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THE AGA'S AIRBORNE 23
At Saratoga the trend was somewhat reversed and, as usual, the Eastern buyers were the big bidders. After Hip No. 284, the best price was the $43,000 paid by a four-man New Jersey syndicate (Joseph M. Roebling, James Cox Brady, Townsend B. Martin, Anderson Fowler) for another of the Aga Khan's consignment, and among the top Saratoga bidders were F. Ambrose Clark, Harry Guggenheim, Mrs. Anson Bigelow and Mrs. Elizabeth N. Graham ( Elizabeth Arden), who owns Maine Chance Farm.
Newcomers to the sport, such as Arthur Godfrey, whose two-year-old Lord Willin' has had lots of publicity but little success this season, were much in evidence at Saratoga. Not all of them were buyers like Godfrey (who paid $40,000 for a yearling) either. Sitting humped studiously over his catalogue one night, nonhorseman Jack Dempsey looked at a spirited bidding session and exclaimed, "It's a hell of an education for anyone, this sales stuff!"
What undoubtedly made the Saratoga sale of 1954 more interesting than any other in a long time was the lot of 23 yearlings from the Aga Khan's Irish and French studs flown to this country (the largest equine airlift of all time) late in July. Finney, in announcing the closing night's sale of this lot, told his audience, "I doubt whether a better group of young horses has ever been sold." Then he cleared up another point. "No one is more aware that the horses sold by the Aga Khan do not win races than his son, Prince Aly Khan. However, I submit for your consideration, where would American racing have been without the horses sold by the Aga Khan?Mahmoud, Bahram, Blenheim II, Alibhai, Nasrullah, Noor, Khaled and the many others?" Two hours later the 23 yearlings sent by the Aga Khan and under the bloodshot eyes of his son Prince Aly at Saratoga, had brought $361,700?an average of $15,726 each. The Aga Khan has indeed set the fashion for American thoroughbred breeding in recent years.
Nasrullah, bred by the Aga and brought to Kentucky's Claiborne Farm in 1951, has sired the year's best two-year-old fillies, Lea Lane and Delta, and in England his three-year-old son, Robert Sterling Clark's Never Say Die, won the Derby. In the 1954 sales it was a son of Nasrullah that brought the record $86,000 at Keeneland, and a daughter sold for $44,000, the year's highest price among the fillies. The trend in both auctions was to spend the most money for the yearlings of the most fashionable sires, and, after Nasrullah, most in demand were the get of Royal Charger, Alibhai, Heliopolis, Noor and Mahmoud. The biggest bids for offspring of American-bred leaders were for yearlings by Citation, Count Fleet, War Admiral, Eight Thirty, Roman and Discovery.
When it was all over, the high-price horses and the low-price horses went home with their new owners. In general, the owners who had paid least had the most comfortable reflections. Man o' War went through the Saratoga ring for $5,000, and earned $250,000. His son, Broadway Limited, sold for $65,000, never finished better than fourth and fell dead trying to win a measly $900 purse at Lincoln Fields.
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