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Medaglia D Oro - Saratoga 2003

Popular on the racecourse and the sales: Medaglia D Oro at Saratoga 2003

  PICTURE: Horsephotos/NTRA  


First day of Fasig defies fears as turnover rises

ON A day when the American stock market plunged 634 points, Monday's opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearlingsale defied fears and expectations, rocketing upward in all major categories while powered mostly by the zeal of Sheikh Mohammed.

As shock waves from Wall Street's stunning losses were radiating around America, Sheikh Mohammed strode on to the Saratoga sale grounds in jeans and quickly jumped into action, paying $750,000 for the second horse in the ring, a colt by Darley stallion Bernardini.

His pace never slackened, and by the time the session ended less than three hours later, his bloodstock advisor John Ferguson had signed tickets on six yearlings, all by Darley sires, for  a total of $4,125,000-or 25.5% of the overall session turnover of $16,155,000. Those purchases included the $1.2-millionsession-topping Medaglia d'Oro colt who is a half brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.

 Session turnover was up 9.5% when compared to 2010 session total of $14,750,000 for nine more horses sold, while averageprice of $329,694 rose by 29.6% and median increased by 25.3% to $285,000. The percentage of horses not sold declined from 27.5% to 24.6%.

 "I think it would probably be the understatement of the last five years, or maybe the last ten years, of my sales career to say that we're pleased with the sale results tonight," said a markedly relieved Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. "In light of the adversity we've all seen in the world's financial markets of late, I think (the sale results) demonstrate the resiliency of the participants in the Thoroughbred industry, their eternal sense of optimism, and their desire to have the very best horses in the world."

 The top-priced yearling, produced by the A.P. Indy mare Supercharger and also a half brother to Grade 3 winner Brethren, drew a wave of excited applause from a teeming crowd at the sale pavilion when bidding topped $1-million for the only time during the session.

 "Sheikh Mohammed loved the horse the moment he saw him," Ferguson said. "He's just an outstanding athlete who showed himself off time and again-he marched up and down the shed rowwithout a care in the world."

 The colt was consigned by Taylor Made Sales on behalf of breeder WinStar Farm, which had featured the colt in an internet contest for racing fans last year and gave him the name, Superfection, submitted by the winner.

  "We loved this colt from day one," said WinStar President Elliott Walden, who admitted to mixed emotions in selling the colt and suggested he would have brought a higher price in other years. "But John and Sheikh Mohammed have been very supportive of our programme every year and I hope he wins the Derby for them."

All six of the yearlings Sheikh Mohammed purchased were by Darley sires and each ranked among the top ten highest-priced offerings of the session, with three (two colts and a filly) by Medaglia d'Oro, two (one colt and one filly) by Bernardini, and a colt by Street Cry. Average price for the group was a robust $687,500.

Fasig-Tipton is owned by the Dubai-based Synergy Investments, and Sheikh Mohammed similarly boosted the 2009 Saratoga sale when he brought many trainers and associates over from Europe and pumped money into yearlings.

 Some of those same names were active again during the opening session: Anthony Stroud, who signed the $525,000 ticket for a Medaglia d'Oro colt; Blandford Bloodstock, which acquired two fillies by Bernardini and a colt by first-year Darley stallion Street Boss for a total of $830,000; trainer Mark Johnston, who bought four yearlings by Hard Spun, Street Sense, Bernardini and Tapit for a total of $1,275,000, and trainer John Gosden, who signed the ticket on an Arch filly for $250,000.

 Altogether, Sheikh Mohammed and these associates bought 15 yearlings for $6,755,000, representing 41.8% of gross.

 John McCormack, who also has engineered bloodstock transactions for Sheikh Mohammed, signed for the second highest priced yearling of the session, a $950,000 filly by Bernardini who is the first foal of Grade 1 winner Sugar Shake, by Awesome Again. McCormack declined to identify the buyer other than to say the owner is an "established client."

 "The filly really speaks for herself," he said, adding that plans call for her to race in the U.S. "I thought she was all class, a filly with great style."





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