Frankel progeny in Saratoga have global appeal
Lot 148: Frankel colt out of US champion juvenile filly She Be WildFrankels at Saratoga sale hold worldwide appeal By Michele MacDonald 11:33AM 8 AUG 2016
Arranging a yearling sale that appeals to a broad group of high-end buyers is like making a version of the thick stew called gumbo that originated in Louisiana, said Fasig-Tipton vice president of sales Bayne Welker before the start of the Saratoga selected auction in Saratoga Springs, New York, on Sunday.
"If the gumbo is not right, you just have to keep adding a little spice," Welker noted with a smile while glancing at the sale catalogue. "And I think we have plenty of spice this year."
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The two-day sale features a pair of yearlings by Juddmonte's blazing-hot Frankel, a pair by Coolmore's Galileo, and many others by an extensive and accomplished group of first-crop sires including Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom, War Front's multiple Group 1 winner Declaration Of War and Kentucky Derby hero Orb.
"There's a buzz going on about that horse Frankel," Welker said, adding that "everyone knows" that a pair of Frankel yearlings – a colt out of American juvenile filly champion She Be Wild, by Offlee Wild, who sells tomorrow, and a filly out of multiple Graded winner J'Ray, by Distant View, who sells in the initial session – are in the catalogue.
The Galileo yearlings also offer international buyers some compelling pages to examine prior to physical inspections. They comprise an Irish-bred colt out of War Front's Grade 1-placed daughter Emerald Gold and an Irish-bred filly out of a sister to Grade 2 winner Chinese Dragon from the family of 1,000 Guineas winner Fairy Footsteps.
Another Galileo yearling colt that had been catalogued has been withdrawn from the sale.
Considering the offerings by Galileo and Frankel and adding them to the group by the first-crop sires, the Saratoga catalogue has left both European- and American-based buyers optimistically upbeat about the choices prior to the first hammer falling in the Humphrey S Finney Pavilion.
"I think the Frankel thing in general is getting everyone excited all around the world, which is fantastic," said Irish-based agent Hugo Merry, who indicated he has always found success buying American-bred or -sold horses.
"I've always been terribly lucky buying horses in America. We've bought an awful lot of good horses here over the years, so I've always come back," he added as he was working through inspecting Saratoga yearlings. "There was a bit of a knock [among Europeans] against American horses, but when you look, every year they have good horses in Europe, so I don't think it's that well founded. We're happy to keep buying American horses."
British-based agent Richard O'Gorman said the Frankel yearlings and the fact that US breeders have been buying mares by Galileo and other European-oriented sires to produce yearlings for the commercial market "definitely piques the interest of the Europeans".
"It's not just the Galileos and the Frankels," observed Tom Goff of Blandford Bloodstock, regarding the scope of this year's Saratoga catalogue.
"There are potentially interchangeable horses like Animal Kingdom, Point of Entry – I'm very keen on those – and Declaration Of War, and there are still yearlings by Distorted Humor, Giant's Causeway and Scat Daddy, who was a huge loss to the industry [when he died in late 2015] as he's had an incredible record at Royal Ascot the past few years.
"And Speightstown, too. If you work hard and if you are on the lookout for the right commodity, there are plenty of horses here and in Kentucky."
While the Brexit vote and subsequent currency fluctuations have not helped British buying power in the US, there likely will be little long-term pain, Goff predicted.
"At the end of the day, you're dealing in a luxury item, which I don't believe will be seriously affected by the currency differential between the pound and the dollar in the long term," he said. "As far as what Brexit is going to do to affect the horse racing industry, I think it's too early to say.
"I think everyone is very mindful of it, but until we get to see how these markets are going to perform over the next few months, nobody actually knows."
Spendthrift Farm owner B. Wayne Hughes said he and his team looked at the yearlings on the grounds by Frankel to see if they could fit into his racing programme – and eventually his breeding programmes in Kentucky and Australia – and he plans to continue to seek out Frankel colts, particularly, that can succeed in major markets.
"I think he's a very serious horse," Hughes said of Frankel.
"I noticed there are 17 [yearlings by Frankel] at Tattersalls, so depending on if we like their looks here, then we may go there."
The Saratoga sale sessions will begin at 6.30pm (11.30pm BST). on each day. A total of 252 horses have been catalogued.