Breed the best to the best and hope for the best. Hip 165 at Fasig-Tipton’s Saratoga Sale still has a few hoops to jump through if he is to live up to those expectations but so far so good in light of the reception given to the colt at last night’s concluding session of the boutique New York-based auction. 

By one of America’s leading sires in Curlin and bred by Spendthrift Farm out of its four-time champion Beholder, the colt is the product of parents who won eight Eclipse Awards and 18 Grade 1 races between them. Beholder herself was particularly accomplished, with her 18 wins for owner B. Wayne Hughes highlighted by two renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. In turn, she is a half-sister to perennial North American champion sire Into Mischief and the former Aidan O’Brien-trained Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn. 

We’ve experienced some magical nights at Saratoga in the past and you’ve heard me talk about the Saratoga magic – but they were nothing like tonight

Beholder was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 2022 and now 13-years-old, the daughter of Henny Hughes is also doing her bit for the family at stud as the dam of Teena Ella, her third foal who is a Grade 3 winner this year. 

Very few colts with this kind of pedigree power ever come to auction and with the physique to match his page, the strapping chestnut duly dominated the Saratoga Sale, selling out of the Taylor Made Sales consignment for $4 million to agent Donato Lanni, acting for Amr Zedan’s Zedan Racing. Zedan is swiftly becoming a major force in American racing, his colours carried to victory in recent Grade 1 events by Arabian Lion, Taiba, Princess Noor and the ill-fated disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit. Like those horses, this colt will ultimately join Bob Baffert.

The Curlin – Beholder colt sells for $4 million. Photo – Fasig-Tipton

“He looks like an athlete, and hopefully, everything goes well,” Baffert told reporters. “He’s an outstanding individual. We loved him at the barn and were very excited to get him.”

The price made him the most expensive yearling to sell at Saratoga since 2000 and the joint third highest priced lot to ever pass through the famed auction. You have to go back to 1984 for the most expensive, a $4.6 million Northern Dancer colt, followed by a $4.2 million Seattle Slew colt in 2000 and a $4 million Roberto colt, who also sold in 1984.

“It’s a long road to get to this point with a horse,” said Ned Toffey, general manager of Spendthrift Farm. “You work on matings, you’ve got to get the mare bred, get that foal on the ground – there’s so many bumps along the road that it’s very gratifying to get one to this point. And then to get one that looks like this and with that pedigree. They’re very tough to come by. 

“One of the things that really impressed me when we came up here was the feedback from people who really don’t pay much attention to pedigree who loved him purely on his physical. When I started hearing that, I started getting pretty excited.”

The Beholder colt led the way among ten million dollar lots to sell over the two days. 

His sale contributed to a record average for the evening of $566,039 and an overall figure of $488,758 for 153 yearlings sold, a rise of 4.4% from last year’s record-breaking renewal. The cumulative aggregate of $74,780,000 was also a record while the median remained the same at $375,000.

“We’ve experienced some magical nights at Saratoga in the past and you’ve heard me talk about the Saratoga magic – but they were nothing like tonight,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “It was literally spectacular from the very first hip into the ring to the very conclusion. It just goes to show what happens when you get the opportunity to sell exceptional horses that have outstanding pedigrees to an unbelievable group of buyers. It was just phenomenal. It was rewarding to see people send their best horses and then have the results and success we saw tonight.”

The Zedan – Lanni axis also paid $3.2 million for an Into Mischief colt out of All American Dream, an American Pharoah half-sister to Wind Fire, winner of the Listed Scurry and St. Hughs Stakes for Qatar Racing. Into Mischief was also responsible for a colt out of the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes heroine Rachel’s Valentina, herself the only daughter of champion Rachel Alexandra, who sold for $1.5 million to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners while veteran Tapit fired in two million dollar colts in a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Mr. Money, who made $1.2 million to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm, and a son of Grade 1 winner Paola Queen, who sold for $1.1 million to agent Mike Ryan.

The opening session was led by the sale of a Quality Road colt for $1.1 million to Alex Elliott and Ben McElroy, acting on behalf of Kia Joorabchian’s Amo Racing

While European participation was muted, the opening session was led by the sale of a Quality Road colt for $1.1 million to Alex Elliott and Ben McElroy, acting on behalf of Kia Joorabchian’s Amo Racing. Plans call for the colt, a son of Grade 3 winner I’m A Looker sold by Gainesway on behalf of breeder Stonestreet, to head to Ireland to be broken.

*Tuesday’s session kicked off with a rare offering in the form of a share in the rapidly ascendant stallion Not This Time. Based at Taylor Made Stallions, the son of Giant’s Causeway has sired five Grade 1 winners out of his first four crops, none of which were bred off fees higher than $15,000, and was one of America’s most popular stallions this year as a career-high fee of $135,000. The share went on to sell for $2 million a syndicate of five people who include Jon Green, the manager of the family-owned D.J. Stable.

Bob Baffert and Amr Zedan chat to the press. Photo – Fasig-Tipton