Rookie Rules – Fasig-Tipton Sales Preview

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By Katie Bo Williams

Frank Taylor summed up the market’s approach to first crop sires: “It used to be buyers would pay more for hope than they would proof. But I still think they will buy the good horses.”

Despite the accepted market trend toward a more proven product, in an offering with pedigrees and physicals as strong as Saratoga, the consensus is that first-crop sires will hold their own.

“I would say that they would hold up pretty well,” Taylor said. “There’s not a huge number of horses here and they’re nice horses. Generally, we have 10 more horses, but we might have a few that you say, ‘boy I wish they weren’t here.’ They don’t make the cut. This year, all of them are real solid physicals and we should do well. There’s probably a slight shift to the proven horses, but I still think they will pay well for the young horses.”

Fasig-Tipton agrees with Taylor’s analysis on selling first-crop yearlings.

“It’s definitely more difficult than it has been in recent history, but the ones that are here are extremely special horses with stronger female families and are by the more expensive first-year sires,” Fasig-Tipton’s Max Hodge said.

The Select Sale catalogue features yearlings by eight first-crop sires, with Street Sense, Hard Spun and Corinthian represented by about 10 horses each. Progeny by Any Given Saturday, Discreet Cat, Half Ours, Invasor and Scat Daddy are also included in the catalogue. Darley stallions Street Sense, Any Given Saturday, Hard Spun and Discreet Cat accounted for four of the five highest prices in the Freshman Sire Showcase during Fasig-Tipton July.

Fasig-Tipton’s Boyd Browning noted that while the July sale is not an absolute indicator for the Saratoga sale, it can provide insight into the direction of the market. Despite getting off to a bumpy start, the Fasig-Tipton July market held steady. The first third of the sale solely offered yearlings by first-crop sires and officials expected the average for these horses would differ from those sold in the second two-thirds.

Instead, averages were fairly similar. The average for the first session was $73,369; the second session $78,056. The first session did feature a much higher RNA rate than the second session.

Bluewater’s Meg Levy did not bring any first-season sired horses to Saratoga, a tactic that she traditionally employs, believing the sale to lend itself to a more proven product. Despite this, she encouraged buyers not to be afraid to take a risk.

“We topped the July sale with the Medaglia d’Oro,” Levy said. “Horses get to be proven so quickly, but just a couple of years ago, he was a first-year sire. I think people need to stay open minded.”

“It’s in vogue right now to say there’s an emphasis towards the proven stallions; there might be, but this is an exciting group of first-crop sires this year,” Browning said. “The first graded stakes at Saratoga was won by a (first-crop sire) First Samurai. I think we all have to keep a realistic perspective on our business and sometimes we tend to move too radically in one direction or another.”

Ultimately, in a sale that this year offers a wide variety of pedigrees, Fasig-Tipton and consignors believe that the strength of the catalogue page and the physicals will speak for themselves.