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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Little Creatures

What's important
In this world?
A little boy
A little girl

- The Pretenders - Thumbelina

The yearling sales got under way at Saratoga last evening, and, with the Sheikh of Dubai in town, did you really think that it would be anything but successful? Probably didn't hurt that Fasig-Tipton was purchased last year by a close Dubai associate of his. Nor that, in prevailing in the bidding for the three top sellers of the night, he also took the opportunity to boost the fortunes of two of his own stallions. There were two colts by Bernardini (standing at Darley for $75,000) selling for $1.3 and $1.2 million, and the session topper, a filly by sire-of-the-moment Medaglia D'Oro, also at Darley, out of Cat Dancer, which fetched $1.5 million. (This filly descends from the same family of Hard Spun, another resident in the Sheikh's den; Luiana, the third dam of Hard Spun [and the dam of champion Little Current] is the 4th dam of this filly.)

The Sheikh apparently hadn't been in Saratoga for some time, though nobody seems to know exactly when his last visit was (except that there were no slots at the harness track at the time for sure). Bloodhorse reports that he "briefly" mingled with the crowd, but made it clear he wanted Ferguson to speak on his behalf concerning sale matters (Not me baby, I'm too precious....fuck off.) But in any event, his presence clearly helped to boost the figures for the session.

With 76 horses sold for $25,470,000 (up 40.3%), average rose to $335,132. While that remained well below the record average for the sale as a whole of $385,259 set in 2001, it was a 10.7% increase over the same session in 2008. The buy-back rate remained relatively low at 28.3%. [Thoroughbred Times]
- That was quite a crowd at Saratoga on Saturday - nearly 40,000 on hand. Haven't seen any official stats, but I imagine that for a non-Travers, non-giveaway day, it has to be up there amongst the best crowds ever. But the track can handle masses like this with aplomb; I remember the time when anything over 20-25,000 meant spending a lot of time on line. Saturday required a slight change in strategy - I found lines 3-4 deep at the betting machines. That's nothing at the manned windows, but you never know who or what can be in front of you at the machines. Fortunately, the manned windows on the second floor in the grandstand just beyond the clubhouse border were virtually empty as post time approached; something for you to keep in mind for big crowd days in the future.

It felt a little strange to have to call out my bets, as I'm strictly a machine guy. It also raises the risk that I'll hear someone in front of me bet the horses that I like, which is likely to drive me off the horse, and off the line entirely....a system which has never failed me. Call it the Jay Trotter system.

24,000 more on hand on Sunday; it seems as if the sport is alive and well in upstate New York. Can't say exactly why or how in this economy, and it doesn't seem to comport with all the last minute housing specials I'm still getting from Federlin. But someone here must be doing something right.


Chalk Eating Weasel said...

I will be attending Saratoga this Friday and Saturday. Thanks for the tip about the betting windows. I too prefer the betting machines, but on crowded days one never knows when the player in front of him will be entering 50 $0.10 superfectas one at a time.

Glimmerglass said...

CNBC - which has been reporting on the F-T Saratoga Select sales - said that Sheikh Mo had not been in Saratoga in over 2 decades.

At least having bought up the former Whitney Greentree estate from McNair he at least has a place to stay. It could've been tough trying to get a room otherwise for entourage at the Adelphia Hotel ;>

My guess is the owners of Siro's (on the market since last year) would love to have Mo show up for a drink. He might be one of the few people to be able to buy a round for the entire place!

Anonymous said...

Yea - but how is the on track handle doing ? I imagine that a lot of families and groups of friends are using Saratoga as a cheap three dollar fun venue. Hang out -bring their own food and drinks - bet very little and call it an afternoon.

Anonymous said...

On track handle is up 8.3% according to NYRA.

Steve Zorn said...

Handle's up, attendance is up. Of course, the weather has been a lot better than last year's first three weeks. But it all goes to show that a focused boutique meet still can do well -- at least if it doesn't kill horses at too rapid a rate, as Del Mar seems to be doing. It's the long slog through the whole year at too many mid-level tracks that's the real problem.