The Saratoga Sale, held in Saratoga Springs, New York, is annually the top ranked sale in North America by percentage of Grade 1 winners sold.
When it comes to the fillies who have graduated from the Saratoga Sale, it’s not just lady luck. It is a combination of pedigree, physical, and refined selection by skilled horsemen that starts when they walk into the ring at The Saratoga Sale, and culminates in the winner’s circle.
Eventual two-time champion Tepin was purchased for $140,000 out of the 2012 Saratoga Sale consignment of Select Sales, where her consistency and laid-back personality drew Robert E. Masterson to the Bernstein filly.
“Deuce Greathouse and David Greathouse, Deuce’s father, were the first two to see her,” Masterson said about the yearling Tepin at the Saratoga Sale. “They loved her disposition, they loved the way she walked. She was a great mover. I saw her later that day. Same thoughts that they had. You know we saw her several times after that. You like to see a horse after it’s been out so many times, and how it acts, and how it’s disposition is later on in the day after it’s been handled so much and walked so much. She always carried herself the same way. There was never any change in her.”
Tepin hinted early on at her superior potential while winning the Delta Downs Princess (G3) on the dirt during her two-year-old season. But it wasn’t until she switched over to turf that Tepin truly found her stride.
At four, Tepin fired off a front-running victory in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) before clinching her first Grade 1 title in the Just a Game S. (G1) at Belmont. After a nose and a head second in the Diana S. (G1) and Ballston Spa S. (G2), it would be more than a year before another horse put their head in front of Tepin’s.
That fall, Tepin rattled her competition with a decisive 7-length score in the First Lady S. (G1) before showing the boys how it’s done in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), winning that race by 2 ¼ lengths. Tepin’s four-year-old season earned her the first of two consecutive Eclipse Awards for Champion Grass Mare.
Tepin carried her streak into 2016, kicking off her five-year-old season with wins in the Endeavor S. (G3) and Hillsborough S. (G2) at Tampa Bay. She returned to Kentucky to capture the Jenny Wiley S. (G1) and successfully defend her title in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2).
Tepin’s next appointment was oversees at Royal Ascot, where she represented the United States with aplomb as she bested colts and won the Queen Anne S. (G1) – the first American-based horse to do so. Hopping from the United Kingdom to Canada, Tepin won her second consecutive race outside of the United States when taking the Woodbine Mile (G1) by ½ length.
“In Woodbine, Canada when we were getting the trophy for winning the Woodbine Mile, we had to stop the reception because the people were shouting Tepin’s name so loud,” Masterson recalled. But above all the triumphs, Masterson stated that winning at Royal Ascot was the most memorable moment of Tepin’s career.
“First of all, we had no expectations of winning, but we wanted to go and try, and we thought that she’d done everything we wanted her to do, and it would be a great opportunity to take an American horse over there and run and perform well. But to win was simply amazing. I mean it was just unexpected, and a great trial.”
The spectacular distaffer closed out her career with runner up finishes in the First Lady S. (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), in which she was a game second by ½ length to record-setting winner Tourist. Tepin capped her phenomenal final year on the track with a second Eclipse Award for Champion Grass Mare and retired with earnings of $4,437,918.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience in the horse business. It’s very difficult to ever get a horse like that, and have the opportunity to have one like that, and to cherish all the time with her was just outstanding.”
A $40,000 purchase by Vernan Lee Stables from the 2013 Saratoga Sale consignment of Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services, Stellar Wind ultimately found the west coast more to her liking.
After breaking her maiden late in her two-year-old season, Stellar Wind shipped to Santa Anita to win her graded stakes debut in her first outing at three. A 2 ¾ length winner of the Santa Ysabel S. (G3), Stellar Wind went on to win the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) by more than five lengths.
After a successful spring in California, Stellar Wind soared through her summer, capturing the Summertime Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita and Torrey Pine S. (G3) at Del Mar before finishing a neck second to multiple Grade 1 winner Stopchargingmaria in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Stellar Wind exited her three-year-old campaign with an Eclipse Award for Champion 3YO Filly.
At four, Stellar Wind found herself hard up against the great mare Beholder, to whom she finished second in the Vanity Mile S. (G1). She returned with a vengeance a month later to best that counterpart in the Clement L. Hirsch S. (G1) and Zenyatta S. (G1).
Stellar Wind returned in top form this year, winning the Apple Blossom H. (G1) at Oaklawn and Beholder Mile (G1), named after her rival of the previous year, at Santa Anita. She remains in trainer with John Sadler for owner Hronis Racing.
Consigned by Gainesway to the 2013 Saratoga Sale, Avenge was purchased for $650,000 by agent Steven W. Young, who admired the filly’s pedigree and overall physical appearance.
“Obviously she’s by War Front, who I couldn’t possibly have more respect for than I do him,” Young said in a recent phone interview. “On paper she comes from an old Claiborne Farm family, and was an offshoot of horses that did very well for Lane’s End also. Then you go to her physically, she was very strong over her back, she had a great shoulder, great balance. Physically she’s always been special, and she was special then.
“[Owner Ramona Bass] liked her immediately. As I said she was a beautiful filly that stood over ground and had a lot of good aspects from both sides of her family. Ramona liked her a lot the first time she saw her.”
A stakes winner at Santa Anita at three, Avenge really came into her own at four, when she notched her first graded stakes win in the John C. Mabee S. (G2) at Del Mar over eventual Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) winner Finest City. A month later, Avenge got the jump on the rest of the field right at the start of the Rodeo Drive (G1) and never looked back, cruising from gate to wire on the lead to win by ¾ length.
“We’re fortunate enough that most of the people that I buy for, they’re not my clients, they’re my friends,” Young said. “When you have a horse that you pay that kind of money for come to fruition on the racetrack, it makes everything worth the effort and the time, and it’s very, very special.”
Twice Grade 1-placed behind the exceptional Lady Eli since the Rodeo Drive, Avenge is currently in training with Richard Mandella for owner Ramona Bass.
Consigned to the 2014 Saratoga Sale by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, Songbird was a $400,000 buy for Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm.
A year later, Songbird took flight in her very first start, winning a maiden special weight at Del Mar by 6 ½ lengths. She immediately followed that with a move up to Grade 1 company in the Del Mar Debutante (G1), blowing away the field in a swift 5 ¼ length victory. Twenty-one days later she contended the Chandelier S. (G1), and even after being bumped at the start, she pulled ahead of her rivals and led the field from gate to wire, dominating by 4 ½ lengths.
Those victories set her up for the most dominating score of her career to that point, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), where she triumphed over fellow Grade 1 winners Rachel’s Valentina and Nickname, along with a number of other talented graded stakes winning fillies, by 5 ¾ lengths. At the end of her two-year-old season, Songbird was honored with the distinction of Eclipse Award 2015 Champion 2YO Filly.
With expectations high as she soared into her sophomore year, Songbird did not disappoint, knocking down seven consecutive graded stakes races – four of which were Grade 1events – and never finished less than 3 lengths ahead of her competitors.
Starting at her home base on the west coast, she won the Las Virgenes S. (G2), Santa Ysabel S. (G3), Santa Anita Oaks (G1), and the Summertime Oaks (G2), before taking the east coast by storm. Undaunted by the ominous “Graveyard of Champions” title that is synonymous with Saratoga, Songbird won the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) by 5 ¼ lengths before blowing away the field of the Alabama (G1) by 7.
Her win in the Cotillion S. (G1) at Parx was followed by a valorous performance in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Santa Anita. The stretch run was one of the most exciting in the Breeders’ Cup to date, as Songbird set the pace and led the field into the stretch, digging in with determination to face the challenge of four-time champion Beholder, and only losing by the barest nose in the final bow of the older mare’s racing career.
After being awarded another champion title, Eclipse Award for Champion 3YO Filly, along with a well-deserved six-month rest from the races at WinStar Farm, Songbird fired off dual Grade 1 victories. In her four-year-old debut, she won the Ogden Phipps S. (G1) at Belmont on June 10, and followed that score with a win in the Delaware Handicap (G1) a month later at Delaware Park. To date, she has earned $4,562,000 for owner Fox Hill Farm and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Find Your Own Success Story!
The 2017 Saratoga Sale of Selected Yearlings will be held Monday and Tuesday, August 7 and 8 at 6:30 p.m. the Fasig-Tipton Sales Paddocks in Saratoga Springs, New York. The full catalogue is available online now at www.fasigtipton.com.