“As good as it gets.”
That’s the five-word description for Hip 80 on Barry’s Irwin’s catalogue.
Last night, Irwin made sure his bid was good as it gets, spending $1.5 million for the daughter of Storm Cat on the opening night of the Fasig-Tipton Selected Sale. Irwin outlasted Wayne Lukas for the half-sister to Grade II winner Lil’s Lad. Consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales, the bay filly led the first session.
The leader of Team Valor still had plenty of work to do.
“Now, I get to try and syndicate her,” Irwin said, wiping his forehead at the end of night. “I didn’t really want to spend that much – I thought a million two was where it was going to be and it looked like it was going to die there, I thought I was going to get it. Once it gets above that, it’s tough. I loved Lil’s Lad, you don’t see bodies like that. I wish she was by something other than Storm Cat, so I wouldn’t have to pay that kind of bucks for her. I’m glad I got her, she’s an awesome horse.”
Irwin doesn’t look at pedigrees before the sale, he let’s the horse do the talking and the walking for him. It’s first impression that makes it for him.
“She’s as good as it gets – she’s an incredible horse. When you see a horse with a body like that, she’s got the body of a tremendous colt. Then when she walks, it’s hard to believe, there is no deviations, the pasterns are good,” Irwin said. “I did a different technique this time. Last year I got in a bidding deal with Terry Finley and his group and I don’t care for that too much, so I changed my pattern. I’m not going to tell you it because it worked so good.”
• • •
Fergus Galvin thought about opening night at Fasig-Tipton all the way back in June.
“It could be a really good week,” Galvin said. “And we might have the sales topper.”
“Yeah, a colt by A.P. Indy,” Galvin said. “He’s everything.”
At the time Galvin had called about his Irish-based jumper due to run in Thursday’s A.P. Smithwick. Salford City was exciting, but a bit of a lark. The colt by A.P. Indy was unbelievable and all business.
Hip 31 brought in seven figures, fetching a $1.2 million bid from Will Farish. The patriarch of Lane’s End Farm owns the colt’s half-sister, who is in foal to Lane’s End’s iconic stallion A.P. Indy.
Galvin and Adrian Regan foaled the colt at their Hunter Valley Farm in Versailles, Ky. Out of the unraced Broad Brush mare Pyramid Lake, the yearling is a half-brother to the stakes-placed fillies Pyramid Love and Pyrana. European millionaire and sire Peintre Celebre highlights the long list of black type in the second dam.
“It’s wishful thinking a month beforehand, but he’s so special,” Galvin said. “You market your horses to the best of your ability but we told every one of the top players he’s the best colt we ever put through our hands. In three short years of selling, we’ve put Scat Daddy through the ring, Desert Party through the ring and I put this colt right up there, even better. He’s a superstar.”
Galvin and Regan worked for the biggest names in the sport, including Coolmore and Prince Ahmed bin Salman’s Newgate, and went out on their own three years ago. They had never sold a seven-figure yearling.
“It’s great when it all comes together. We’ve had him since day one, he’s a once-in-a-lifetime colt. It makes it special, especially in Saratoga,” Galvin said. “We didn’t go totally crazy with the reserve, we thought we’d be awfully close to the million mark, to get two past it, it’s a dream come true for Adrian and me to get a hit like this so early in our careers.”
Hunter Valley consigned the colt to Keeneland November, but the bay colt didn’t reach his reserve. Galvin and Regan were thinking about bigger things down the road.
“He was a little raw and backwards as a foal, he got a little sick at the sale, we made our decision to protect him before the sale because we believe in him so much, we weren’t going to give up on this night so easily,” Galvin said. “The recognition we’re getting, we’re climbing the ladder at a pretty rapid rate, it’s fantastic. I’ve worked for some of the prominent people in the industry but it’s nothing like doing it for yourself, you put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it and you get a night like this and it makes it all worthwhile.”
Galvin’s bloodshot left eye, from a yearling’s hind foot earlier this month, confirmed that story.
• • •
Denali Stud sold the second-highest priced colt of the session when John Ferguson bid $900,000 for Hip 68, a Distorted Humor colt, the first foal out of the Grade I-winning mare Stupendous Miss.
“She’s a grand mare, we’re real pleased with the sale,” owner Jim Sapara said. “I like coming to Saratoga, Fasig-Tipton treats us well. I’ve had bigger private sales but that’s the biggest one at a sale. You look at all your horses and decide where they’ll do better, we thought it was a good venue for him and as it was he was the only colt by Distorted Humor in the sale.”
• • •
“It felt pretty good,” Fasig Tipton’s Boyd Browning said. “It was not sensational but it felt pretty good. I thought it was pretty similar to what we thought at the top end. The buyers at the top end are using more restraint in 2008 than they may have in previous years, but there were still plenty of people that were willing to bid in excess of $500,000. They use some restraint.”
As for the sales topper, Browning understands the impact of selling an offspring of Storm Cat.
“He’s a legend,” Browning said. “It’s fun to sell them and fun to watch them. There are very few who change the landscape and he’s one of them.”
Monday’s sales-topper outdid last year’s first-night high of $1.05 million.