By Jessica Martini & Brian DiDonato
LEXINGTON, KY – The Keeneland April 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale returned from a four-year hiatus Tuesday in Lexington and a filly by leading sire Tapit provided the fireworks when selling for $1.3 million. The filly (hip 130) was consigned by Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds and was purchased by bloodstock agent Chad Schumer on behalf of Prince Sultan bin Mishal Al Saud, who continued to be a new and active participant at the spring’s 2-year-old sales. The April sale began with a section of horses of racing age and the graded stakes placed 3-year-old filly Sweet Diane (Will Take Charge) was the section’s highest-priced offering when selling for $500,000 to Ina Bond’s River Bend Farm.
“I thought the trade today was very good,” said Keeneland’s Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell. “I thought the racehorses were well received. And I think it continued on very well to the 2-year-old sale. The Tapit filly, obviously, was on everybody’s list–with a good update and a great work. It just shows the money’s here for those kind of horses.”
Through both portions of the sale, 67 head sold for $6,083,500. The average was $90,799 and the median was $40,000.
In all, 22 juveniles sold for a total of $3,387,500. The average was $153,977 and the median was $55,000. With 39 2-year-olds going through the ring, 17 failed to find new homes. At its last edition in 2014, 38 juveniles sold for $8,769,000 for an average of $230,763 and a median of $200,000.
“We’re in a rebuilding process for this sale, so some people are willing to rebuild with us and some people wanted to take a wait-and-see approach,” Russell said. “We hope they saw and will participate next year.”
Schumer looked at Tuesday’s results as something to build on going forward.
“I think it’s a good format,” Schumer said. “I think they need more horses, obviously. But it’s the first year back doing it and I’m sure it will improve.”
Dean De Renzo appreciated the extra time the April sale provided he and Randy Hartley to prepare the sale-topper.
“She is a May foal, and we have taken our time with her,” De Renzo said. “We wanted to target a sale that is a little later in the year. We hope that Keeneland continues having this sale because we love the timing and we love to sell here.”
Saudi Prince Continues Juvenile Buying Spree at Keeneland
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud, who burst onto the juvenile sales scene as a major buyer at last month’s OBS March sale, continued to play at the top end when spending a sale-topping $1.3 million to acquire a daughter of Tapit (hip 130) Tuesday at Keeneland. Emmanuel de Seroux’s Narvick International signed for the prince’s eight purchases at OBS, but it was bloodstock agent Chad Schumer signing the ticket at Keeneland.
“She is a tremendous physical,” Schumer said. “I thought she had a superb breeze [a co-bullet :10 flat] and her gallop-out was very strong. She is a lovely filly and obviously the full-brother makes a big difference. Hopefully, she’ll be a Grade I horse. At that sort of money, she almost has to be. It’s a lot of pressure, but she’s beautiful and we couldn’t be happier with her.”
Consigned by Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds, the bay filly is out of Grade I winner My Conquestadory (Artie Schiller). Her 3-year-old full-brother Bourbon War is on the GI Kentucky Derby trail and co-owners Bourbon Lane Stable watched intently as the filly sold Tuesday.
“She is by one of the leading sires of all time, it’s a massive pedigree. So it’s not an unexpected number,” Schumer said of the final price.
Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud’s eight purchases at OBS were led by a $650,000 daughter of Speightstown.
“He’s just starting to develop a nice stable in the U.S.,” de Seroux said after signing the ticket on that filly at OBS. “In the U.S., I believe this will be his first group of horses.”
It was the highest bid the veteran Schumer had ever made and, after signing the ticket, he admitted, “I think once you get above a certain number, it’s kind of numbing. I don’t know how to explain it. I haven’t done it before, so it hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
The last time Keeneland hosted an April sale in 2014, Schumer came home with a more modestly priced juvenile and future graded stakes winner in Saham (Lemon Drop Kid).
“The last time they had the 2-year-old sale here, I was lucky enough to buy a graded stakes winner,” Schumer. “Saham won the [2015 GIII] Jefferson Cup and I think we gave $100,000 for him.” @JessMartiniTDN
Tapit Filly Sells Well for Baccari
While Chris Baccari typically enjoys his pinhook successes at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale with horses acquired as weanlings, he made a nice score Tuesday with sale-topping hip 130. He acquired the $1.3-million Tapit filly for $775,000 as a Keeneland November weanling in 2017.
SF Bloodstock had paid $1.5 million for Grade I-winning ‘TDN Rising Star’ My Conquestadory (Artie Schiller) while she was carrying hip 130 at the Conquest Stables dispersal at the 2016 Keeneland November sale
Given the buzz the Hartley/De Renzo-consigned miss had garnered after her :10 flat breeze, Baccari said he wasn’t surprised by what hip 130 brought.
“With the kind of pedigree she has–she goes :10 flat, she goes :20 1/5 and :32 2/5, and she looks the way she does. That’s why I had to give so much for her as a foal,” he said.
When asked what he thought of the return of the Keeneland April sale, Baccari said, “I feel safe with this surface, and I wanted to support the sale. It just seemed like the right thing to do. For me, being a person who also races, I want to have them on a good surface where I can go from here [and race them] if I have to.”
Shortly after selling hip 130, Hartley/De Renzo offered hip 142 on Baccari’s behalf, but the :10 1/5 breezer was bought back for $550,000. The daughter of American Pharoah was bred by Baccari’s Seclusive Farm along with Chester and Anne Prince and James Murphy and RNA’d for $385,000 as a KEESEP yearling.
Baccari raced hip 142’s dam Seacrettina (Sea of Secrets) after paying $65,000 for her as a September yearling in 2007. She was a stakes-winning juvenile for him in Baccari’s native Texas. He sold a Medaglia d’Oro colt out of her for $500,000 at September in 2017. —@BDiDonatoTDN
Sweet Diane Leads Racing Prospects
Sweet Diane (Will Take Charge), on the GI Kentucky Oaks points board thanks to a third-place finish in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks, will be joining the barn of trainer Eddie Kenneally after selling for $500,000 to Ina Bond’s River Bend Farm. It was the highest price at the horses of racing age section of the Keeneland April Sale Tuesday.
“We are basically a broodmare farm,” explained River Bend manager Larry Weeden after signing the ticket on the sophomore filly. “We are branching out and going in a new direction and trying to do some racing. We have high hopes that this will turn into something fun.”
The addition of Sweet Diane will double River Bend’s racing stable. The operation currently has Island Song (Speightstown) in training with Kenneally and that 3-year-old gelding was fifth in a maiden special weight at Keeneland Saturday.
“We’ve been selling yearlings here for almost 30 years,” Weeden said. “We’re a small broodmare farm, usually 12 horses or smaller. We are just trying to focus on quality over quantity.”
Weeden continued, “We have a colt that has been running as a 3-year-old at a little bit lower end. And we’ve been having some fun with it, so rather than have to buy an expensive broodmare, we decided to make our own. Not that she was cheap, but if you get a really good racehorse and she makes offspring that run, it costs a lot of money.”
Sweet Diane (hip 90) is out of stakes-placed Inside Passage (Tiznow), who is a half-sister to Glinda the Good (Hard Spun), dam of champion Good Magic. Rick Kanter’s Stallionaire Enterprises purchased her for $130,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling in 2017. She RNA’d for $95,000 at last year’s OBS April sale.
Sweet Diane currently sits 16th on the Kentucky Oaks points board, but Kenneally confirmed the filly would skip the Run for the Lilies.
“We’re just going to take our time with her and get to know her,” Kenneally said. “She is coming from a good operation, so hopefully that will make my job easy.”
Sweet Diane broke her maiden by 13 3/4 lengths at Penn National last September. She missed by just a neck when second in the Hut Hut S. in December and returned this year with a third-place effort in the Feb. 9 Suncoast S. In her final outing for trainer Mike Stidham and Stallionaire Enterprises, Sweet Diane was third in the Mar. 23 Fair Grounds Oaks (PPs).
Stidham admitted it was bittersweet watching Sweet Diane go through the sales ring at Keeneland Tuesday.
“We started her as a 2-year-old and watched her go through all the races that she’s been in,” Stidham said. “She’s been a sweetheart and we hope she continues on to the Grade I status.”
Of the filly’s final price tag, Stidham added, “You never know, but we were hoping somewhere in the $400,000 to $500,000 range and she certainly made it. We are delighted.”
Sweet Diane was consigned by Elite Sales, which sold eight horses of racing age Tuesday for a total of $1.3 million and an average of $163,750 to lead all consignors at the April sale.
“We are thrilled with that result,” Elite’s Brad Weisbord said after watching Sweet Diane sell. “It was way in excess of the reserve. I think it’s a big deal for this Keeneland Horses of Racing Age sale to get it started off with a result like that. We’re delighted for Michael Stidham and Stallionaire Enterprises–they gave us a chance and they are not people we do a ton of business with. We are thankful for Eddie Kenneally and his group for buying the filly. They are going to be in for some great graded stakes fun in the summer and fall.”
Of Elite’s April consignment, Weisbord said, “We had, for an Elite group, overall a marginal group of horses because we are playing at the top end of the market. So we’re used to selling graded winners in November. It’s a little bit of a different go for us, but our clients who support us all year long wanted to trade out some racehorses for their 2-year-olds coming in. So obviously, we wanted to accommodate them.” @JessMartiniTDN
O’Neill Back on the ‘Map’
Dennis O’Neill landed the Keeneland April Sale’s second-priciest 2-year-old and most-expensive colt when he went to $350,000 to secure a member of Liam’s Map’s first crop as hip 126. Consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables, Inc., Agent IV, the grey was a $190,000 KEESEP grand and covered a furlong in a co-fastest :10 flat.
The colt, who is out of GSW Jenny’s So Great (Greatness), will head to Dennis O’Neill’s brother Doug O’Neill and will be campaigned by a group that includes Erik Johnson’s ERJ Racing.
“He was my favorite,” said O’Neill. “Honestly, he’s one of my favorite horses that I’ve seen at a 2-year-old sale. I thought he’d be more than that and honestly didn’t think I’d have a chance to get him. I was really surprised by what I got him for. Erik Johnson, the hockey player, is going to own a big piece of him, and is really, really excited.”
Johnson had sold sophomore colt Weekly Call (Will Take Charge) for $65,000 through the Elite Sales consignment during the horses of racing age portion of the auction.
“I just loved his breeze,” O’Neill said of hip 126. “He looked like he wasn’t comfortable on the track–he was kind of getting in and out down the lane–so to do what he did and then to go back and look at him on the shank, he’s a gorgeous horse. Big, beautiful horse.”
O’Neill had purchased a pair of Liam’s Map weanlings ($310,000 and $65,000) on behalf of Liam’s Map’s co-owner Vinnie Viola at the 2017 Keeneland November sale.
“I’ve talked to Vinnie Viola about him a little bit and I really think he’s got a big, big chance to make it as a sire,” O’Neill said.
A winner of the 2015 GI Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland, Liam’s Map was represented by a $400,000 filly at Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream.
When asked how he was finding the market at Keeneland April, O’Neill said, “I’m glad I came–I wasn’t planning on coming, it was kind of a last-minute thing. I think it’s been a buyer’s market. I think the small catalog kept a lot of people from coming out here. I didn’t see many people from California at all. But I’m really happy with how it’s gone.” —@BDiDonatoTDN
Higher Power Heading West
Fresh off a win in last Saturday’s GI Santa Anita H. with private purchase Gift Box (Curlin), the California-based barn of John Sadler picked up another promising racing prospect in Higher Power (Medaglia d’Oro) Tuesday. Agent David Ingordo did the bidding, and came out on top at $250,000. The well-bred colt was consigned on behalf of his breeder, Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Stud, by trainer Mike Stidham’s Stidham Racing as hip 83.
“He looked good and well cared for,” Ingordo, who did not disclose which of Sadler’s owners he was buying for, said. “We thought he might have a little future on the turf over the tighter surfaces in California. John and Mike Stidham are friends and Mike mentioned the horse to him.”
Higher Power won two of his first three starts before heading into stakes company. He was third in last April’s Northern Spur S. at Oaklawn, and was subsequently transferred from Donnie K. Von Hemel to Stidham. Finishing third twice and fourth once in three Fair Grounds optional claiming tries since the trainer change, he returned to winning ways in a muddy, rained-off heat at Fair Grounds Mar. 16. Click for past performances.
Out of MSW and MGSP Alternate (Seattle Slew), Higher Power is a half to MGSW ‘TDN Rising Star’ and young sire Alternation (Distorted Humor) and MSW/GSP ‘Rising Star’ Interrupted (Broken Vow) and hails from the same female family as MGISW and Canadian Horse of the Year Peaks and Valleys (Mt. Livermore). His dam and Interrupted both excelled on the grass.