Catching up with the top sellers from 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga

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August 7th, 2017

Last year’s feature on the youngsters who’d topped Fasig-Tipton Saratoga the previous summer provided a very early report on Tapwrit, now famous as the Belmont (G1) winner.

In observance of the boutique sale that opens tonight and concludes Tuesday evening, let’s catch up with 2016’s priciest Saratoga yearlings. Might there be a classic winner among them too?

$1.45 million Medaglia d’Oro-Whisper to Me filly named WHISPER TO MAMA 

The sale topper purchased by Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm, Whisper to Mama was only just named July 15 according to The Jockey Club. She has recorded a trio of works over the Safetrack at GoldMark Farm near Ocala, Florida, but none past one furlong or since June 17. 

As reported by Thoroughbred Daily News, Pope prevailed over a high-profile underbidder in Spendthrift Farm’s B. Wayne Hughes. Plans called for the yearling to be broken at Whisper Hill before going into her early training at GoldMark with Todd Quast, who’d scouted her out at the sale.


Bred by Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Stud in Kentucky, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was consigned by Denali Stud, agent. She descends from the superb family of Hall of Famer Chris Evert (second dam of champion Chief’s Crown) and 1988 Kentucky Derby (G1) heroine Winning Colors, also enshrined in the Hall.

The filly is herself a half-sister to $548,656-earner Overheard (by Macho Uno), the winner of the 2014 Dance Smartly (G2) and 2013 Valley View (G3) sponsored by her breeder. They were produced by the stakes-winning Thunder Gulch mare Whisper to Me, from the further family of the well-named Confessional (by Holy Bull out of Whisper Who Dares), the 1998 Frizette (G1) heroine.

$1.25 million Tapit-Rote colt

Snapped up by the partnership of Stonestreet Stables and Coolmore, the yet-unnamed May 14 foal was residing at Stonestreet at last report. That tidbit comes from the website of his breeder Marbat, the nom de course of Sheikh Abdullah Almaddah, who holds a minority interest in the colt.

At the sale, Stonestreet adviser John Moynihan told TDN that this was one of the best Tapits he’d ever seen. He was fittingly offered by Gainesway, home of leading sire Tapit. Here’s a video of him strutting his stuff (courtesy of Kris Stuebs’ Kris S. Bloodstock):


Matching that physical, of course, is a fine pedigree. He’s a full brother to Royal Obsession, herself a $1 million Saratoga yearling and runner-up in the 2016 Gazelle (G2). Another half-sibling, current sophomore Jumby Bay (by City Zip), was twice stakes-placed at Tampa Bay Downs over the winter.

Their dam, the Tiznow mare Rote, is a winning half-sister to Grade 1 turfer Magnificent Song, Group 2-placed Great Barrier Reef, and the Grade/Group 3-placed pair of Galileo’s Song and Park Avenue. Further back in the female line, one finds the smart performer and sire Mr. Leader.

$950,000 Pioneerof the Nile-Ocean Goddess colt named NERO (trainer: Bob Baffert)

The Del Mar Futurity (G1) nominee has been working up a storm for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Another Stonestreet/Coolmore acquisition from the Gainesway consignment, he posted a series of 10 moves at Santa Anita beginning on May 19. Nero has turned in one strong drill since moving down to Del Mar, a July 31 bullet half from the gate in :47.20.

Previously named Ocean Pioneer, the promising colt is bred along the same lines as Triple Crown hero American Pharoah and champion Classic Empire. All are sons of Pioneerof the Nile and Storm Cat-line mares.


Nero is out of the winning Stormy Atlantic mare Ocean Goddess. That makes him a half-brother to 2015 Sam Davis (G3) winner Ocean Knight, who later placed in the Discovery (G3) as well as in last October’s Kelso (G2). His breeder, Erik and Pavla Nygaard’s Thor-Bred Stables, came up with two leading colts in their preceding crop in Battle of Midway and Klimt.

$800,000 Songbird half-sister named SONG OF MINE (trainer: Dane Kobiskie)

As a half-sister to champion Songbird, this Ghostzapper-Ivanavinalot filly attracted considerable interest in the build-up to her sales ring appearance. She was consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency on behalf of breeder John Antonelli.


While her price fit her profile, the successful bidder wasn’t as easy to predict: Paula, Tom, and Kaitlin Haughey’s PTK LLC. According to Equibase, the family has yet to celebrate a graded stakes victory in their colors.

Named Song of Mine, the filly went to Jason McCutchen for her early education. He tweeted a great photo of her in April:

Song of Mine recently logged her first work for trainer Dane Kobiskie at The Thoroughbred Center near Lexington, a three-furlong spin in :38 on July 16.

Although Songbird is obviously the marquee name on her maternal side, dam Ivanavinalot was classy in her day. The daughter of West Acre crushed two of three divisions of the 2002 Florida Stallion S. – the Susan’s Girl and My Dear Girl – as well as the Brave Raj at two, and added the all-important graded laurel in the 2003 Bonnie Miss (G2). Ivanavinalot also factors as the second dam of Grade 3-winning sprinter Mico Margarita.

$800,000 Tapit half-brother to Princess of Sylmar named BIBLICAL (trainer: Todd Pletcher)

Purchased by China Horse Club, Biblical first turned up on the worktab at WinStar Training Center with a pair of three-furlong moves in May. He’s since been working regularly for Todd Pletcher at Saratoga, and got up to five-eighths in 1:02.21 July 29. On August 4, he breezed a half-mile from the gate in :50.93 over the Oklahoma training track.

Biblical was bred by Barronstown Stud and initially sold for $500,000 as a Keeneland November weanling. The gray became a profitable pinhook for Hunter Valley Farm.

Conceived the year after half-sister Princess of Sylmar starred in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks (G1), Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), Alabama (G1), and Beldame (G1), he is out of the stakes-placed Catienus mare Storm Dixie. At that time, the mare was still owned by Edward Stanco’s King of Prussia Stable. She was subsequently sold for $1.9 million at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November while carrying Biblical, hence the new owner is credited as the breeder.

Storm Dixie is herself a half-sister to Rhythm Band, winner of the 2000 Dubai Duty Free (G3) (now known as the Dubai Turf on World Cup night).

$750,000 Tapit-Fashion Cat colt named NEW YORK CENTRAL (trainer: Steve Asmussen)

Another China Horse Club buy, New York Central worked at Keeneland three times in May, recorded five works at Churchill, and has now graduated to Steve Asmussen’s string at Saratoga. After a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.25 out of the gate July 17, he switched to the Oklahoma training turf for a half-mile spin in :52.43 on Monday morning.

It would be appropriate for the gray to emerge at the Spa, since half-brother Corfu scored on debut here and captured the 2013 Saratoga Special (G2). Corfu went on to finish second in the Futurity (G2). They are also half-brothers to Keeneland stakes-placed Runway Ready. Their dam, the winning Fashion Cat by Forest Wildcat, is in turn a half to multiple Grade 1 victor and $3 million-earner Peace Rules.

Bred by SF Bloodstock, New York Central was a $390,000 weanling pinhook by Exclusive Equine Investments, the Top Line Sales partnership that resold him at Saratoga.

To round out the top eight:

The $750,000 Tapit-Super Espresso filly is unnamed at this writing. Bred by Bobby Flay and consigned by Bluewater Sales, agent, she was bought by Sallusto and Albina as agents. Their undisclosed client was reportedly North American-based. Super Espresso, a Grade 3 winner by Medaglia d’Oro, is a half-sister to Group 2 scorer King of Rome.

The $700,000 War Front-City Sister filly, named WIN THE WAR, has been working at Casse Training Center. No work was published between her June 28 and July 27 moves, that last being a three-furlong leg stretcher in :37.40. She was purchased by Casse and Casse, agent, from the Eaton Sales consignment. The half-sister to Grade 2 vixen Dixie City is also an “aunt” of Grade 2 winner Unified.

Hopscotching around the rest of the leaderboard, here are several who’ve been hitting the worktab or the races:

The $650,000 MOONSHINE MEMORIES, a Del Mar Debutante (G1) nominee for Simon Callaghan, started gearing up at Santa Anita in early July, progressed to a trio of half-miles at Del Mar, and just drilled five furlongs in 1:01 Monday morning. Owned by Bridlewood Farm in partnership with Coolmore, the Malibu Moon filly is a half to Grade 2-placed stakes scorer Indian Evening. They were produced by the winning Unenchanted Evening, an Unbridled’s Song half-sister to champion Favorite Trick, Horse of the Year at two in 1997.

The $630,000 Ruis Racing purchase BOLT D’ORO, a Del Mar Futurity nominee, impressed in his debut in this past Saturday’s 7TH race at the seaside.

The word was out after a lengthy sequence of works, and Bolt d’Oro was sent off as the 4-5 favorite. The Mick Ruis pupil didn’t have an easy trip, getting off a tad slow and scrimmaging as he hustled to contest the pace. Yet he still had enough left to edge clear, then comfortably see off a sustained challenge from Bank Walker.


By Medaglia d’Oro and out of the winning A.P. Indy mare Globe Trot, Bolt d’Oro is a half-brother to current multiple stakes scorer and Grade 2-placed Sonic Mule.

PINK SANDS, the $625,000 daughter of Tapit and 2011 Prioress (G1) queen Her Smile, has worked at Fair Hill, Belmont, and now routinely at Saratoga for Shug McGaughey. Gainesway’s Michael Hernon tweeted this photo with her ownership information:

Del Mar Debutante nominee BUTTERSCOTCH, a $600,000 full sister to Normandy Invasion, started working at San Luis Rey before moving to Del Mar. Trained by Richard Mandella, the Tapit filly is owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms, which campaigned her Grade 1-placed and Gulfstream track record-setting brother.

Double trouble alert: if Butterscotch develops into a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) prospect, beware that Aidan O’Brien has a useful filly by the exact same name in this division. The Irish-bred Butterscotch finished second to highly regarded stablemate Clemmie in the July 2 Grangecon Stud (G3) at the Curragh, and could be the type to consider the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

O’Brien trains a prominent Saratoga grad himself, the $525,000 Scat Daddy colt named DALI, who won at Naas in his second try on May 1.

“I think five or six suits him, he has plenty of speed, when he learns what he's at,” the master of Ballydoyle told “He was still swapping and changing a good bit so he still doesn't really know. He would have learned plenty today.”

Forecast as a Royal Ascot possible, Dali missed the meeting after trailing as the favorite in the May 21 Rochestown. The Coolmore colt just resurfaced Monday at the Curragh, winding up fourth at 8-1 behind first-stringer Fleet Review. He’ll need to improve to factor in such future engagements as the August 13 Phoenix (G1), August 26 Gimcrack (G2), and September 16 Champagne (G2). Dali was produced by the Cape Cross mare Alegendinmyownmind, and his second dam is Grade 2 heroine and classic-placed Midnight Line.

Del Mar Debutante nominee NEW NARRATION has reeled off a series of works at Los Alamitos for Baffert. China Horse Club went to $500,000 for the Tapit filly out of 2010 Natalma (G3) winner New Normal.

Jim McIngvale’s CALLMECASH, the $500,000 son of Frankel and 2009 champion juvenile filly She Be Wild, is working regularly at The Thoroughbred Center.

The $500,000 SNOWFIRE is the first on this list to break her maiden in the United States. Trained by Mark Casse for John C. Oxley, the Tapit filly rolled on debut June 29 at Churchill Downs. That was good enough to send her off as the 2-1 favorite in the Schuylerville (G3) on Saratoga’s opening day, but she couldn’t go the torrid pace and churned on for fourth.

Considering that she’s bred to go twice as far, and not necessarily on dirt, Snowfire remains one to watch going forward. Her dam, Upperline, was a multiple Grade 3 winner on turf and synthetic. From a grass-oriented family with plenty of stamina, Upperline swept Keeneland’s 12-furlong turf stakes for distaffers in 2012, taking the Bewitch (G3) in the spring and the Dowager in the fall. Her first foal, current three-year-old War Secretary, won the April 12 Patton S. over Dundalk’s Polytrack for O’Brien.

You can see Snowfire’s size and scope in this Spa paddock video from TDN:

Hopefully we’ll be hearing a lot more from these sales alumni in the future.

Photo of sales topper Whisper to Mama courtesy Fasig-Tipton via Twitter