Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed and horses of racing age sale in Saratoga Springs.
A trio of winning racing prospects, including the stakes-placed Dixie Union filly Secret Union that brought $150,000, previously raced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashi al Maktoum's Darley Stable and a trio of weanlings by fashionable young or proven young sires led the way under rainy skies in the Spa city Monday.
Fasig-Tipton reported sales on 179 of the 233 horses offered for $3,363,600, up 74% from last year's total of $1,933,600 for 119 sold. The sale's average was $18,791, up 15.6% from last year's $16,249, while median slipped 9.1% from $12,000 to $11,000. Perhaps the most significant statistic of the single-session sale, buyback rate, dropped from 40.8% to 23.3%.
"What we saw today was a really strong marketplace for weanlings and horses of racing age," said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd T. Browning Jr. "The mare market was solid but it wasn't spectacular. Generally [it's] an emerging, or developing market where we're having an uptick in quality, [and] it takes a little while for the mare population to increase in its quality. So what you're seeing for the most part are a lot of the mares offered were transitional-type mares where people were selling them in order to upgrade their quality throughout the process.
"The number of people here this year compared to last year probably there were twice as many people. The grounds were shopped very hard. Consignors were extremely busy yesterday and this morning and all-in-all I thought it was a very successful exercise. This gives us something to build on, particularly with the weanlings and the horses of racing age. And the mares will come, it will just take a little time. That section of the market doesn't get built overnight in terms of quality in a catalog."
Secret Union, Hip 223 and third earlier this season behind Kauai Katie and Kelli Got Frosty in the $71,250 Road Princess Stakes at Aqueduct, sold as a racing or broodmare prospect. The 3-year-old filly out of the Dynaformer mare Barney's Mistress, who is also the dam of stakes winner Deputiformer, was purchased by Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
The Ramseys, who won major races over the weekend with We Miss Artie in the Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and Bobby's Kitten in the Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont, were not on hand for the sale but EQB's Patti Miller handled the bidding and signed the ticket. Secret Union, the winner of one of six starts and $52,668, was consigned by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, agent.
"What a great mare," Miller said outside the sales pavilion, shortly after the heavy rains Monday stopped. "I think Mr. Ramsey was willing to go to that [price], I think he hoped for less, but she had a great cardiac profile, great physical."
Miller wasn't sure if Secret Union would join the Ramsey's juggernaut racing operation, which is racking up leading owner titles at nearly all the boutique race meetings east of the Mississippi River this year, including the recently concluded Churchill Downs September and Kentucky Downs fall meets.
"He'll get her home and evaluate her," Miller said. "I called Mark [Patridge, Ramsey's farm manager] and said, 'You're going to love this mare.' Isn't she gorgeous? I just thought she was fabulous."
Secret Union went through the ring just a few minutes after the sale's most expensive weanling, Hip 220, a filly by prominent freshman sire Pioneerof the Nile, sold for $82,000 to wrap up the broodmares-broodmare prospects-weanling segment of the sale.
Consigned by Rhapsody Farm/Hidden Lake Farm, agents, the filly is out of Pulpit's Treasure, by Pulpit, and was purchased by Brendan Gallagher of the Lexington-based Frankfort Park. Gallagher said he planned to bring the filly back for next year's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale.
"The sire is doing really well and I think she's a very nice individual," said Gallagher, shopping at the Saraotga fall mixed sale for the first time. "But we gave a lot of money for her, so hopefully we'll be lucky.
Complete hip-by-hip results.