Here in Lexington -- yes, sadly, I didn't rate a trip to the Spa! -- signs of change are evident at Fasig-Tipton. Since the company's acquisition by Dubai-based Synergy Investments 15 months ago, the sales facility on Newtown Pike has received an impressive face lift and a well-coordinated marketing campaign has elevated the Fasig-Tipton brand.
While I can't comment on the Saratoga facility, I can at least note that the 2009 Selected Yearling sale catalog reflects the "new" Fasig-Tipton's pursuit of greatness. The sale attracted an unusually strong group of royally-bred yearlings, and buyers rose to the occasion -- despite a rough economic climate -- to lift the first-night gross by more than 40% over last year's figures. Amazingly, five hips were bid to seven figures in the first session last evening, with four selling for $1 million and above. That compares remarkably well with last year's million-dollar numbers, when three yearlings sold at this level after both sessions of the two-day sale. (Read more about the first session: Mo Momentum: Sheikh Boosts Saratoga Sale.)
The obvious story today is Bernardini (SRO). His first-year stud fee of $100,000 was, unbelievably, a bargain for the sellers of his seven foals to sell last night. He accounted for three $1 million-plus sales in addition to the auction's top bid (a $1.6 million RNA), and averaged $721,429 (median $700,000). We won't know for sure if he's the true heir of A. P. Indy (SRO) until his foals hit the track, but make no mistake -- yearling buyers this year are convinced he's the one.
A perhaps slightly less obvious story line is set to play out this evening. Tonight, you see, is "international night" at the auction house.
It's apparent that Fasig-Tipton is becoming more of a global player. Two hips in this select sale especially reflect that reality.
First up will be hip #167, a bay filly by Germany's über-sire Monsun (GER) (SRO) out of the mare La Victoria (FR). We've discussed Monsun a few times in this blog (here and here and here) and it's exciting to see his bloodlines here in the U.S. at a prominent sale. La Victoria is an interesting mare, as well. The producer of a graded-placed horse in her first foal and a good miler in her second (the latter still running in France), La Victoria represents the 22-b family of Street Sense (SRO). In fact, the relationship is rather intriguing: both Street Sense and La Victoria descend in tail-female from Lianga (his fourth dam, her third); both come from the Northern Dancer damsire line; and both have sires whose granddams were by Riverman.
Next offered will be hip #200, a bay colt by Encosta de Lago (AUS) (profile) out of Nicole and Krista (IRE). Encosta de Lago is to Australia what Storm Cat and Deputy Minister were to the U.S., and what Sadler's Wells and Danehill were to Britain: the dominant line of Northern Dancer. (Encosta de Lago, by the way, is by Sadler's Wells' full brother Fairy King. He descends from arguably Northern Dancer's best daughter, Fanfreluche.) Nicole and Krista doesn't have the most impressive of pages close up, as she is a once-placed runner out of a minor stakes-winning, non-stakes-producing mare. One step back in the dam line, however, brings in plenty of bold black type. Third dam Amya (FR) produced back-to-back French classic winners Agent Double and Air de Cour. Her daughter Egine -- Nicole and Krista's dam -- was a close genetic relative to the dam of Breeder's Cup Classic (gr. I) champion Arcangues; both were by Irish River (FR) out of daughters of family 8-f mare Ad Gloriam (FR).
So to Fasig-Tipton, job well done -- and please continue to search for top foreign bloodlines for upcoming sales.
Recommended reading: Pedigree Power in Saratoga Catalog in the Hammer Time blog.