Strong Book 2 Opener at Keeneland


Hip 762 | Keeneland

The Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale continued Wednesday in Lexington with a strong first Book 2 session highlighted by a $1.15-million unraced 2-year-old daughter of Tapit. For the session, 229 horses sold for $30,788,000. During last year’s Book 2 opener, 271 head grossed $29,701,000. The average rose 22.67% to $134,445 and the median was up 17.65% to $100,000.

“I thought today’s sale was excellent,” Keeneland’s Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell said at the close of business Wednesday. “Foals sold very, very well, mares sold good and, obviously, prime 2-year-old prospects also sold well.”

Stonestreet Stables made its third seven-figure purchase of the November sale to secure session-topping Royal Obsession (Tapit) (hip 762) from the Three Chimneys-consigned dispersal of Nat Rea’s Regis Farms.

The gray filly was the most expensive Book 2 horse to sell at Keeneland November since Quiet Now (Tiznow) brought $1.85 million in 2011 out of the Ned Evans/Spring Hill Farm dispersal. The top price at last year’s third session was $850,000, paid for a weanling colt by War Front.

There were four horses over $400,000 Wednesday, all mares, compared to five over that mark a year ago. A colt by Uncle Mo (hip 623) was Wednesday’s top-priced weanling, selling for $370,000.

The buy-back rate for the session was 27.30%. It was 19.82% a year ago. Russell acknowledged that buyers continue to be selective in their bidding.

“These are long-term investments these people are making, mares tend to be around for a while, so with any holes in produce records or coverings, buyers have been very picky,” he explained. “The foal market is very strong. We’ve seen some very good prices for foals. If you’re being selective, you have to stretch to buy what you want. If you’re not being selective, you’ll take whatever you’re given. These people are very specific as to what they want. They want the best of the best in whichever market they’re in. Like in September, and now in November–they’re willing to stretch for them. Now, what happens when they stretch for them is they leave some others behind.”

Through three sessions, Keeneland has sold 508 horses for a total of $139,666,000. The average of $274,933 is up 19.12% from the same period of last year’s sale and the median is up 28.0% to $160,000.

The November sale continues through Nov. 13 with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.

Royal Obsession the Queen of Keeneland

Horses from the complete dispersal of Nat Rea’s Regis Farms always figured to be among the most coveted offerings at this year’s Keeneland November sale, and the unraced, but in-training 2-year-old Royal Obsession (Tapit) hogged the spotlight Wednesday as Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables went all the way to $1.15 million for her. The grey was consigned as hip 762 by Three Chimneys Farm, who is handling the sales of all 41 Regis dispersal offerings (click here for more).

Out of a half-sister to GISW Magnificent Song (Unbridled’s Song), Royal Obsession was a $550,000 weanling buy by John Moores and Charles Noell’s Merriebelle Stables here in 2013. Regis picked her up for $1 million at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, and eventually turned her over to conditioner Steve Asmussen.

“This filly is on her fourth five-furlong breeze (1:00.60, 6/45, at Churchill Downs Oct. 30 {ThoroStride video}),” noted Case Clay of Three Chimneys. “She’s just doing really well–she beautiful, has a lot of potential and she’s ready to run. Hopefully Stonestreet will have some good luck with her very soon.”

Stonestreet was represented by another juvenile filly last week in homebred Rachel’s Valentina (Bernardini–Rachel Alexandra), who completed the exacta in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and has been active–as usual–at Keeneland November.

“She’s beautiful, she cost a lot of money as a yearling, and she’s been training absolutely lights-out super,” said Banke’s bloodstock advisor John Moynihan of Wednesday’s topper. “We have horses with Steve, and he was extremely high on her, so we decided to take a shot. She’s close to running, and looks like she’ll run far, so she looks like a great prospect for next year.”

Of the price tag, he said, “I thought she was going to bring a million dollars, but I didn’t know where she was going to go past that…They’d given a million for her, she’s trained absolutely super and done nothing wrong, so it wasn’t that much of a premium to have to pay over what they initially paid for her as a yearling. We’re happy.”

After congratulating Banke on her purchase, Rea discussed his decision to leave the horse business. The Canadian businessman, who founded the auto parts company Martinrea International, is moving to Texas and committing all of his time and resources to pursue opportunities in the oil business.

“You can’t be in [the horse] business even 10% of the time–you have to be fully vested and you have to be available,” he said. “For the next four or five years, I’m just totally devoting all of my energy to oil. In this industry I’ve met so many great people, and I think that’s the toughest thing–not having that interaction with the people that I’ve met–so many great friends, and I’m going to miss that part of it. Celebrating the wins and losses, that’s going to be the tough thing to walk away from.”

Twenty Regis dispersal offerings have sold so far this week for a total of $9.24 million, topped by GI Kentucky Oaks runner-up Shook Up (Tapit), who went for $1.65 million to Three Chimneys during Monday’s opening session.

There’s one horse who Rea won’t yet part with. He owns well-pedigreed GII Pennsylvania Derby runner-up Iron Fist (Tapit) with none other than Stonestreet. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee was a sharp allowance winner at Del Mar Sunday.

“Jerry told me ‘Whatever you do, don’t sell this horse! This horse could pay for all the other horses,’” Rea said. “I enjoy Stonestreet and Barbara and her great team, and I get to drink some of her great wine after some of the wins… I’ll still keep my heart and passion and soul in the business, and I’ll miss all the friends and people that I’ve met, but hopefully in four or five years I can come back.” —@BDiDonato

Woodford Comes ‘Prepared’

John and Susan Sykes’s Woodford Thoroughbreds landed ‘TDN Rising Star’ Overprepared (Quality Road) Wednesday, fending off the likes of Kempton Bloodstock’s Steve Castagnola to secure the bay 3-year-old for $450,000. Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, Agent XLII as hip 725, the Repole Stable colorbearer was offered in foal to another former Repole representative, champion juvenile and leading freshman sire Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie).

“She was gorgeous–she was an absolutely beautiful physical,” said Woodford General Manager Matt Lyons, who signed the ticket while seated next to John Sykes. “She’s a half to a Grade I winner, she’s nice and young and she’s in foal to a good horse. She was our pick for the day on physical. She’s a really beautiful mare.”

A half to GI Personal Ensign S. winner Shadow Cast (Smart Strike), Overprepared was a $125,000 Fasig-Tipton October yearling who blossomed into a $310,000 OBSMAR juvenile after a :10 2/5 breeze.

Turned over to trainer Todd Pletcher, Overprepared was a debut winner at Belmont last October before finishing third in Laurel’s Smart Halo S. the following month. She stretched to an extended mile to annex Aqueduct’s Busanda S. this January, and was stakes-placed once more before retiring this May.

Uncle Mo, who was also a ‘TDN Rising Star’ who flattered that distinction by taking home champion 2-year-old honors in 2010, has been represented this year by likely fellow Eclipse winner and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero Nyquist, as well as local

GI Darley Alcibiades S. winner Gomo (Uncle Mo). He is the earnings leader among freshman sires standing in North America by a multiple of more than three.

Woodford has acquired 10 mares so far at Keeneland November for a combined $3.46 million. Among those purchases was GSW Via Villagio (Bernardini), $750,000, consigned by Denali Stud, Agent XXVIII as hip 469 in foal to Tiznow; and Mill Ridge Sales-consigned Justmeandmyshadow (Tiznow), the dam of this year’s GIII Delaware Oaks upsetter Calamity Kate (Yes It’s True). Offered in foal to Bodemeister as hip 334, Justmeandmyshadow cost $525,000.

“The market’s strong for the nice mares,” Lyons noted. “We’ve bought a few the last couple of days, and there’s plenty of competition for the top ones. It seems that people forgot September very fast and prices are strong. It’s a little concerning the way these stud fees are going up, so we’re trying to buy some mares in foal to the right horses, and we think we got a nice one here today.” —@BDiDonato

WinStar Gets Harbor Mist

WinStar Farm president and CEO Elliott Walden came out on top Wednesday with a $410,000 bid for the stakes-winning Harbor Mist (Rockport Harbor), who sold carrying her first foal by WinStar resident Speightstown. Consigned by Nursery Place, agent, the 6-year-old was catalogued as hip 629.

“She’s just a nice mare in foal to the right horse, so we’re just real pleased with her,” Walden said. “That was the top end [of what I expected]–I thought she’d bring $300,000-$400,000.”

When asked about the overall market, the prominent horseman said, “I think its been fair, and not crazy. It got a little crazy [Tuesday] with some really good bloodstock, but it should be that way. I feel like it’s a good market.”

A winner of Saratoga’s Anne M. Clare S. as a juvenile for Phil Serpe and Flying Zee Stables, Harbor Mist was purchased privately after four more stakes placings by John Donaldson. She was third in the 2013 Touch of Love S. at Aqueduct for Donaldson and trainer Bruce Levine.

The dark bay is a half to GSP Jaramar Rain (Thunder Gulch), who produced MGSP Imperial Council (Empire Maker).

“She’s a beautiful mare,” said Nursery Place’s Happy Broadbent. “I give all the credit to the Nursery Place team for how fantastic the mare looked.” –@BDiDonato


Dilger Stretches for Uncle Mo Colt

A weanling colt by leading freshman sire Uncle Mo is destined for a return to the sales ring next year after selling to pinhooker Gerry Dilger of Dromoland Farm for $370,000 during Wednesday’s third session of the Keeneland November sale. Hip 623 is out of Gypsy Sage (Hennessy) and is from the family of Group 1 placed Cordoba and Grade I placed Normandy Invasion. “He’s a really nice colt with good size and I liked him very much,” Dilger said. “And what can I say about the sire–he’s on fire.”

With his first crop running this year, Uncle Mo has been represented by GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and likely Eclipse champion 2-year-old Nyquist, as well as GI Darley Alcibiades S. winner Gomo.

Dilger admitted he knew he would have company bidding on the weanling.

“I thought there would be people there for him–I knew I wouldn’t be alone,” the Irishman said. “So I did stretch for him a little. The good ones are tough–they are selling lights out. But we just have to keep going at them.”

The weanling was consigned by Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck’s Summerfield as agent for Parrish Hill Farm. Parrish Hill, which co-bred the colt with Ashford Stud, purchased Gypsy Sage, then three, for $7,000, at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky February sale. @JessMartiniTDN

Bonne Chance Picking Up Where Regis Left Off

Four-year-old filly Empress Maker (Empire Maker), out of the Three Chimneys-consigned complete dispersal of Nat Rea’s Regis Farms, will be heading to Rea’s former property after bringing $360,000 at Keeneland November Wednesday.

As previously reported in the TDN, a new entity operating under the name Bonne Chance Farm has purchased Rea’s Woodford County nursery, and Bonne Chance’s General Manager Kieran Lalor–who managed Rea’s operation for two years–has been helping to fill the empty stalls this week.

Empress Maker (hip 586), a daughter of MGISW Ticker Tape (GB) (Royal Applause {GB}), was consigned as a broodmare prospect. The $400,000 KEEJAN short yearling and $350,000 KEESEP RNA was last seen rallying to take a restricted added-money event at Delaware Sept. 12 for conditioner Graham Motion.

“I know her history,” Lalor said. “She’s out of a very good mare–she’s a stakes winner by Empire Maker… I feel very lucky that we got her for this price. I thought she’d bring a lot more.”

While Lalor declined to reveal the identity of Bonne Chance’s principal, he said that the owner was from Brazil and was looking to build a breed-to-race operation. Three Chimneys chairman Gonçalo Torrealba, who also hails from Brazil, was instrumental in brokering Bonne Chance’s purchase of Rea’s farm.

Signing as F. T. I., Lalor and associates have purchased six mares so far this week for $2.195 million. Among those acquisitions was Canadian champion, Triple Tiara winner and GI Breeders’ Cup F/M Turf runner-up Sealy Hill (Point Given), who was also consigned by Three Chimneys as part of the Regis dispersal and went for $750,000 Monday. A $590,000 Fasig-Tipton February purchase in 2013, Sealy Hill is already responsible for graded stakes winners Hillaby (Distorted Humor) and Belle Hill (Sky Mesa).

Lalor admitted that his familiarity with the Regis offerings has been an advantage.

“For me, it’s great–especially with the bloodstock,” Lalor said. “I know a lot of the animals, and there’s a comfort level in coming to a public auction and knowing the animals ahead of time. We’ve tried on a bunch of them, so it’s nice. We get to stay at the same place, and we’re very passionate about the property and everything we’ve built there. And we’re very excited with the new owner. He’s a great man, very passionate about the animals. He’s gone back home now, but we spent all morning walking through the fields and he’s very excited.”

Bonne Chance also purchased a Bodemeister–Renda half-sister to this year’s dual Grade I winner Rock Fall (Speighstown) for $300,000 at Keeneland September, and a $90,000 Animal Kingdom weanling filly at Sunday’s Fasig-Tipton sale.


Crestwood Quick out of the Blocks

The McLean family’s Crestwood Farm enjoyed a pair of strong results early in Wednesday’s third session of the Keeneland November sale, first selling a weanling by The Factor for $200,000 (hip 497) to Cavalier Bloodstock and following up with the very next hip through the ring when a weanling by Scat Daddy (hip 498) brought $230,000 from de Meric Stables.

The second of those transactions represented a major score for the operation. The Scat Daddy colt is the first foal out of Beaucoup (English Channel), a mare Pope McLean purchased with this foal in utero for $33,000 at last year’s Keeneland November sale.

“She is from a really nice family and she is a really nice-looking mare,” McLean said of the now 6-year-old, who is a half-sister to Grade I winner Never Retreat (Smart Strike).

McLean admitted he was pleased to get Beaucoup at that price last November.

“We thought it was a bargain at the time,” he said. “We thought she’d bring more. So we were very pleased with the price we got her for and then of course Scat Daddy kept getting hotter and hotter. So we got lucky, too.”

McLean added of the mare’s first foal, “He was typical of a Scat Daddy. He had good size and a lot of leg under him and he’ll improve a whole lot, I’m sure, as a yearling and on as a 2-year-old, too. He’s the kind that there is a lot of upside to him. Everything was there. He just needed to come on. Once he comes on, he’ll be super. The price didn’t shock us.”

One of about 40 mares in Crestwood’s commercial broodmare band, Beaucoup was bred back to Alternation this year.

McLean admitted he was seeing a continuing polarization in the marketplace.

“I think it’s the same [at Keeneland November] as all the other markets–you’re either up here or there is no demand at all for something at the bottom that has problems,” he said. “But if you have a good one, you get rewarded.” @JessMartiniTDN

Graydar Proving Popular at Keeneland

Grade I winner Graydar (Unbridled’s Song) has proven popular with his first weanlings going through the Keeneland November sales ring this week. The 6-year-old stallion, who stands at Taylor Made for $15,000, was represented by a pair of $185,000 weanlings Wednesday. Cavalier Bloodstock paid that amount for hip 591, a son of Fiery Pulpit (Pulpit), and McMahon & Hill Bloodstock matched that price for hip 632, a colt out of Heavenly Ghost (Ghostzapper). Through three days of the November sale, Graydar has had five weanlings sell for an average of $125,800 and a median of $135,000.

The positive early results are no surprise to Taylor Made’s Mark Taylor, who likened Graydar’s first crop to that of his late sire.

“We had seen all the Graydars before the sale and we were really blown away,” Taylor said. “It was deja vu back to Unbridled’s Song’s first crop. There were Unbridled’s Songs that were gray, there were bigger ones, there were more medium-sized ones, but they all had this intangible quality–they were just nice horses. And I think that’s what I am seeing with Graydar. You can’t say they are a certain cookie cutter mold, but they just have this intangible class about them. And I think that is what people are picking up on and that’s what they like.”

Graydar, beaten once in six starts, won the 2013 GI Donn H. for Twin Creeks Racing Stable. He also captured that year’s GII Kelso H. and GII New Orleans H.

Taylor looks for the positive reviews to continue for Graydar.

“We thought his weanlings would be well received and luckily we’ve been right so far,” Taylor commented. “I think the momentum will just keep growing. There are some really nice ones still coming up in the sale.” @JessMartiniTDN

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