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Market Remains Strong at Keeneland January

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House Rules | Keeneland

By Jessica Martini & Christie DeBernardis

Bidding remained competitive throughout the day as the Book 1 portion of the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale concluded Tuesday in Lexington. David Hanley of WinStar Farm made the highest bid of the day when going to $750,000 to acquire multiple graded stakes winner House Rules (Distorted Humor) from the Blackwood Stables consignment as part of the J. V. Shields’s dispersal.

“I thought today’s session was quite strong all the way through,” Keeneland’s Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell said at the close of business Tuesday. “It was a continuation of yesterday, with the short yearlings selling exceptionally well and the mares stepped up to the plate, too.”

Through the first two sessions of the four-day auction, Keeneland sold 465 horses for a total of $38,857,300. The average was $83,564 and the median was $37,000. Nineteen horses sold for $300,000 or more during Book 1, up from 14 during the 2018 Book 1.

During Book 1 at the 2018 auction, 415 horses sold for $28,302,000. The average was $68,198 and the median was $37,000. Two horses sold for seven figures in the book, led by the $1.6-million Mrs McDougal (Medaglia d’Oro).

While Tuesday’s second session of the January auction lacked the fireworks provided by Monday’s $5-million sale of champion Abel Tasman (Quality Road), competition for young, well-covered mares remained high.

“Obviously, we didn’t have an Abel Tasman today, but the mares that were here sold very well,” Russell said. “House Rules, in foal to Quality Road, is the complete package–a graded stakes winner in foal to one of the hottest stallions in the world. I thought she was very well sold at that price and she goes to a good home in WinStar. We’re sorry for the circumstances for the sale. Mr. Shields was a good friend.”

After signing the ticket on Tuesday’s session topper, Hanley admitted, “For the mares you want, it’s tough. There aren’t that many of them and they all are landing on the same ones. But she’s the one we wanted to get today. So we’re really happy.”

Tuesday’s buy-back rate was 21.68%, bringing the two-day figure to 25.60%. It was 32.41% at the same point last year.

Russell credited the high clearance rate on consignors setting realistic reserves.

“These are very professional people,” he said of the sellers. “They have a good gauge on the market, they know what sells. The market is bringing the prices. So I would throw the credit back to the consignors who have adjusted to the market and have priced their horses correctly.”

Quality continued to be key in the selective marketplace, according to bloodstock agent David Ingordo.

“People want quality and if you have quality, you are going to get rewarded,” Ingordo said. “There are nice horses right below that that, if you give up this or that, you get good value. There are some horses that just aren’t worth it and that is reflected in their sales price. If you are honest with yourself about what your horse is worth, you will do fine.”

The Keeneland January sale continues through Thursday with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.

WinStar Makes the House Rules

WinStar Farm General Manager David Hanley struck late in Tuesday’s second session of the Keeneland January sale to acquire multiple graded stakes winner House Rules (Distorted Humor) (hip 779) for a session-topping $750,000. The 8-year-old mare, in foal to Quality Road, was consigned by Blackwood Stables as agent for the dispersal of the bloodstock of the late J V Shields, Jr.

“First of all, Distorted Humor,” Hanley answered when asked about the mare’s appeal. “She has a ton of quality. She’s a really beautiful mare and was obviously a really top runner. And we loved the cover. We are excited to see the Quality Road out of her, we think that’s a great mating for her. We’ve been waiting for her all day and we’re delighted to get her.”

House Rules, co-bred by WinStar and El Catorce Inc., was purchased for $90,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling in 2012. She won the 2015 GIII Top Flight H. and GIII Rampart S. in Shields’s colors. Out of Grade I placed Teamgeist (Arg) (Mutakddim), House Rules is a half-sister to Grade I placed Win the Space (Pulpit).

Longtime owner and breeder Shields passed away last October. During his time in racing, Shields served as Director of the New York Racing Association, Director of the Breeders’ Cup, Trustee of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and Trustee of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He was a founding member of the National Thoroughbred Association and a member of The Jockey Club.

Blackwood Stables sold five horses on behalf of the phase 1 of the Shields’ dispersal Tuesday at Keeneland. In addition to House Rules, the dispersal also included multiple graded stakes winner Classic Point (Flatter) (hip 672), who sold for $370,000 to Catherine Parke on behalf of Marc Keller and graded stakes placed Full House (Discreetly Mine) (hip 739), who brought a final bid of $240,000 from Atlantic Bloodstock.

“It is a very bittersweet moment, but we are glad the market appreciated all of Jerry Shields’s horses,” said Katey Caddel, director of client relations and bloodstock for Blackwood Stables. “He was an avid supporter of the sport and truly loved this game and that is reflected in his horses. We are proud to sell them here, but obviously it’s a bittersweet moment.” @JessMartiniTDN

Three Chimneys Holds Out For the ‘Best’

Though Three Chimneys Farm was the underbidder on a few horses earlier in the sale, the historic operation held out for one they really wanted with the farm’s COO Chris Baker fending off all comers late in Tuesday’s session to take home GISP Best Performance (Broken Vow) for $560,000.

“She is by a stallion we have a lot of respect for,” said a smiling Baker after signing the ticket on hip 795A. “She is very good looking and she can run. In this day and age, if you like them, or like that many things about them, you have to stretch to get them. We are happy to have her.”

As for future plans, he said, “We will breed her in 2019. We don’t know to who yet.”

A $185,000 KEESEP buy turned $300,000 FTFMAR juvenile purchase, Best Performance retired with a record of 10-1-5-0 and earnings of $398,448. Campaigned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Tango Uniform Racing and Robert Masiello, the Christophe Clement trainee completed the exacta in five black-type events during her 2017 juvenile campaign, including the GIII Schuylerville S. on the dirt, and in the GIII Miss Grillo S. and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on that surface. The chestnut made her final start in November.

“I think if you look at the stakes placings she had, in the Breeders’ Cup, a Grade I, as a 2-year-old, it is probably more ability–even though it didn’t show up on the catalogue page–for us, that she had Grade I class,” Baker said.”

Out of the Smart Strike mare Give My Regards, Best Performance is a half to SP My California (Calimonco) and hails from the family of GSW Broadway Empire (Empire Maker). She was consigned by Lane’s End, who was the session’s leading consignor by gross receipts, with 22 horses selling for $2,429,000–an average of $110,409.

West Point Thoroughbreds was also represented by SW Lavender Chrissie (Scat Daddy), who sold to David Ingordo on behalf of Montia Holdings LLC for $400,000 carrying her first foal by Union Rags. @CDeBernardisTDN

Media Mischief to Springhouse Farm

Media Mischief (Into Mischief) (hip 440) will be joining the broodmare band at Springhouse Farm after Gabriel Duignan signed the ticket at $450,000 to acquire the 5-year-old mare in foal to Pioneerof the Nile.

“She is a nice mare with a nice page,” Duignan said of the mare, who was consigned by Eaton Sales. “There is a lot to like about her.”

Out of Media Nox (GB), Media Mischief is a half-sister to multiple Group 1 winner Nebraska Tornado (Storm Cat) and group winners Burning Sun (Danzig) and Mirabilis (Lear Fan).

Bred by Juddmonte Farms, Media Mischief made two starts in Khalid Abdullah’s colors in 2017 before selling for 250,000gns to Mercer Bloodstock at the Tattersalls December sale. In foal to Pioneerof the Nile, she RNA’d for $475,000 at last year’s Keeneland November sale.

The pedigree has been active in the U.S. recently. Media Nox’s daughter Imprecation (First Defence) is the dam of 3-year-old Anothertwistafate (Scat Daddy), who has impressed in a pair of wins at Golden Gate Fields and is expected to head towards the Feb. 16 El Camino Real Derby.

Duignan acknowledged that colt’s Northern California exploits added to Media Mischief’s appeal.

“He could be very good,” Duignan said of Anothertwistafate. “I know it’s Golden Gate, but he could be very, very good. He’s not your ordinary Golden Gate horse.” @JessMartiniTDN

‘Sweet’ Buy for Hyde

Breeder Tim Hyde added one of Tuesday’s more popular mares to his band when going to $420,000 to secure Sweet Dreams (Candy Ride {Arg}), who was the only mare in foal to Tapit offered at Keeneland January.

“I thought she was very pretty,” Hyde said of hip 568. “Her foal was very nice that was here in November. She is a good-looking mare and she is carrying a Tapit. We will probably resell the baby as a yearling.”

Bred by Courtlandt Farm, Sweet Dreams is out of SW & GSP Cat Charmer (Storm Cat) and is a half-sister to MGSW Strike Charmer (Smart Strike). Gail Cox purchased the dark bay for $67,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September Sale and she won one of three starts.

Sweet Dreams RNA’d for $220,000 at Keeneland November in 2015 carrying a foal by Animal Kingdom. The resulting foal, a filly named Bentley’s Dream was a $65,000 KEENOV weanling turned $325,000 FTSAUG yearling and she won on debut for Lothenbach Stables at Churchill Downs in November. Sweet Dreams was purchased by McMahon and Hill Bloodstock on behalf of Buscar Stable for $180,000 at the 2016 KEENOV sale in foal to Street Sense and that colt brought $210,000 from Japanese interests at the following year’s November sale. That operation sold her 2018 Tapit colt this past November to Alex Solis and Jason Litt for $380,000.

“She was a standout as the only mare in foal to Tapit,” said Sergio de Sousa of Hidden Brook, who consigned the mare.

“Her broodmare career got started off on a good note with her first foal winning first time out. Mission accomplished for us. Well done to the owners and good luck to the new connections.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Ingordo Strikes for Lavender Chrissie

Stakes winner Lavender Chrissie (Scat Daddy) (hip 410) got things rolling early in Tuesday’s session when selling for $400,000 to bloodstock agent David Ingordo, who was acting on behalf of a longtime client. Consigned by Lane’s End, the 7-year-old mare sold in foal to Union Rags.

“She was a lovely yearling,” Ingordo said after signing the ticket out back. “We knew her from a yearling. She is in foal to Union Rags. Scat Daddy needs no introduction. He is going to be a super broodmare sire. She was, on physical, as pretty of a mare as was going to walk up here.”

He continued, “This client is going to build a commercial racing/broodmare band. He knows I work at Lane’s End and he knew the mare was there, so he said if you like her, buy her. She will probably go to one of our stallions at Lane’s End.”

A $185,000 KEESEP yearling purchase by West Point Thoroughbreds, Lavender Chrissie won four of her eight starts for trainer Dale Romans, highlighted by a victory in the 2015 Zia Park Oaks. She RNA’d for $290,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton November Sale, after which she was put back in training. The gray made just one more start in April of 2017 before being officially retired with earnings of $281,093.

A full-sister to MGSP Gossamer Wings, Lavender Chrissie is a half-sister to GSW Baby J (J Be K) and SW & GISP Laureate Conductor (Bernstein). @CDeBernardisTDN

Union Rags Colt Proves Popular at KEEJAN

A yearling colt by Union Rags (hip 621) was a hot commodity at Keeneland January Tuesday and ultimately sold to Gerry Dilger for $390,000.

Bred by Kinnickinnic Stables, the bay is the first foal out of Zondaq (Bernardini), a half-sister to GSW & GISP Discreet Dancer (Discreet Cat); GSW Travelin Man (Trippi); and SW & GSP Sweet N Discreet (Discreet Cat). Zondaq, a $425,000 KEESEP yearling, was purchased by New Providence Bloodstock for $190,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton February Sale and made two starts for Mike Ryan and trainer Rudy Rodriguez before retiring in the fall of 2016. The colt was consigned here by Indian Creek.

“He was really well received,” said Indian Creek’s Shack Parrish. “It was a little bit above what we expected, but we loved it. Credit should go, I must say, to our former farm manager, who left on the 31st and did the majority of the prep on this guy.”

Indian Creek sold another pricey short yearling later in the sale in hip 795F, a colt by Kitten’s Joy out of Illegal Search (Officer), who summoned $250,000 from Dudley Racing. The bay was bred by Susan King in partnership with Ken and Sarah Ramsey. @CDeBernardisTDN

McMahon Gets Happy

Bloodstock agent Mike McMahon wasn’t able to acquire a weanling from the first crop of Runhappy at the November sales, but he rectified that Tuesday at Keeneland when purchasing a son of the sprint champion for $250,000.

“Runhappy is really a sire that we wanted to buy a colt by and this was the best colt here,” McMahon said. “He stacked up really high with the colts we tried to buy in November. We’ve been after a Runhappy for a while.”

Hip 560 is out of multiple stakes winner Summer Cruise (Vicar) and is a half-brother to graded stakes winner Sandbar (War Pass) and stakes placed Cruzette (War Pass). He was bred by Matthew Ernst and Martha Buckner and was consigned by her family’s Clarkland Farm.

Clarkland purchased Summer Cruise, in foal to Lea, for $100,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. Her filly by Lea sold for $110,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November sale and resold for $150,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale.

Runhappy had 14 weanlings sell at the Keeneland November sale for an average of $149,643 and a median of $145,000. The stallion stands at Claiborne Farm for $25,000.

Asked what has impressed about the champion’s first crop of foals, McMahon said, “They have lots of quality. They are forward horses, bright and good-shaped. They have great hind legs and conformation.”

Hip 560 is likely destined for a return engagement in the sales ring later in the year.

“He’ll pinhook,” McMahon said. “Probably at [Fasig-Tipton] Saratoga, but not necessarily. It could be Keeneland, too. We’ll just play it by ear and see how he develops. He’ll get every chance.” @JessMartiniTDN

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