You could say that buyers at the 99th annual Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale weren’t horsing around. For the second year in a row, the annual auction of yearling Thoroughbreds, which ran from August 5-6 and draws horse enthusiasts and bidders from all over the world, set a number of new records in both average and median sale prices.
Leading those record-breaking figures this year was a pair of colts sired by Curlin, a two-time Horse of the Year winner and winner of the 2007 Preakness Stakes. Both of the sons of Curlin topped the sale on August 6 when they were auctioned for a staggering $1.5 million each. That price shattered last year’s single-sale record of $1.35 million. Aquis Farm AUS (an Australian-based horse racing company), Let’s Go Stable and Crawford Farm all teamed up to purchase the first colt. The other yearling was bought by a Saratoga-based racing partnership manager and creator, West Point Thoroughbreds (WPT) and its team of partners, which included Siena Farm, Woodford Racing, Valdes Singleton, William Sandbrook and William T. Freeman.
“These are the kind of horses that you dream about,” says Terry Finley, West Point Thoroughbreds’ President and CEO. “When you’re dealing with horses at this level, if and when they hit, they can change your life, and, most importantly, the lives of our partners.” Located on Route 9 in Saratoga, WPT is a kind of horse racing hedge fund that purchases yearlings and two-year-olds at auction and then builds and manages groups of investors into syndicates who essentially buy “shares” in each horse. Those syndicates, or partnerships, can include really anyone who’s interested in the sport, both experts and newcomers.
In fact, one of those WPT partners who went in with Finley on that $1.5 million yearling was celebrity chef and Food Network regular Bobby Flay. “I’ve always admired Flay, and I love his restaurants in the city, especially GATO,” says Finley. “I’ve gone there quite a few times, and if Bobby’s there, we inevitably end up talking about pedigrees and sales and racing.” In fact, more than just a casual partner at WPT (and a regular at Saratoga Race Course), Flay actually owns the mare that gave birth to Curlin’s record-breaking yearling that WPT and its partners wound up acquiring.
In all, 135 yearlings were sold at this year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale for a grand total of $55,547,000. That equals an average price of $411,459 per horse, a more than 11 percent increase over last year’s average and a 7 percent increase over the previous record of $385,259, which was set in 2001.