For two nights at least, the downturn that has haunted the Thoroughbred auction arena the past year was nowhere to be found.
The combination of its boutique catalog and the presence of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum helped the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select yearling sale post substantial gains Monday and Tuesday.
Although the market has been down about 25 to 30 percent in recent months, the Saratoga sale produced an overall gross of $52,549,500, up 45.6 percent from 2008, while the average of $328,434 and median of $250,000 improved by 11.1 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively.
Sheikh Mohammed, who attended the Saratoga sale for the first time in several years, bought the highest-price horse when he went to $2.8 million for a son of Storm Cat consigned by Lane's End.
The colt is a half-brother to Grade I winner Aragorn and was bred by Jane and Frank Lyon's Summer Wind Farm.
Representatives of Sheikh Mohammed also purchased a Medaglia d'Oro filly for $1.5 million Monday and a pair of Bernardini colts for $1.3 million and $1.2 million, respectively.
Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud stands Bernardini, whom Darley bred and raced, at its Lexington-based Jonabell Farm. Darley also purchased a majority interest in Medaglia d'Oro this year and will stand him in 2010.