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Editor’s Note: The piece below was written the evening of the first session of the Saratoga select yearling sale. At the second session on Tuesday night, a filly by War Front (Danzig) out of a half-sister to Will Take Charge and Take Charge Indy brought the sale’s high price of $1.25 million.

A tale of two fillies was the centerpiece of the opening session at Fasig-Tipton’s Saratoga sale of selected yearlings on Monday evening. Both were daughters of leading sire Tapit (by Pulpit), and they shared a few other common traits, besides being the only two yearlings to break into a seven-figure sale price in the first session of the two-day auction.

Both fillies are gray, like their famous sire, and both showed presence and personality that attracted bidders looking for star quality. Both also sold near the end of the session. Hip 69 was the Tapit out of Rote, a winning daughter of Tiznow, and Hip 81 (of 82 hips the first night) was the filly out of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner She Be Wild.

The Rote filly sold for $1 million, and it was no great surprise that she was going to bring a lot of money. But the crowd’s reaction to the bidding was so enthusiastic that Fasig-Tipton’s announcer Terence Collier was kept busy trying to quiet the applause and general hubbub.

Both daughters of Tapit showed a spirited demeanor in keeping with the lively atmosphere at the strong Saratoga sale opening.

They are not identical, however. The Rote filly is a darkish gray at this stage and quite robust, with more bone and body than some colts. She stands over a considerable amount of ground and shows a lot of the influence of her dam, a powerfully made broodmare by Horse of the Year Tiznow, who is one of the biggest stallions in Kentucky.

Both fillies received their fair share of the Tapit good looks, and that helped add some quality to the Rote filly. In contrast, the She Be Wild filly is a lighter gray, nearly white already, and while she is not a pixie, Hip 81 is as refined and pretty as a porcelain statue. She brought a little more money in the ring: $1,150,000.

Both fillies were very popular with yearling inspectors, and they spent little time in their stalls over the past few days. The Rote filly showed a lot of power at the walk, getting over the ground smoothly and with good extension. The She Be Wild hardly seemed to touch the ground. She was quick and alert to all the novelty of the sales barns, ever keen on observing her world.

The two session-topping fillies were not the only popular horses on the grounds by any means. There have been scores of lookers inspecting the young prospects for a good crowd of potential buyers, and Fasig-Tipton’s results spoke to the efforts of their inspectors and consignors to present a pleasing group of young horses.

Overall, the quality and physical appeal of the yearlings is quite high, and in that emphasis on the individual and perhaps a selection of the individual in preference to pedigree, this Saratoga yearling sale has much in common with Fasig-Tipton’s approach to stocking its July sale of select yearlings in Lexington.

To my eye, the Saratoga sale over the past decade has struggled to supply the premium yearling physicals that come with super-select yearling pedigrees. That’s really not a great surprise. American breeding has gone through a 35-year voluntary culling of many of its most desirable and deeply commercial families.

Literally thousands of yearlings representing those deep and highly desirable families have been dispersed around the world.

Many have gone to Ireland, Japan, and to buyers from the Middle East. And most of those buyers are collectors, rather than sellers.

As a result, there are entire families whose famed branches are no longer part of the American sales or American breeding. Fortunately, there are a handful of breeders here in the States who are actively collecting some of these lines, both domestically and abroad, and there are a few breeders that never sold much.

One of the most popular representatives of a line that has been among the best American families since its acquisition from Europe 60-odd years ago was Hip 53, a dark bay filly by champion Blame out of the stakes-placed mare My Mammy.

The filly’s dam is a half-sister to G1 winner Bandini, the third dam is G1 winner Hail Atlantis (by Seattle Slew and dam of the important sire Stormy Atlantic), the fourth dam is Flippers (Belmont Stakes winner Coastal), the fifth dam champion Moccasin (Nantallah), and the sixth dam is Rough Shod. This is the great Claiborne family from which has sprung Nureyev, Sadler’s Wells, and numerous top performers and producers.

George Bolton bought Hip 53 for $285,000; so she is likely to race domestically and retire to breed on in Kentucky.

And on that positive note, let us repeat Mr. Dickens’s phrase: “It was the best of times….”

*The preceding post was published earlier this week at Paulick Report.

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