Forty Years On

- -

It’s 1973, Fasig-Tipton yearling sale in Saratoga. Forty years ago. The catalogue is right here on my desk, fished out of a bin back in Fair Hill – smells, feels and looks different than the 1963 version (and no spiral binding).

The sale lasted four nights, Aug. 7-10, and listed 264 yearlings for sale. I was 8 and may have actually been in town – Secretariat lost the Whitney to Onion the week before and I was here for that so unless the Clancys went home in great sadness, we were here or at DeRossi’s Restaurant for spaghetti or Storytown U.S.A. in Lake George.

Thumbing through the catalogue, I’m struck by the names – over and over. 

On the human side, it’s the consignors. There are seemingly dozens, from all over. Kentucky, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, California, Florida, Canada. The depth of people selling horses is astonishing. Major consignors were there (Lee Eaton and L. Clay Camp for starters), and a huge draft from Mereworth Farm in Kentucky. Windfields Farm sold 10. Pin Oak Stud offered seven. 

Virginia’s Nydrie Stud showed the depth of its operation by selling 16, all on the same night. That’s how it went back then. You were either up or down by the end of that night. Tired too.

Hall of Fame trainer Syl Veitch consigned a horse in partnership  with J.W. Hechter, agent. Buckingham Farm brought a group – to benefit the C. Mahlon Kline veterinary center at New Bolton. I hope they raised lots of money. Mary Anne Dotter, from Aiken, S.C., sold one horse (Hip 3). Woodstock Farm, home of Kelso, sold four. Tex Sutton sold several – did they arrive by airplane?

Amazing what 10 years will do. The pedigrees of 1973 yearlings register a bit more than their counterparts from 1963, though there are still a multitude of stallions represented – from Advocator to Young Emperor. In between came Buckpasser, Cyane, Damascus, Dr. Fager, Exclusive Native, Graustark, Jaipur, Majestic Prince, Nashua, Nijinsky II, Northern Dancer, Raise A Native, Round Table, Sir Ivor, The Axe II and T.V. Commercial. 

Oh, the names. It’s like a hockey fan reading the names on the Stanley Cup.

Looking for alumni, I cheated (for one, anyway) by checking Fasig-Tipton’s Hall of Fame link on the website. Hip 53 was a bay colt, bred in Florida and consigned by Waldemar Farms. The son of What A Pleasure and the Tom Fool mare Fool-Me-Not was billed as a half-brother to Jr. Bigsmoke (a stakes winner) and brought $20,000. Two years later, he won the Kentucky Derby for owner John Geer and trainer LeRoy Jolley. Hip 53 was Foolish Pleasure, a future Hall of Famer.

Hip 30 was a chestnut colt by Royal Gunner out of Show Stopper. Pedigree gurus will recognize the dam as a full-sister to Raise A Native. Really. Named Whiz Bang, the colt won once in 12 starts (at Pimlico in 1976). Hip 34 (Boldnesian-Tamerett, Tim Tam) was a half-brother to the great Tentam and went on to win six races and earn more than $183,000 for Charlie Whittingham.

A Northern Dancer colt consigned by Lewis Wiley must have drawn some attention. Named Dance d’Espoir, the Maryland-bred half-brother to stakes winner Kate’s Intent went on to win 18 races and more than $212,000. Hard on the heels of Secretariat’s Whitney loss came Hip 64, a gray colt by Nijinsky II out of Loyal Land. The dam was a half-sister to the Triple Crown winner. Imagine taking him to the sale. Mr. and Mrs. Richard Stokes did.    

Woodstock Farm’s Maryland-bred colt by Tom Rolfe out of Hem And Haw became American History, winning seven times and earning more than $250,000 for Harry Mangurian. The bay finished second in the 1976 Whitney. Derry Meeting Farm sold a filly by Cyane out of Ameriverse, a daughter of Amerigo and a half-sister to Christiana Stable star Obeah. The filly became Garden Verse, who made 78 starts and won the 1976 Molly Pitcher among others. As a broodmare, Garden Verse (simply Hip 237 back then) produced Garthorn – a winner of more than $741,000 including victories in the Stuyvesant Handicap, Hawthorne Gold Cup, Westchester Handicap and Metropolitan Mile for Bobby Frankel.

Hip 209 must have gotten plenty of looks. Consigned by Windfields Farm, the chestnut colt was by Nearctic out of the Native Dancer mare Natalma. Yes, that made him a full-brother to Northern Dancer (gulp). The Maryland-bred’s catalogue page boasted more black type than a font factory, but . . . and that’s the thing with 40-year-old sales catalogues. They don’t provide much in the way of detail. He was named Transatlantic, but that’s where the trail ended – last night anyway.