Million-Dollar Curlin Colt Paces Strong F-T Saratoga Opener

The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale got off to a strong start Monday evening, with a colt by Curlin attracting the night’s top price of $1 million during an opening session with figures up across the board.

In all, 75 yearlings sold Monday for a total of $24,425,000. The average was $325,667–up 12.1% from last year’s opening session–and the median was up 25% to $300,000. With 17 horses reported not sold, the buy-back rate was 18.5%.

“We are obviously very pleased with the opening session of the 2017 Saratoga Yearling Sale,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr. “We saw across-the-board strong competition for almost all of the lots and we were very, very encouraged by the RNA rate of about 18% tonight–which is pretty spectacular in a select marketplace of this nature.”

The evening’s top two priced yearlings sold back-to-back, with Mike Repole and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners teaming to purchase a colt by Medaglia d’Oro (hip 44) for $900,000 from the Gainesway consignment. Just one hip later, bloodstock agent Ian Brennan, bidding on behalf of Eric Fein, went to a session-topping $1 million to secure a colt by Curlin (hip 45) from the Denali Stud consignment.

“The nice horses are bringing the money and they deserve to bring it,” Brennan said of the Saratoga market. “You have to pay for the nice ones.”

Consignor Hanzly Albina agreed the market was very competitive Monday.

“It’s very strong,” Albina said. “People have money. There are a lot of good domestic buyers, so I think it is a great sale.”

Monday’s top 10-priced lots were purchased by eight different buyers, with Juddmonte Farms making the biggest splash while buying four yearlings for a total of $2.1 million. Gainesway was the leading consignor with 10 yearlings sold for $3.065 million.

“There is a lot of work to do tomorrow night, but we have a really exciting group of horses to offer tomorrow,” Browning said. “It’s only halftime, we’ll wait until tomorrow night concludes, but certainly it was a very, very good start. The average was up, the median was up, the RNA rate was down. So that’s the trifecta that you hope for from a sales perspective.”

The Saratoga sale concludes with its second session beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Curlin Colt Sells for Cool Million

Just a few moments after a Medaglia d’Oro half-brother (Hip 44) to Battle of Midway (Smart Strike) summoned $900,000, a Curlin colt (Hip 45) set off another round of fireworks in the Humphrey S. Finney Pavillion, selling to Eric Fein for a session-topping $1 million.

The chestnut is out of GI Princess Rooney H. heroine River’s Prayer, who earned $921,958 on the racetrack and concluded her career with five straight wins, including the Princess Rooney and a pair of Grade IIIs. Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings bought the mare for $1.5 million at the conclusion of her career at the 2007 Keeneland November sale.

“We have a couple out of the mare and the mare is really nice,” said Ian Brennan, who was buying on Fein’s behalf. “We are pretty happy to get him. Eric has stepped it up a bit and is going to buy a few nice horses.”

Fein, a native New Yorker who works in the insurance business, has owned the likes of MGSW Msuket Man (Yonaguska), who was third in the 2009 GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S., and, more recently, GISP “TDN Rising Star” Syndergaard (Majesticperfection).

The Curlins proved quite popular at Saratoga Monday evening with a filly selling for $750,000 (Hip 34) and another colt (Hip 37) bringing $400,000.

“Curlin has been super,” Brennan said. “You can’t go wrong with Curlin, especially out of a mare like that.”

Bred by Stonestreet, Hip 45 was consigned by Craig and Holly Bandoroff’s Denali Stud, who also consigned the topper at last year’s renewal of this auction.

“You never expect it,” Craig Bandoroff said of the price. “He is a beautiful horse by a real sire out of a good mare, but the stars have to line up. We are just blessed to work for good people. Nobody breeds a better horse or raises a better horse than Stonestreet. We have to do our part, but we can’t do it without them.”

Bandoroff added, “He showed over 200 times. They wore him out, but those kind have to come here fit. They have to withstand the pressure and he did. Every day he settled into it more and more and once he knew what his job was, he did his job.” —@CDeBernardisTDN

Medaglia d’Oro Colt to Repole/Eclipse

Mike Repole and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, who both have horses in training with leading conditioner Todd Pletcher, have been looking to team up on a racing prospect and finally got their colt when paying $900,000 for a son of Medaglia d’Oro during Monday’s opening session of the Saratoga sale.

“We share the same trainer and we think if we team up we can make him a better trainer,” Mike Repole joked as Eclipse Thoroughbred’s Aron Wellman signed the ticket on hip 44.

Repole added, “Jim Crupi had him on his short list for me, he was in love with his pedigree. Aron and I have tried to buy a few horses together, but we’ve been outbid a few times. They are good guys, we always root for each other at the track, so hopefully this colt will work out for us.”

The bay colt is out of 2010 GI Oak Leaf S. winner Rigoletta (Concerto) and is a half-brother to this year’s GI Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Battle of Midway (Smart Strike).

“He’s a beautiful colt, he’s extremely athletic with great scope and size,” Wellman said. “He’s out of a mare that was extremely talented–a Grade I winner–she’s a quality mare and she’s already thrown a Grade I quality colt in Battle of Midway, who was in the Classics this year. So he really was the complete package.”

The yearling was bred by Eric and Pavla Nygaard’s Thor-Bred Stables. The Nygaards purchased Rigoletta as a 2-year-old for $35,000 at the 2010 OBS April Sale.

Battle of Midway, the mare’s second foal, sold for $410,000 to Fox Hill Farms at the 2015 Saratoga sale.

“This result was extra special because we raced the mare,” said Pavla Nygaard, who sold a colt by Pioneerof the Nile for $950,000, third-highest priced at last year’s Saratoga sale.

“We have had very good luck at Fasig sales. We also bred [GISW] Klimt and sold him at the July sale. Fasig does a really good job and Gainesway has been consigning for us and they’ve done a great job for us.”

Asked if the two half-brothers shared any similarities, Nygaard said, “There are similarities and there are some differences. They are both very well-bodied horses. And they are kind of beautiful in a rugged kind of way. They are beautiful, but they are not pretty, if that makes any sense. They have beautiful bodies and they are very athletic. They are strong and powerful. So in that way they are similar.

She continued, “But in their personalities, they are a little bit different in that Battle of Midway was always very curious and he would get into everything and was always getting into trouble. And I think he is still like that now. This guy was much more laid back. One of the things that I have always loved about the mare is how smart she is. She has past that on to all of her foals, so they are aware and know what is going on. And he has that same presence about him.”

Rigoletta has an unraced 2-year-old by Medaglia d’Oro and has an Empire Maker weanling. She is currently in foal, under a foal share with Gainesway, to Tapit.

“The Empire Maker colt at her side is really beautiful in my opinion,” she said. “He has more Empire Maker in him, so he is the most refined looking colt that she has had. But he still has that same curiosity.”

Juddmonte Busy Buying Fillies for Arrogate

Juddmonte Farms’s Garrett O’Rourke was quite busy during Monday’s opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, scooping up a trio of pricey fillies with the long term goal of breeding them to Juddmonte’s champion Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song).

The highest-priced filly of the group at $750,000 was Hip 34, a Curlin filly out of Purple Cat (Bluegrass Cat), who is a half-sister to Grade I winner Sky Diva (Sky Mesa) and MSW and GISP Quick Little Miss (Freud). This is also the family of MGISW Pure Clan and MGSW Greater Good.

“She’s a real classic filly, a real athlete,” O’Rourke said. “Looks like something that could be a real [GI Kentucky] Oaks filly and, thinking long term, a mate for Arrogate.”

As for the price, O’Rourke said, “I was pushed to my very, very limit. I thought I’d get her for a little less, but you know when they are that nice, you have to be prepared to go for a little bit extra. I thought she was that nice. She is a very special filly.”

Hip 34 was consigned to the sale by Blake-Albina Thoroughbred Services on behalf of breeder Newton Anner Stud.

“[The price was] definitely in the wheelhouse [of what we expected],” Hanzly Albina said after thanking O’Rourke. “When you get up in these big numbers, it is really hard to pin down an exact number. We have had a lot of vetting action on this horse. A lot of the big players as you would expect at this level. I knew she was a very good filly.”

O’Rourke made his presence known earlier in the evening, securing a Congrats filly (Hip 5) for $400,000. Out of SW and GSP Maple Syrup (American Chance), the bay is a half-sister to Group 3 winner Golden Century (El Prado {Ire}) and MSW and GSP Maple Forest (Forestry). Bred by Blue Heaven Farm, the filly was consigned by St George Sales.

“She looks like a very fast filly,” O’Rourke offered. “With her pedigree and her looks, she really, really suits breeding to Arrogate. That is the ultimate purpose of these if they can be the racehorses that we expect them to be for the prices we are paying for them. Obviously, we are delighted to be coming home with them. You spend a lot on them, but if you are very happy with the individuals going in, you have to be brave.”

Rounding out the trio of fillies was Hip 38, a Pioneerof the Nile filly out of GSP Rashnaa (Tapit). Consigned by Taylor Made Sales, the bay was bred by Town and Country Horse Farms and Pollock Farms. O’Rourke broke his pattern to take home an Orb colt, purchasing Hip 12 for $375,000.

O’Rourke also offered an update on “TDN Rising Star” Arrogate, last seen finishing a lackluster fourth in the GII San Diego S. July 22. Trainer Bob Baffert reported the superstar was back to his usual self after a stellar work last week and is pointing to the Aug. 20 GI Pacific Classic.

“He’s got good energy,” O’Rourke said. “Bob’s obviously staying with the horse because he is totally focused on getting him back to his very best. We will hold or breathe going through the Pacific Classic, but all the vibes are exceptionally good. We are feeling very confident that we are getting him back to his brilliant best and that we will see the Arrogate of old.”


Lael Stables Strikes for Well-Related Into Mischief

Roy and Gretchen Jackson of Lael Stables came out on top of a spirited round of bidding to acquire Hip 98, a well-related colt by hot sire Into Mischief, for $850,000. Bred in Ontario by Tall Oaks Farm, the bay was consigned by Warrendale Sales.

Out of SW Victorious Ami (Victory Gallop), Hip 98 is a half-brother to GSW Ami’s Holiday (Harlan’s Holiday) and stakes-winning “TDN Rising Star” Ami’s Mesa (Sky Mesa).

“I liked everything about him,” an elated Gretchen Jackson said as her husband, Roy, signed the ticket. “He was pretty perfect. His conformation was excellent and his walk athletic. His pedigree is also strong. The cross between Into Mischief and his dam was the perfect A++ for nicks. We loved him.”

When asked if the price was what she expected, Jackson said, “Never. We always go out of control. I hope he will prove that we were right.”

The colt will be trained by Arnaud Delacour, who also trains the Jacksons’s GSW and GISP Divining Rod (Tapit) and MGSW turfer Hawksmoor (Ire) (Azamour {Ire}). The best known horse to carry the Lael Stables colors is their ill-fated 2006 GI Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro (Dynaformer). —@CDeBernardisTDN

Colt Provides Quick Return for VanMeter

Tom VanMeter purchased a colt by Union Rags for $105,000 as a short yearling at the Keeneland January Sale earlier this year and enjoyed a quick return on the investment when reselling the youngster (hip 26) to Robert Baker and Walter Mack for $650,000 early during Monday’s opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale.

“He was a horse we were planning on pinhooking; we bought five or six nice horses and got outbid by all of our cohorts out here on a lot of other nice horses that they are selling tonight,” VanMeter said.

Of the yearling’s appeal in January, VanMeter said, “First of all, we loved the sire. We think Union Rags can be the next whoever. Every weekend, he has four in a stakes. So we were excited about that. And the individual was just well-made and from a good family. The 2-year-old Quivery (Violence) gave us a big update–she’s won two and is running in a Grade II. So all of those elements came together and he was prepped well by Renee Dailey and our staff.”

Bred by Elm Tree Farm, the yearling is out of Passion du Coeur (Distorted Humor), a full-sister to multiple stakes winner and multiple graded stakes placed Distorted Passion.

Quivery, a $360,000 OBS March juvenile purchase this spring, is now two-for-two in England for trainer Jeremy Noseda and owner Marc Keller.

“We were hoping for $250,000 coming in, but it started to feel better than that,” VanMeter said of the colt’s final price tag. “We could feel it coming together. He had 10 or 12 scopes today. All the right guys, all the right people, were on him.”

Uncle Mo Colt to Oxley

John Oxley made his first foray into this year’s Saratoga market Monday a winning one when making a final bid of $650,000 to secure a colt by Uncle Mo from the Baccari Bloodstock consignment.

“He was perfectly made and he’s by Uncle Mo,” Oxley said after signing the ticket on hip 81. “He has a nice pedigree below and he was my favorite in the sale.”

The yearling was bred by SF Bloodstock, which purchased his stakes-winning dam Teak Totem (Northern Afleet), with him in utero, for $250,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November Sale. Chris Baccari purchased the colt for $250,000 at last year’s Keeneland November sale.

Teak Totem is the dam of multiple graded stakes placed Adios Charlie (Indian Charlie) and multiple stakes placed Streakin’ Mohican (Songandaprayer). She is a full-sister to multiple Grade I winner Teaks North and a half to multiple graded stakes winner Wooden Phone (Pick Up the Phone).

Oxley returned later in the session to secure hip 111, a filly by Uncle Mo, for $600,000 from the Eaton Sales consignment.

Cairo Prince Colt Rewards Brogden

Carrie Brogden admits she has a bit of a thing for mares by Unbridled’s Song.

“I have 33 Unbridled’s Song mares, actually I have to unfortunately cull two this year even though I don’t want to,” Brogden said.

The broodmare sire was the primary appeal when Brogden went to $55,000 to secure Unbridled Mistress (Unbridled’s Song), in foal to Cairo Prince, at the 2016 Keeneland January Sale. The mare’s Cairo Prince colt (hip 91) duly rewarded Brodgen’s faith when selling for $420,000 to Cromwell Bloodstock Monday at Saratoga.

“I just bought her because she was by Unbridled’s Song,” Brogden said of the mare, who was 14 at the time. “I loved the mare and I had talked to the farm manager and he said she had had beautiful foals in the past.”

Unbridled Mistress, a full-sister to stakes winner Uninhibited Song, is the dam of multiple stakes placed Soft Whisper (Bernstein). She in currently in foal to Into Mischief.

This wasn’t Brogden’s first involvement with the family. She purchased a colt by Bellamy Road out of the mare for $62,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November sale and resold him for $50,000 at Keeneland the following September.

“The Bellamy Road was beautiful, but it was at the time that Bellamy Road was starting to fall out of favor,” Brogden explained.

There were no such worries about Cairo Prince, whose first crop of yearlings have already proved popular in the sales ring this year.

“I have four or five Cairo Princes,” Brogden said. “I actually didn’t breed to him myself. I kind of missed the boat there. But we bought three mares in foal to him and I bought several weanlings by him because I was so impressed by him. And I remember him as a short yearling at Archie St. George’s. I remember he was the best-looking short yearling himself in the entire sale.”

The colt has been promising from day one, according to Brogden.

“Ever since the day he was born, he’s been exactly what you’ve seen,” she said. “He’s never been sick, never turned a hair, never had any issues. I stuck my neck out a little bit on this guy with the advertising, but I can’t think of a better physical that we have bred. We’ve raised some unbelievable physicals, to me it’s a lot easier to buy a superstar horse than it is to breed them in a lot of cases. Everything fell in line with him and I’m so thrilled.”

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