Sheikh Mohammed witnesses Saratoga auction

Bloodstock agent John Ferguson purchases three top-priced yearlings at the opening night of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale.

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Bloodstock agent, John Ferguson, acting for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, purchased three top-priced yearlings on Monday at the opening night of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale for a total of USD $4 million (Dh14.7m). Two of the purchases, were witnessed by Sheikh Mohammed who attended a US sale for first time in several years, are from the first crop of foals by Bernardini, the 2006 champion three-year-old who was bred and raced by Sheikh Mohammed and now stands at his Darley Stud.

The other was from the newly-acquired Darley second crop sire, Medaglia d'Oro, who produced wonder filly, Rachel Alexandra. A Bernardini colt out of the 1998 stakes-winning Storm Cat mare, Storm Beauty, 1998 which fetched $1.2m, was the first purchase to break the million dollar mark. Ferguson also bought another Bernardini colt out of the mare, Bird Town, whose recogniseable name singles her out as from the same family as Kentucky Derby shock winner, Mine That Bird and Belmont Stakes winner, Summer Bird. He went for $1.3m.

But it was a filly by Medaglia d'Oro from another Storm Cat mare, Cat Dancer, who fetched top dollar with a final bid of $1.5 million. After the sale Ferguson dropped hints that the new additions may be considered for Europe campaigns. "With AP Indy [Bernardini's sire who was a prolific US winner] you know 95 per cent of the time the answer is going be America," he said. "But with Bernardini, and I may be wrong, I can really see him being the kind of horse who can go to both sides of the Atlantic. From a stallion's point of view, that's a great thing to have, that flexibiliy."