$1.2M Half-Brother To Mage Leads Competitive Book 2 Opener at Keeneland

Session-topping hip 669 | Keeneland

By Jessica Martini & Christina Bossinakis

LEXINGTON, KY – The Keeneland September Yearling Sale's first Book 2 session continued right on from where the auction's elite Book 1 section concluded, producing strong results largely in line with last year's record-setting renewal.

During Wednesday's session, 209 yearlings sold for $64,024,000. The session average of $306,335 and the median was $255,000. During last year's Book 2 opener, 219 head grossed $66,695,000 for an average of $304,543 and a median of $250,000. With 83 horses reported not sold, the buy-back rate was 28.42%. It was 26.01% a year ago.

“We've got to be very happy with the way the day turned out, obviously, being on par with last year's figure,” said Keeneland Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy. “Early in the day it was a little slower, but it picked up and charged on very strongly right to the end. It was great to see the active trade. Buyers are finding it very competitive. It bodes well for tomorrow.”

Wednesday's opening session of Book 2 produced an additional five million-dollar yearlings, led by a $1.2-million son of McKinzie who is a half-brother to GI Kentucky Derby winner Mage. The yearling, purchased for Lee and Susan Searing's CRK Stables, was consigned by Runnymede Farm, which also consigned the day's second highest-priced offering, a colt by Gun Runner who sold for $1.15 million to Repole Stable and Spendthrift Partners. Through three sessions, 28 yearlings have sold for seven figures. Thirty yearlings reached that threshold at the entire 2022 auction.

Thirty-nine horses that brought $500,000 or more Wednesday, while 29 horses reached that mark a year ago.

“That's a significant increase,” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Cormac Breathnach said of that comparison. “And we are up half-a-million ahead of the gross this year compared to a record sale last year. RNAs are just a touch higher than we would want and we are cognizant of that, but the activity is all there. The median and average are just a couple percent higher than they were last year, so it's an extremely good sale. The soft spot is just probably in the buy-back rate and we would like to see that come down. But it's a competitive market and people have good horses that they are willing to protect.”

While the top of the market remains strong, demand underneath those elite offerings remains a major question mark as the Keeneland sale moves into its later books.

“The market has been very strong,” Spendthrift's Ned Toffey said. “The big question is, how long does this hold up? Obviously, you're starting to see a little bit of a tail-off [Wednesday], but it's still strong. When we get into Books 3 and 4, down to the real meat and potatoes, those numbers are very important. They'll say a lot about the market moving forward. But it's been strong so far, beginning in [Fasig-Tipton] July and to a greater degree Saratoga. Fasig put together a great catalog, and now Keeneland with Book 1, which was very strong. But it'll be interesting to see what happens later on in this sale.”

Book 2 concludes with a Thursday session beginning at 11 a.m. Following a dark day Friday, the Keeneland September sale continues through Sept. 23 with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.




McKinzie Half to Mage Brings $1.2 Million

A colt by McKinzie, who is a half-brother to GI Kentucky Derby winner Mage (Good Magic) (hip 669), attracted a final bid of $1.2 million from Dottie Ingordo on behalf of Lee and Susan Searing's CRK Stable. Ingordo, sitting alongside April Mayberry, signed for the colt in the name of Mayberry Farm.

“He's a very athletic colt and we would like to have a nice colt,” Ingordo said. “And obviously, there's a fabulous pedigree, and a young mare, so it has a lot of positives. And you always want one with a lot of presence, and he has that.”

The yearling was consigned by Runnymede Farm on behalf of his breeder, Grandview Equine. He is out of stakes winner and graded placed 'TDN Rising Star' Puca (Big Brown), who is a half-sister to Grade I winner Finnegans Wake (Powerscourt {GB}).

Grandview Equine purchased Puca for $475,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton November sale. The group sold Mage for $235,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September sale and he re-sold for $290,000 at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale. His 2-year-old full-brother, Dornoch, sold for $325,000 at Keeneland last September and was most recently runner-up in the Sapling S. at Monmouth Park Aug. 26 after finishing second on Saratoga debut July 29.

“We didn't know what to expect,” Clay admitted after watching the mare's yearling colt sell Wednesday. “We knew he was going to sell well, but we didn't know how far they would go. We had a couple of really interested parties. We are thrilled with that result.”

Puca herself has an upcoming date with the Keeneland sales ring.

“She is in the sale in November,” Clay said of the 11-year-old mare who is carrying a full-sibling to the Derby winner. “We kept the filly, but she is in the sale. She's never going to be worth more than she is right now, so we are going to try to take some chips off the table and see if we can do it again.”

Grandview retained Mage's half-sister Gunning (Gun Runner), who RNA'd for $70,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September sale and is now twice stakes-placed.

Grandview was selling its first yearling at this year's Keeneland sale Wednesday, but purchased three colts, going to $1.1 million for a colt by Into Mischief (hip 18); $1 million for a son of Curlin out of Songbird (hip 325); and $400,000 for a son of Nyquist (hip 35).

“It's hard to buy,” Clay said of the market. “This was the only one we sold, so it was a good sale.”

Hip 669 completed a trio of seven-figure sales for Runnymede Farm, which sold a $2-million son of Uncle Mo (hip 154) Tuesday and a Gun Runner colt (hip 614) for $1.15 million earlier in Wednesday's session.

“The sense of gratitude is just tremendous,” said Brutus Clay. “We feel so blessed to have the team we have–all the grooms, assistant managers. For me, we have this land that has been in the family, so I can't take credit for that. To be a good steward of that is incredible.”




Repole, Spendthrift Team for Gun Runner Colt

The partnership of Mike Repole and Spendthrift Partners made its biggest purchase of the Keeneland September sale so far when going to $1.15 million to acquire a colt by Gun Runner (hip 614) Wednesday.

“I was bidding on the wrong horse,” Mike Repole quipped when asked what he liked about the chestnut colt who was consigned and co-bred by the Clay family's Runnymede Farm.

Repole smiled before continuing, “In my opinion, he was the best colt of the day. The team liked him. He was the only one that we liked a lot. We thought he would go for a little bit less, like we always do. But I think the right people were on him. Sometimes when you get a couple of the right people on them, you pay a little bit more than you want. But he's a nice horse and we love Gun Runner. We will see.”

The colt is out of Margate Gardens (Speightstown), a full-sister to graded winner Bridgetown.

“He is a perfect mover, very efficient on his feet. He is a very good cross between Gun Runner and Speightstown,” Runnymede's Romaine Malhouitre said. “He has the power of Speightstown and the quality of Gun Runner. He was an early May foal and he was always compact with that beautiful walk. We knew he would come here and show himself quite well, but we didn't expect he would go that high.”

The mare was purchased by Runnymede and Peter Callahan for $240,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale.

“The mare is owned in partnership with Peter Callahan who has more than 30 years with the Clay family and Runnymede,” Malhouitre said. “We've been investing in mares quite a bit the last 10 years. For him to be rewarded like this is special.”

Repole teamed with Spendthrift to purchase three yearlings Wednesday. In addition to hip 614, the partners scooped up a pair of colts by Into Mischief: hip 573 for $650,000 and hip 506 for $300,000. Through three sessions, the group has acquired five yearlings for a total of $3.3 million.

“I think it might be cheaper if I buy half of Spendthrift [Farm],” Repole joked. “I have to ask Eric and Tamara [Gustavson] and maybe they'd consider it.”

Spendthrift is already home to Repole runners Vino Rosso and Mo Donegal and the New Yorker hinted that pair of Grade I winners could soon have company.

“I am enjoying being partners with Spendthrift,” Repole said. “They have Vino Rosso on the farm, they have Mo Donegal on the farm and, I don't know, maybe one day they will have one of my good 3-year-olds on their farm.”

On his own account, Repole has now purchased 26 yearlings for $9.8 million. @JessMartiniTDN




D.J. Stable 'Zigging When Everyone is Zagging' for a Tapit Filly

The narrative surrounding much of the top-tier yearlings in Keeneland's Book 1 was dominated by a pair of stallions and buying entities and partnerships looking for the Classic-type colt. The tide appeared to start to shift with the onset of Book 2. Well into Wednesday's session, D.J. Stable extended to $1.1 million for Hip 589, a daughter of Tapit. Jon Green, seated in the pavilion alongside his father Len and trainer Mark Casse, signed the ticket on the Gainesway-consigned filly, who ended the session as the top-priced offering of her sex on the day.

“We went out in the rain and actually looked at her and it was just one of those fillies that, when they come out of the barn, you hope that it is the one that you asked for,” said Jon Green. “She had all the right parts in all the right places. I don't get enamored with too many horses…certainly this filly took my breath away. Mark Casse, our trainer, went to go look at her independently from us and we compared notes and there was no doubt that she was the No. 1 filly on both of our lists.”

He continued, “I really have to hand it to my father on this one. This is a filly that we all really liked, and I get nervous spending a lot of money on a horse because they're fragile animals and you don't know how they'll react to training and racing, but he had all the confidence in the world in her. From the word go, whenever we were talking about horses, he would say 'well how does that compare to that Tapit filly'. Obviously, he was very enamored with her. He put his money where his mouth is and we're all very excited.”

The Feb. 19 foal is out of dual graded-stakes winning Lady's Island (Greatness), who was purchased by Gainesway for $310,000 at Fasig-Tipton Winter Mixed Sale in 2021. The 9-year-old mare also produced a colt by the Gainesway sire earlier this season. Gainesway also realized a significant score later in the session with Hip 717, a filly by Karakontie (Jpn), who brought $525,000. Her dam, Smart Emma (Smart Strike), was secured by Gainesway for $95,000 at Fasig-Tipton's Winter Mixed sale in 2020.

“I've never seen a horse change as much in the last 90 days,” said Gainesway's Brian Graves of the bay filly. “She just really started shaping up, developing, and growing the right way. All the trainers really loved her. She got vetted a ton. She developed at the right time. It's been one of the best sales we've had in a very long time.”

In a market where many of the big money-driven entities were fighting it out for the same yearlings by the 'now' stallions, Team Green has opted to take a slightly different approach.

“Our program, we can't outspend people,” Green said. “We have to look for trends and zig when they're zagging, so thankfully, we helped set a trend by having an Into Mischief champion [Eclipse Award-winning juvenile filly Wonder Wheel]. But now, everybody is after the Into Mischiefs. You forget that there are really great stallions out there like Tapit, that are now 'under the radar' even almost forgotten about because they're not hot and sexy and new. So, that's why we're leaning more into those kinds of horses. You know earlier on we bid on a Candy Ride and got her, we bought a Quality Road , and these are just great sires for colts and fillies.”

D.J. purchased three additional yearlings at Keeneland: in Book 1, Hip 242 ($300,000, Candy Ride {Arg}); and during Book 2, Hip 463 ($525,000, Quality Road) and Hip 614 ($425,000, War Front

More 'Mischief' to Kick Off Book 2

In an ongoing embarrassment of riches, another colt by Into Mischief realized the first seven-figure sum of the afternoon to launch Book 2. West Point Thoroughbreds' Terry Finley handled the signing duties on behalf of an undefined partnership, that included several of the group's buying partners from earlier in the sale.

“He's really athletic and had a great mind,” said Finley. “I think he has a huge amount of upside.”

Consigned by breeder Clearsky Farms, Hip 521 is out of Grade III winner Ever So Clever (Medaglia d'Oro), a daughter of MSW and MGSP Foxy Danseur (Mr. Greeley), and was hammered down for $1.1 million.




Commenting on the colt's late foaling date, Finley explained, “He is a June 1 foal. My analogy is kind of like he's a kindergarten kid out on the playground with second and third graders. I'd love to see him in a couple of months to compare and contrast.”

On Wednesday, West Point also went to $600,000 for Hip 540, a colt by Tapit who was consigned by Gainesway; and Hip 681, a colt by Gun Runner purchased in partnership with Talla Racing for $675,000.

Asked about the current atmosphere in the sales and racing markets, Finley explained, “Partners are attracted to our game, especially at the top level, it is intriguing to a lot of people,” he said. “Obviously, we are in the partnership business, and our business is to attract new people. I think they see that our industry is trying to get better, and that is very, very important. And the vast majority are trying to get better. I see other partnerships, trainers and agents are getting new people to the game. Our game can't do anything but improve for people that come in and are treated fairly and they have a shot at the big time.” —@CbossTDN

Spendthrift Lends Support to Sire Lineup, Enjoys Dream Run at Keeneland

Headed by kingpin Into Mischief, the yearlings by Spendthrift Farm's stallions offered at this year's Keeneland September sale have been attracting plenty of attention through the first three days of selling. Among the youngster's gaggle of pursuers, Spendthrift has been stepping up to expand its own personal stock, headed by several yearlings by its own sire roster.

“We probably focus a little bit more on our stallions,” said Spendthrift's Ned Toffey. “We like to partner up and we also buy a number of horses with the colt's group. We are willing to partner on other colts and fillies by other stallions.”

He continued, “We don't buy horses by our stallions just for the sake of it. They need to be the kind of physical and meet up to the standards for any horse we would buy. It's a credit to our stallions that we are able to buy a number of them, horses that are meeting those standards.”

After buying six head–alone or in partnership–through Book 1, the operation collected five more on the opening day of Book 2.

Leading the way was Hip 614, a colt by Gun Runner who was purchased in partnership with Repole Stable for $1.15 million  Wednesday.

“We're just looking for pedigree and athleticism,” he said. “We like that residual value, that individual that we'll keep in our broodmare band at the end of the day. And hopefully the colts achieve enough that it'll be something we want in our stud barn.”

Wednesday's acquisitions, however, were largely dominated by yearlings by Spendthrift resident stallions, including the most expensive member of the group, Hip 427, a colt by Omaha Beach, who brought $675,000.

Consigned by Pope McLean's Crestwood Farm, the May 3 foal is out of SP American Queen (Quiet American), making him a half-brother to Honey I'm Good (Shackleford). This represents the family of Grade I winner Classy Cathy.

Freshman sire Omaha Beach enjoyed a recent boost on the racetrack with an impressive Del Mar score by the fleet filly Sandy Bottom at Del Mar Aug. 10.

“He has some really nice athletes,” said Toffey. “He's got horses that are breaking their maidens at the right kind of tracks. He's getting a beautiful animal and they are showing what kind of athletes they are. With his ability and pedigree, he's starting to live up to people's expectations of him.”

In partnership with Repole Stable Wednesday, Spendthrift also secured a pair of colts by Into Mischief (Hip 506 and Hip 573) after haltering a colt by the supersire Tuesday (Hip 314, $600,000).

“This year, he's now up to 15 $1-million plus yearlings,” Toffey said of Spendthrift's marquee sire. “I think his [best quality] is his mental toughness. You probably have to start with ability, but that doesn't mean anything if they don't want to try. His offspring try, they are mentally tough and like to compete and to train. They are blue-collar workers in the elite athlete arena.”

Spendthrift's Book 1 purchases was led by a colt by Not This Time, secured in partnership with BSW/Crow Colts Group for $650,000.

“It's very competitive bidding out there, and partnering up seems to be the trend out there right now, and it spreads the funds out a little bit,” he said. “It's very tough to buy two or three horses and think that you are going to get the kind of results that we're looking for. So you have to give yourself plenty of chances.”

Flying solo, Spendthrift also snapped up a trio of yearlings by Authentic through the first three days–Hip 32 (filly, $300,000); Hip 71 (colt, $250,000) on Day 1 and Hip 706 (colt, $375,000) on Day 3.

“This is one of the most select sales in the world, so for a first-year stallion to get the quality mares is one thing, but they still have to get the type of physical that the buyers are looking for,” he explained.

Setting the bar at Keeneland for the stallion thus far, Authentic was represented by Hip 168, who realized a $900,000 final bid from BC Stables on Day 1.

He said, “Authentic has shown through the sale season so far that he's absolutely doing that. By the number and the sales average that you're seeing. He's getting it done.”

Toffey also remains bullish on resident first-season sire Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}), who has 10 yearlings catalogued at Keeneland this year, and Thousand Words (Pioneerof the Nile), who will be represented later this sales season.

In Book 1, Vekoma had two sell, headed by Hip 369, who brought $240,000. The Grade I winner's 2023 fee is $15,000, while Thousand Words stands for $5,000.

“We're very excited about Vekoma, he is just a lower price point. You're going to start to see his yearlings come out here now,” he said. “And then later on, at a lower price point, you'll start to see Thousand Words, who is also a first year horse. He's a beautiful animal and was a $1-million yearling himself and he's producing horses that look just like him. The superlatives on the Vekomas have been extraordinary. We expect for those two to sell extremely well. So you should see some really nice example of all of those horses moving forward.”–@CbossTDN

Uncle Mo Colt to Pin Oak

Jim and ana Bernhard's Pin Oak Stud, which has enjoyed top-level success this year with GI TVG.com Haskell S. winner Geaux Rocket Ride (Candy Ride {Arg}), acquired a colt by Uncle Mo (hip 528) for $1 million Wednesday at Keeneland.

“He's a beautiful Uncle Mo colt,” the Bernhards' advisor Matt Weinmann said. “He had really nice physiology. Uncle Mo is having a pretty incredible sale next to Into Mischief, so we knew he would cost.”

He continued, “Obviously, Book 1 was very, very strong. Probably the strongest Book 1 I've seen in my lifetime anyway. I think you are going to pay when there is a good one. And we are hoping this is a good one.”

The yearling was bred by Andrew Black's Chasemore Farm and was consigned by Hunter Valley Farm. He is out of Flighty Almighty (GB) (Elusive Quality), a half-sister to group winner Boomer (GB) (Kingman {GB}).

“It's fantastic; a great price for the horse, well above our expectations,” said Hunter Valley's Adrian Regan. “He's a lovely colt; very straightforward, very typical of Uncle Mo. I wish them the very best of luck.”

Pin Oak returned later in Wednesday's session to purchase a colt by Tiz the Law (hip 668) for $550,000, a colt by Munnings (hip 643) for $225,000, a colt by Medaglia d'Oro (hip 733) for $175,000, a colt by Hard Spun (hip 738) for $150,000, and a colt by Volatile (hip 757) for $400,000. @JessMartiniTDN

Searings Find a 'Bargain' Into Mischief

After a bevy of $1-million Book 1 yearlings by Into Mischief, Dottie Ingordo agreed it felt like a bargain to get a daughter of the super sire (hip 451) for $875,000 early in the first Book 2 session Wednesday at Keeneland.

“We rated her at $900,000 to a million,” Ingordo said after signing the ticket as Mayberry Farm on behalf of Lee and Susan Searing's CRK Stables. “That was right within the scope, so Lee said I got a deal.”

Ingordo, along with her husband, trainer John Shirreffs and April Mayberry and Lisa McGreevy, have been working the Keeneland sale and all agreed this was the filly they wanted.

“She's a big, strong-looking filly and we love Into Mischief,” Ingordo said. “She had a nice pedigree. John was here and we were doing the inspections and he just thought she was a wow and everybody agreed.”

The bay filly is out of multiple stakes winner and Grade I placed Belle of the Hall (Graeme Hall) and is a half-sister to multiple graded winner Share the Ride (Candy Ride {Arg}). She was bred by Seclusive Farm and was consigned by Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa.

“She was shown almost 200 times,” Hill 'n' Dale's Jared Burdine said. “She's the belle of Book 2. Everybody loved her. She's a beautiful filly who did everything right.” @JessMartiniTDN

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