Eric Fein bought only one yearling at Monday evening’s opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale, but that striking chestnut son of Hall of Famer Curlin was the $1 million star of the show.
Consigned by Craig and Holly Bandoroff’s Denali Stud, as agent for Stonestreet Bred & Raised, Hip No. 45 is out of Grade 1-winning sprinter River’s Prayer (Devon Lane). The 14-year-old mare, who earned $921,958 in a career highlighted by scores in the 2007 Princess Rooney (G1), Rancho Bernardo (G3) (in track-record time) and Las Cienegas (G3), has produced three winners from five offspring of racing age.
The session topper was part of a frenetic few minutes in the Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion.
Immediately preceding those fireworks, a Medaglia d’Oro half-brother to this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) third Battle of Midway (Smart Strike) drew near the seven-figure threshold when selling for $900,000. Mike Repole and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners joined forces to secure Hip 44 from the consignment of Gainesway, agent. The bay was produced by 2010 Oak Leaf (G1) heroine Rigoletta (Concerto), whose sophomore Battle of Midway also romped in the Affirmed (G3) and just missed in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).
Late in the session, an Into Mischief colt took a run at the leaderboard as Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s Lael Stable prevailed with an $850,000 bid. Hip 98 is a half-brother to 2013 Grey (G3) and 2014 Breeders’ S. winner Ami’s Holiday (Harlan’s Holiday) as well as to the July 22 Ontario Matron (G3) scorer Ami’s Mesa (Sky Mesa). Their dam, the stakes-winning Victory Gallop mare Victorious Ami, hails from the immediate family of Canadian champion Amis Gizmo (Giant Gizmo) and Grade 3 victor Ami’s Flatter (Flatter). Warrendale Sales, agent, offered the Ontario-bred bay on behalf of Tall Oaks.
Curlin was also the sire of the top filly, and pro tempore overall leader, a $750,000 yearling snapped up by Juddmonte Farms. Sporting Hip 34 for Blake-Albina Thoroughbred Services, agent, the dark bay New York-bred is out of the Bluegrass Cat mare Purple Cat, a winning half-sister to Grade 1 scorer Sky Diva (Sky Mesa). This is the immediate family of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Pure Clan (Pure Prize).
A Malibu Moon half-brother to Royal Mo (Uncle Mo), this season’s Robert B. Lewis (G3) victor and Santa Anita Derby third, was knocked down to Woodford Racing for $650,000. Lane’s End consigned Hip 49, a son of the Saint Ballado mare Royal Irish Lass, for breeder Brandywine Farm (Jim and Pam Robinson).
Two more colts fetched $650,000 – a Union Rags (Hip 26) from VanMeter-Gentry Sales, agent, who was purchased by Robert Baker and Walter Mack, and an Uncle Mo (Hip 81) bought by John C. Oxley from Baccari Bloodstock, agent. The Union Rags colt is out of the winning Passion du Coeur (Distorted Humor), a full sister to multiple stakes victress and Grade 2-placed Distorted Passion (herself the dam of Grade 2 vixen Mrs McDougal [Medaglia d’Oro]). The Uncle Mo is a three-quarter brother to Grade 2 scorer Adios Charlie (Indian Charlie), both out of Teak Totem (Northern Afleet), a stakes-winning full sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Teaks North.
Numbers were up across the board during Monday’s trade. Fasig-Tipton reported 75 yearlings sold for a total of $24,425,000, an increase of 15.1 percent from the $21,215,000 realized by 73 at last year’s opener. The $325,667 average climbed 12 percent from $290,616, while the median shot up 25 percent, from $240,000 to $300,000.
Moreover, only 17 yearlings of the 92 who toured the ring failed to reach their reserve, for an RNA rate of nearly 18.5 percent.
“We’re obviously very pleased with the opening session of the 2017 Saratoga Yearling Sale – very encouraged by RNA rate of about 18 percent tonight, which is pretty spectacular in a select marketplace,” Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning said. “It’s certainly a very good start: average up, median up, RNA rate down. It’s kind of the trifecta that you hope for from a sales perspective.”
“It’s only halftime. A lot of work to do tomorrow night, but a really exciting group of horses to have on offer tomorrow night, so we’re very pleased at the halfway point of the sale.”
Tuesday’s concluding session likewise commences at 6:30 p.m. (ET). For complete results, updates, and live video of the auction, visit fasigtipton.com.