While plans for the 2020 Saratoga Race Course meet are still up in the air, plans for the annual yearling auctions that occur in Saratoga Springs during the meet are not.
On Monday, Fasig-Tipton announced that the Saratoga sales would be folded into a “2020 Selected Yearlings Showcase” to be held at the auction company’s facility in Lexington, Kentucky, on Sept. 9-10.
The company came to the decision after evaluating the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic for the last several weeks.
“Our two Saratoga auctions are tied closely to the race meet,” Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said in a release. “We desperately want to see a traditional Saratoga race meet as much as anyone. However, the details for the race meet – including whether spectators will be permitted – are understandably not finalized. We are at a point in time where we must provide our sellers with a definitive schedule so that they can make sales plans for their yearlings.”
“We are excited to offer our buyers and sellers a selected yearling venue in Kentucky. We envision this catalog will include yearlings that would traditionally fit our Saratoga Sale, as well as those that would fall in the upper echelons of our July and New York Bred yearling sales.”
The Saratoga Sale for selected yearlings typically is held on Monday and Tuesday during the first full week in August, and the New York-bred sale takes place the following Sunday and Monday.
Fasig-Tipton said they plan to return those sales to their usual dates in 2021.
Last year, Fasig-Tipton sold 135 horses over two days at the selected yearling sale for a total of $55,547,000, an average of $411,459 per yearling. Three horses sold for at least $1 million.
Tiz the Law, the current leader of the 3-year-old male division and a top contender for the Kentucky Derby, was purchased by Sackatoga Stable for $110,000 at the 2018 Saratoga Preferred New York-bred sale.
The company also holds a Saratoga Fall Sale for New York-breds in October, and still plans to hold it in Saratoga Springs this year, on Oct. 20.
“2020 has been a difficult year so far, and we are all being forced to make decisions that we never envisioned having to make,” Browning said. “We waited as long as possible to come to these determinations, conducting our due diligence to ensure that we make informed decisions that are in the best interests of our buyers and sellers.”
Browning said the Sept. 9-10 dates made sense for the purpose of travel convenience and coordination of health and safety protocols, since Keeneland traditionally holds a big yearling sale in September.
“Our sale and Keeneland September are best served to be positioned closer together. Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland have been in steady contact with one another and are working together in a cooperative effort to do what’s best for our industry during these challenging times.”
“Keeneland is committed to do everything possible to help our industry navigate these extraordinary times,” Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason said. “These past few weeks, we have had many conversations with Fasig-Tipton about constructive efforts to benefit the industry, including scheduling of sales and consistent safety protocols. We will continue to work together on policies and measures to keep participants safe and provide assurances to our customers as we move forward.”
All yearlings catalogued in the Selected Yearlings Showcase will be approved on pedigree and physical conformation by Fasig-Tipton’s selection team over the next several weeks, ahead of the sale’s June 15 entry deadline.