But the 2013 sales also came in with fewer yearlings catalogued than last year and ended up selling one more horse (108).
“Given that we had a condensed catalogue, to maintain close to the overall gross we’re extremely pleased,” Fasig Tipton Director of Client Services Max Hodge said.
With just 29 yearlings not sold out of the 137 offered, the buy-back rate dropped phenomenally to 21.2 percent. Last year there were 55 yearlings not sold with a buy-back rate of 34 percent.
Although the average sale price was $295,093, the median price improved 11.1 percent ($250,000) from last year’s $225,000.
“The clearance rate was substantially better and I think that can be attributed to the quality of horses we had up here as well as the improvements in the overall market and economy,” Hodge said. “With the clearance rate going up, obviously you’re getting a higher percentage of horses sold, which would lead you to believe that your average and median would drop. But to see an increase in the median, that shows the depth of the buying pool we had up here.”
Monday’s session saw the greater expenditure, both overall and in highest auctioned yearling. The two-day sessions-topper was Monday’s Hip No. 69, a Dynaformer filly produced from the A.P. Indy mare Indy Pick, sold for $1.225 million to Three Chimneys Farm’s Robert Clay on behalf of the Borges Torrealba family from Brazil.
While Monday’s average sales showed promise by being 19.9 percent higher than last year’s Monday sales, the slower Tuesday evened things out.
Tuesday’s average sale price was $279,000, while Monday was $313,400.
Monday factored in the two seven-figure sales. Hip No. 23, a Distorted Humor filly from the family of sterling broodmare Better Than Honour, was bought by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation for exactly $1 million. Weber, heiress to Campbell’s Soup, outbid Food Network celebrity and chef Bobby Flay and others for the horse.
Tuesday’s topper was Hip No. 105, a colt from the crop of Indian Charlie (dam Queenie Cat is the half-sister to juvenile Vindication) purchased by Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton for $750,000.
Although Weber led the charge, spending $2.5 million on five horses, the boutique auction saw a broader field of buyers—buyers from all over the world who have the dough to pay off their purchase in 15 days.
Hodge agreed with Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr.’s recognition of 2013’s wider range of buyers, as opposed to one or two powerhouses dominating the auction.
“You have more people,” Hodge said. “We see a few more owners and people, who were maybe on the sidelines for a year or two, who have now gotten back in, so there’s more competition for the horses, but they are bidding with some restrain, which is OK.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, was much quieter this year than in the recent past, both in presence and yearlings bought.
Known for usually showing up in person in his private Boeing jumbo-jet, he didn’t make the trip to the Spa City this year. The sheikh’s personal buyer, John Ferguson, purchased just one yearling, Hip No. 53, for $400,000 on Monday.
Last year the sheikh bought $3.3 million worth of yearlings. From 2009–11, he averaged $8.5 million spent in each two-day auction. In 2009, he purchased seven of the nine most expensive yearlings when total sales were $52 million.
Used as a gauge for New York’s racing industry, the sale of yearlings that have never run a race reflected what sales officials have termed a “healthy market”—perhaps good news for the Saratoga Race Course. The oldest active racetrack in the United States has seen a drop in overall numbers in this year’s meet despite the celebration of its 150th season.
For the horses not sold at the Humphrey S. Finney Sales Pavilion, many could be re-offered at a later date, including The October Sale in Lexington, Kentucky on October 21–23.