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Sheikh Mohammed amid Tokyo umbrellas on Japanese Derby day May 2011

Sheikh Mohammed: supported progeny by Darley sires at Fasig-Tipton

  PICTURE: Masakazu Takahashi  

Sheikh accounts for quarter of Fasig turnover

NOT EVEN dark clouds, intermittent rain showers and radical volatility in world financial markets could dampen buyers' spirits at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, which concluded on Tuesday night with increases in all major categories.

Spurred onward by Sheikh Mohammed, who acquired seven more yearlings to add to the six he collected on Monday, sale turnover rose to $32,892,000 for 103 horses sold, compared to $32,515,000 for 118 sold in 2010.

Yet buyers stepped forward on both days with unexpected enthusiasm, pushing the average price up by 15.9 per cent to $319,340, compared to $275,551 last year, while the median price rose 4.2 per cent to $250,000. The percentage of horses not sold fell from 28 per cent to 22 per cent.

A handsome son of Bernardini consigned by Mill Ridge Sales, agent for Kentucky breeder Nancy Dillman, topped Tuesday's session and ranked as the joint-highest priced yearling of the overall sale when Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock adviser John Ferguson made the final bid of $1.2 million.

Clearly pleased with the purchase, a smiling Sheikh Mohammed shook the hands of Ferguson and Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford after the auctioneer's gavel fell.

"Sheikh Mohammed loved him because he's really athletic - he's a horse that can really move," said Ferguson of the bay out of the Carson City mare Easter Bunnette. The colt is a half brother to Grade 1 winning filly Havre de Grace, an earner of more than $1.5 million to date, and Ferguson said he probably would be sent to Europe to race.

"I thought he was exceptional," said Mill Ridge's Headley Bell. "He was really a special athlete, beautifully balanced and so agile, and he has the pedigree to match."

Two yearlings crossed the $1-million threshold at Saratoga, with the other a Medaglia D'Oro half brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver sold to Sheikh Mohammed on Monday for $1.2 million. In 2010, only one horse reached that level.

Overall, Sheikh Mohammed spent $8,530,000 at Saratoga, an amount equal to 25.9 per cent of the total sale gross. With his acquisitions making up eight of the top ten sellers, his average price per horse was $656,154, and he and Ferguson clearly preferred to put his dollars on Darley-sired offspring as they acquired six by Bernardini, three by Medaglia D'Oro and two by Street Cry.

American trainer Dale Romans, who conditions Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford, bought the second highest priced yearling of the Tuesday session, acquiring a gray son of Unbridled's Song out of Grade 1 winner Dream Supreme, by Seeking the Gold, for $775,000.

Consigned by Lane's End as agent for Kinsman Farm, owned by heirs of the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, the colt is a half brother to Grade 1 winner Majestic Warrior and two other stakes winners.

"I think he has the best pedigree in the sale and he looks like he could be a stallion prospect," said Romans, who plans to form a partnership including Texan Mike Rutherford to race the colt. "He has tremendous upside."

Final figures from Tuesday's session were 54 yearlings sold for $16,737,000. Average price was $309,944, median reached $225,000 and the percentage of horses not sold was 19%.





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