$550k Evocative on Top as Late Fireworks Propel Keeneland January to Strong Opener

Evocative | Keeneland photo


LEXINGTON, KY – The Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale, which began sluggishly Monday morning, built up steam throughout the day and ended with a trio of firework offerings and figures largely in line with the auction's 2022 renewal.

“The beginning of the day was definitely slower than we probably expected,” said Keeneland's Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy. “It was a little sluggish. But as the day went on, it became more promising.”

At the close of business Monday, 224 head had sold for $16,261,900. The average was $72,598 and the median was $40,000. During last year's opening session, 248 horses sold for $17,989,200. The average was $72,537 and the median was $39,500.

The session RNA rate was 31.29%. It was 25.75% a year ago.

“The RNA rate was a little higher than probably we would have been expecting at the beginning of the day,” said Lacy. “However, quality was selling and selling well. The major buyers were here. The domestic market was strong. It's a follow-on from November. You could see a trend that was continuing on. Overall, you have to be very content with how it went. And it ended up very even with last year in many metrics.”

While the RNA rate might have been high for horses walking out of the ring, there was still active trade back at the barns.

“Our yearlings have done well,” said Frank Taylor of Taylor Made Sales Agency, which sold a colt by Gun Runner for $400,000 midway through the day. “We've had a few RNAs, but we've sold several of them after the sale. The aftermarket is pretty good. If you've got a good one, they sell well.”

Bloodstock agent Kerri Radcliffe, bidding on behalf of an undisclosed client, made the day's highest bid when going to $550,000 for Evocative (Pioneerof the Nile), while Jacob West secured that mare's first foal, a short yearling by Quality Road, for $450,000 on behalf of Robert and Lawana Low. Becky Thomas secured Ack Naughty (Afleet Alex), dam of recent GII Los Alamitos Futurity winner Practical Move (Practical Joke), for $500,000 on behalf of Chester and Mary Broman.

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

Evocative and Daughter Cause Late Fireworks at Keeneland

The first session of the Keeneland January sale produced its three biggest results late in the day and, just before the auction headed into its supplemental section, the main catalogue's fireworks were created when the 6-year-old mare Evocative (Pioneerof the Nile) (hip 399), a half-sister to Justwhistledixie (Dixie Union), sold for $550,000 and was followed immediately into the ring by her yearling daughter by Quality Road (hip 400) who brought a final bid of $450,000 from bloodstock agent Jacob West.

Bloodstock agent Kerri Radcliffe signed for Evocative, who sold in foal to Quality Road.

“She's been bought for a commercial breeder and she'll stay in America,” Radcliffe said. “She was beautiful. And look at that pedigree. Then you just saw the foal sell for $450,000–that was beautiful, too.”

Justlewhistledixie is the dam of GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner New Year's Day (Street Cry {Ire}), as well as multiple graded stakes winner Mohaymen (Tapit).

Evocative, who was bred by SF Bloodstock, RNA'd for $375,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September sale. She failed to hit the board in three starts in the SF colors in late 2019 and early 2020 before RNA'ing for $575,000 at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton February sale, for $725,000 while in foal to Tapit at the 2020 Keeneland November sale and again for $460,000 while in foal to Quality Road at the 2021 Keeneland November sale.

After slipping in 2021, her short yearling filly by Quality Road, also bred by SF Bloodstock, is the mare's first foal. West acquired the bay filly on behalf of Robert and Lawana Low.

“She's by Quality Road–he doesn't really need an introduction to anybody,” West said. “She was an outstanding physical and outstanding athlete. From a short yearling perspective, she had one of the best walks I'd seen around here. She's well-bred, but she's a first foal out of a young mare. You'd assume they will breed her to top stallions behind her, so the pipeline can be loaded for the foreseeable future.”

Both broodmare and daughter were consigned by Bedouin Bloodstock.

“We felt good about both of them coming in here,” said Bedouin's Neal Clarke. “We weren't expecting this much obviously. This was a great result. We've had a lot of Evocative sisters and Evocative we foaled ourselves. So it was kind of nice having both the mare and foal that came from the farm. It's a little bittersweet, a little sad to see them go, but they are going to great homes. So we couldn't be happier. It's a great day.”

Bromans Strike for Ack Naughty

Ack Naughty (Afleet Alex) (hip 420B), who was supplemented to the Keeneland January sale after her son Practical Move (Practical Joke) won the Dec. 17 GII Los Alamitos Futurity, will be joining the broodmare band of Chester and Mary Broman after bloodstock agent Becky Thomas signed the ticket at $500,000 to acquire the 11-year-old mare.

“We like that she was a Grade II producer,” Thomas said with a laugh when asked about the mare's appeal. “I bought her for Chester and Mary Broman, who are, of course, leading breeders in New York who I've been so delighted to train for for so many years.”

The mare, who was owned by trainer Chad Brown and Sol Kumin's Head of Plains Partners, was consigned by Elite. She sold in foal to Upstart.

While Thomas said no definite mating plans have been discussed, she added, “Mr. Broman has one of the original breeding rights in Into Mischief, so I have a feeling she might be going to Into Mischief.”

Longtime New York breeders, the Bromans, in what has been termed “estate planning” have been a major force selling from their families in recent years, notably selling the $3.55-million topper at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale.

“Mr. Broman has a phenomenal farm manager in Greg Falk and, in Mr. Broman's planning, as long as we can continue to operate the farm and can keep on going like we are going, he's good to go.”

However, Thomas admitted Ack Naughty did break some of the usual rules she's been given when shopping for broodmares.

“Normally, I'm not allowed to buy anything that old or in foal to only certain stallions,” she said. “[Ack Naughty] falls out of every criteria I've been given. I told him that this was a sidebar action.”

Gun Runner Colt Draws a Crowd

David Wade came out best at $400,000 to acquire a colt by Gun Runner (hip 270) from the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment Monday. The short yearling, bred by the Gun Runner Syndicate and Sun Valley Farm, is the first foal out of Willa (Will Take Charge). The mare is a half-sister to stakes winner and graded-placed Abby's Angel (Touch Gold) and Group 1-placed Miss Jean Brodie (Maria's Mon).

“He seemed like he was the whole package,” Wade said after signing for the colt in the name of Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds. “He had a tremendous presence to him, a great walk. It doesn't get any better than Gun Runner and it's a really nice family. It seemed to us like a no-brainer to go after him.”

As for plans for the colt, Wade said, “It's up in the air. A horse like him, you could race him or pinhook. We tend to pinhook horses like this, but we will see what happens. We will digest it and go back and think about it.”

The final price tag was no surprise to Taylor Made's Frank Taylor.

“It's exactly where we thought he would be,” Taylor said. “He was just a beautiful colt. He's the kind of horse that looks like he could be a Derby horse; a two-turn horse. You can't beat the sire. He has a lot of class–a beautiful eye, good walk, a really good mind. He has it all. He was entered in the November sale and got a little virus that set him back. We just thought we'd give him time to catch back up.”

Williamses Building a Broodmare Band

Pete Williams and his daughter Martha, sitting alongside bloodstock agent Alistair Roden, got the Keeneland January sale off to a quick start Monday when adding Good Fairy (hip 19) to their fledgling broodmare band with a final bid of $330,000.

Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, the unraced mare who was bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, sold in foal to Maclean's Music. She is out of Glinda the Good (Hard Spun) and is a half-sister to champion Good Magic (Curlin).

“She's from an exceptionally good family and she's a very good-looking mare,” Roden said. “She is a young mare carrying her second foal. She has got a foal by Munnings, who is a proven sire, and is in foal to Maclean's Music on an early cover.”

Pete Williams, a real estate developer now based in Alys Beach, Florida began fulfilling a longtime dream when he started buying Thoroughbreds just last year.

“It was a passion,” Williams said. “I always knew I was going to get involved. I was just waiting on the right time to invest and enjoy this game.”

Good Fairy is the fifth broodmare purchased by the Williamses' MKW Racing and Breeding. They purchased Runnin Ruby (Tapit) (hip 149) for $450,000 at last year's Keeneland November sale, while at the Fasig-Tipon February sale, they acquired Ladhiyah (Kitten's Joy) (hip 348) for $85,000 and Minetta (Khozan) (hip 569) for $70,000.

Among a group of five yearling purchases last year, they acquired a filly by Street Sense (hip 80) for $275,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale and a filly by Twirling Candy (hip 273) for $190,000 at the Fasig February sale.

MKW also purchased a 2-year-old last spring, going to $350,000 for a daughter of Uncle Mo (hip 118), now named Mo Town Mayhem, at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale.

“Our focus is on breeding,” Williams said. “We bought five yearlings and a 2-year-old in training. And this is the fifth broodmare. I have one colt. But we are certainly looking to get black-type on those young fillies when they run and breed them.”

Williams continued, “The broodmares stay at Nicky Drion's and the yearlings went down to Woodford Thoroughbreds. The now 3-year-old is with Mark Casse. She had a little upper suspensory problem and she was at Margaux for the last three or four months. She just got shipped down there, so she's starting to train again.”

Martha Williams, who lives in New York, said she was enjoying the experience of building a broodmare band.

“I love doing this,” she said. “It's been a lot of fun to learn–it's a lot to learn. It's still very new. But I feel like I learn so much every time I come to one of these sales and do more with my father. I'm excited about it.”

Pugh Strikes for McKinzie Filly

A filly from the first crop of McKinzie (hip 190) will be targeted for resale later in the year after selling for $220,000 to the bid of Peter Pugh on behalf of Cherry Knoll Farm during Monday's first session of the Keeneland January sale. The short yearling is out of Sisterhood (Kitten's Joy), whose 3-year-old filly Be My Sunshine (Frosted) won first time out at Gulfstream Sunday.

“She had a big update, which helped with the purchase,” Pugh said. “She will be pinhooked to a yearling sale later this year, but it's too early to say which one.”

Also Monday, Pugh purchased a filly by Bolt d'Oro (hip 228) for $65,000.

Pugh had pinhooking success buying out of last year's January sale. He purchased a colt by Gun Runner for $275,000 at the auction and resold the yearling for $450,000 at the Keeneland September sale.

Hip 190 was consigned by Hunter Valley Farm and was bred by Hunter Valley and Pat Barrett.

“She's a beautiful, athletic filly,” said Hunter Valley's Adrian Regan. “McKenzie has done well here and the catalog update helped us a lot. The Frosted filly won very impressively and it proves the family can get a real runner. It's kind of the perfect storm. We weren't going to give her away, but the price did exceed our expectations.”

Hunter Valley purchased Sisterhood, with this filly in utero, for $75,000 at the 2021 Fasig-TIpton November sale, but it was almost a near-miss for the operation which sold Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) for $5 million just four hips before Sisterhood went through the ring.

“We bought the mare at Fasig-Tipton two years ago,” Regan said. “We had just sold Shedaresthedevil and we nearly missed this mare in the ring.”

The 14-year-old Sisterhood, who is also the dam of stakes winner and graded placed In the Mood (Eskendereya), was bred to War of Will in 2022.

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