SARATOGA SPRINGS — Travel restrictions are forcing horse sales company Fasig-Tipton to move a third thoroughbred auction out of Saratoga Springs this year.
The Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall sale, originally scheduled for Oct. 20, is moving to Timonium, Maryland. The auction will be held in conjunction with its MidAtlantic mixed sale on Dec. 7 and 8.
"Current travel advisory requirements make it virtually impossible for many buyers from out of state to attend an auction in Saratoga," said Fasig-Tipton president and chief executive Boyd Browning Jr.
The move could be tough on New York thoroughbred breeders and owners who rely on Saratoga auctions to attract an audience and create a market for their horses. The Saratoga fall sale focuses heavily on broodmares and young horses that are still a year or two away from entering their first race.
Last year, 134 horses sold at the fall sale for nearly $3.4 million.
The move to Maryland marks the third auction that Fasig-Tipton has been forced to pull out of Saratoga this year. The auction company moved its flagship selected yearling sale and New York bred auction from Saratoga Springs to Lexington, Kentucky. The date was moved from August to Sept. 9 and 10.
The Selected yearling sale brings wealthy buyers from all over the world to Saratoga Springs each year. Last year, 135 yearlings sold for an average of $411,500 apiece, generating total sales of $55.5 million. A few days later, 186 horses sold in the New York-bred sale for a total of $16.2 million.
Moving the Fasig-Tipton auctions is understandable given everything that is happening in the world, said breeder Christopher Shelli, owner of Fort Christopher Thoroughbreds, which has farms in New York and Kentucky.
"On the positive side, there are still options for selling horses," Shelli said. "With all of the travel restrictions and Covid-19, people haven't been able to travel freely. Couple that with an election year and it is not a great time to be selling horses."
For many New York breeders, it will cost more to transport horses to Kentucky, Maryland and other sales grounds instead of focusing on the auctions in Saratoga Springs, Shelli said.
"And there is just no way to recreate the mystique that Saratoga has," he said.