Pioneerof The Nile colt tops Saratoga opener

Lot 111: Poineerof The Nile colt was knocked down for $950,000

Pioneerof The Nile colt tops Fasig-Tipton opener
By Ron Mitchell of Blood-Horse 11:41AM 9 AUG 2016

POWERHOUSE owners Stonestreet Stables and Coolmore Stud joined forces to buy a Pioneerof The Nile colt for $950,000 to top the first day of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearling Sale in which the results mirrored trends seen in recent public auctions.

The session-topper, named Ocean Pioneer and consigned by Gainesway's agency, was produced from the winning Stormy Atlantic mare Ocean Goddess, the dam of Grade 3 winner Ocean Knight, a Curlin colt who was purchased by Stonestreet as a two-year-old for $320,000. The Pioneerof The Nile colt was bred in Kentucky by Thor-Bred Stables.

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"He's a pretty horse, by a great stallion, and we own his brother," said John Moynihan, who buys for Stonestreet, in reference to Ocean Knight. "We thought a lot of his brother and we still do. He was one of our favorite horses here so we took a shot."

Coolmore was represented by M. V. Magnier in the transaction.

"He's one of the most beautiful horses we'll sell all year," said Brian Graves, Gainesway's director of public sales. "The pedigree is beautiful, besides the horse himself; he's by Pioneerof the Nile and bred on the same cross of American Pharoah, and he'll make some good-looking stallion. He's one of the most standout horses in our consignment."

Saratoga figures hold steady

The Saratoga sale is unique in both setting and atmosphere. Fasig-Tipton is located a stone's throw from historic Saratoga racecourse and a large throng of buyers, industry participants, and locals converge on the sale grounds to observe as the well-bred horses go through the ring. As the second yearling sale of the year, the auction is also a barometer of where the market is.

Other than the fireworks generated by the Pioneerof the Nile colt and the sale of a Ghostzapper filly who is a half sister to undefeated superstar Songbird bought by PTK Stable for $800,000 from Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency, the session experienced minor declines in most key statistical categories and an increase in the number of horses bought back.

Fasig-Tipton reported 73 horses sold for gross receipts of $21,215,000, down two per cent from the $21,745,000 total a year ago. The average fell six per cent from $310,643 to $290,616 this year, but the session median price rose from $225,000 to $240,000.

The 31 horses that did not sell represented a 30 per cent buyback rate. Last year's buyback rate was an unusually low 18 per cent when 15 of 85 through the ring didn't sell.

Fasig-Tipton president and CEO Boyd Browning Jr. said the session reflected the continued selectivity by buyers at all levels, including the very top.

"We see a market that has slightly increased selectivity," Browning said. "It's amazing to watch the sale tonight on some of the more expensive lots as some of the big players stop. There is restraint at all levels of the marketplace. They have limits. They don't bid with great, great enthusiasm and without restraint."

Browning said the day's action also reflected the common refrain that buyers said it was difficult to buy the horses they wanted and sellers said it was not easy selling.

"It was a pretty fair marketplace," Browning said. "It's no walk in the park for either buyers or sellers, but it's a reasonable marketplace."

Tapit in demand

The day's third-highest price of $750,000 was paid for a son of leading sire Tapit, who is a half brother to Grade 2 winner Corfu. Consigned by James and Torie Gladwell's Top Line Sales, the colt who had been purchased as a weanling for $390,000 from the Keeneland November sale is out of the Forest Wildcat mare Fashion Cat, a half sister to Grade 1 winner Peace Rules.

Michael Wallace, who signed the ticket, described the colt as "beautiful" and said the acquisition was one of the first horses he saw upon arrival at the sales grounds.

"We could sort of sit back and evaluate him closely from afar and he never turned a hair all week. He ticked all the boxes, as they say," said Wallace, adding that he did not know who would train the colt.

"We were very pleased," said Torie Gladwell, noting that she and her husband had hoped the colt would bring at least $600,000, considering the state of the market.

A yearling that would have been among the session toppers, a son of Galileo out of Emerald Gold consigned by Hill ‘n' Dale Sales, was bought back on a final bid of $725,000. The colt will likely be retained and raced by Glen Hill Farm, which bred him in Ireland, according to Hill ‘n' Dale's John Sikura.

"They respect him and everybody knows he's the world's best sire," Sikura said of Galileo, who stands at Coolmore Stud in Ireland. "But probably most of the people who buy his offspring are not here or not represented here tonight, so your pool of buyers is a lot thinner than it normally would be."

Additional reporting by Claire Novak and Teresa Genaro.

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