When Fasig-Tipton Co. decided to cancel its summer Saratoga yearling sales, officials from the auction house knew it would be important to reschedule them for New York owners and breeders.
That plan turned into a two-day Select Yearling Showcase combining multiple Fasig-Tipton sales to show off some of the brightest prospects in the country Wednesday and Thursday in Lexington.
The sale kicks off with a 164-hip New York-bred section full of yearlings from well-known New York families. After discussions, the decision was made to hold it in Kentucky due to travel restrictions potentially making it hard for buyers to travel to a later New York sale.
“There’s still travel restrictions in place in New York,” Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning Jr. said. “We had a mixed sale in New York that we have canceled and combined with the Midlantic sale because the reality is that I can’t go to New York today without a 14-day quarantine. It was impossible to get buyers from out of the state of New York to New York to participate in the auction process and we don’t know when those restrictions will be lifted. It was essential to provide those breeders and those people who own New York-breds a viable market and that’s what we’ve done with this showcase.”
For Browning, the New York market represents a significant part of the industry with New York-bred sales not only important to Fasig-Tipton but all of American racing.
“It’s part of our core at Fasig-Tipton, it’s part of what we are,” he said. “I would argue that it’s likely the best state-bred program of its kind in the United States. It’s critical to a huge portion of our customer base and very important to New York racing. A significant portion of the racing that takes place at NYRA is out of the New York-bred program and it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure we have a viable market and make that program as strong as possible.”
A strong group of yearlings assembled for the New York-bred section has gotten even stronger since the catalog was released. A big August of racing provided more than 50 New York-bred yearlings with updates to their pedigrees in the last few weeks.
The most well known updates are to the two yearlings closely related to Tiz the Law, who won the Grade 1 Travers Stakes in August before finishing second in the Kentucky Derby Saturday. New York-bred races can take credit for many of the updates seen throughout the section – and the sale – with multiple stakes performances in its races boosting catalog pages.
One update comes from one of the most consistent horses in Saratoga this summer – dual stakes-placed My Boy Tate. That runner and his Big Brown half-brother have provided their Bernardini half-sister, consigned as Hip 102 with Vinery, multiple updates. While Big Brown’s Slash Gordon didn’t earn black-type in his lone stakes run, the colt did finish fourth in his own Saratoga New York-bred stakes debut a little over a week ago.
Last week’s Saratoga Showcase card saw Hip 147 receive a timely update. That came from the filly’s three-quarter sister Ice Princess, who finishing second in the Fleet Indian Stakes. Outside of New York, Monmouth Park’s Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes gave Hip 120 a big boost with his dam’s half-sister Beautiful Lover finishing third, giving the stakes winner two graded stakes seconds this year.
Fasig-Tipton kicks off a sales calendar that will see buyers going to at least four sales in only a month. Consignor Becky Thomas admits she is concerned about buyer fatigue, but as both a buyer and a seller she’s thankful to Fasig-Tipton for giving New York breeders a place to sell their yearlings.
After seeing the uncertainty surrounding the 2-year-old sales, she praised Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland for working together to hold the sales.
“Thank goodness Fasig gave us a solution to all breeders to be able to have a sale,” she said. “We’re really fortunate to have a sale. When we were at our 2-year-old sale at OBS we didn’t know if our sale would happen. It was really, really scary. We had buyers defecting, they were scared … then we were on a hiatus until June to see were we going to have another sale? The April sale didn’t martialize and then we were in June with horses who should have sold in April, so during COVID our industry has bonded together and Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland have both worked really hard.”
With some out-of-state and international buyers unable to attend the Kentucky sales for a variety of reasons in these unprecedented times, Browning said he isn’t exactly sure what will transpire from buyers. However, with the quality of horses assembled both in the New York section and the overall sale, he expects having plenty of successful graduates to grace future catalog covers.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say we have some concerns,” he sad. “It would be unrealistic not to expect reduced international participation at the 2020 yearling sales despite efforts to do everything you can to be as inclusive as possible between walking videos and bidding online, but there’s just no question that the travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, whether it be here and abroad, will result in fewer international participants on the sales grounds.
“We’re cautiously optimistic but we’re also realistic about the marketplace that we’re working within as well. But [buyers can] expect to have quality competition and anticipate that a year or two down the road seeing successful sales graduates come out of the Showcase.”
The Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearling Showcase kicks off on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. with the New York-bred section leading the first 330 yearlings through the ring. The sale continues Thursday at 10 a.m. with Hips 331 – 662.