Book 3 Concludes At Keeneland With $900k Constitution Colt On Top

Hip 1777 | Keeneland Photo


LEXINGTON, KY – The Keeneland September Yearling Sale continued to produce steady, competitive bidding as the 12-day auction's Book 3 section concluded Sunday in Lexington.

A total of 562 yearlings sold during the two Book 3 sessions for a gross of $86,894,000. The Book 3 average was $152,251–down 4.0% from last year's corresponding figure–and the median fell 8.0% to $115,000.

During last year's Book 3 section, 573 yearlings grossed $90,919,500 for an average of $158,673 and a median of $125,000.

A colt by Constitution brought the section's top price when selling for $900,000 to Pin Oak Stud from the Knockgriffin Farm consignment Sunday. The yearling was one of 13 to bring $500,000 or over during Book 3. There were 19 yearlings to reach that threshold a year ago.

While the Book 3 numbers were down slightly from last year's blockbuster sale, there was still a palpable sense of relief that the market remained resilient.

“It's surprisingly good,” said Gabriel Duignan of Paramount Sales. “I thought the market was very good today. I was a little pessimistic coming in here, but I am glad I read it wrong. It's selective, but if you have what they want, they are willing to pay for it. There is a middle market, but there are some decent horses just not hitting the mark and then you're in trouble. But overall, I think we have to be happy with it.”

Looking ahead as the September sale continues into Book 4, Duignan said, “I think it will definitely play through to the next book because I think there are people shut out. I hope it holds up because it's been good so far.”

The Goodman family's Mt. Brilliant Farm consignment sold the day's third-highest priced offering, a $600,000 son of Justify, to Pin Oak Stud.

Of the market at Keeneland so far, Hutton Goodman said, “We have bought a couple back, but it's been good. When you have the ones that everyone wants, everyone wants them. That's the way it always is. People forget that from year to year.”

The Keeneland September sale continues through Saturday with sessions beginning at 10 a.m.

Pin Oak Stays Active in Book 3

Jim and Dana Bernhard's Pin Oak Stud continued to be active at the Keeneland September sale, making a session-topping $900,000 bid to secure a colt by Constitution (hip 1777) from the Knockgriffin Farm consignment.

“We bought three Constitution colts last year,” said Pin Oak advisor Matt Weinmann. “The first of which ran at Churchill Friday, Parchment Party, and we had a big win there. So we thought we would come back to that well.”

Hip 1777 is out of Low Pressure Zone (Curlin), a full-sister to graded-placed Virginia Eloise and a granddaughter of Miss Macy Sue (Trippi), dam of Liam's Map and Not This Time.

“This was a clear physical standout here in Book 3,” Weinmann said. “It was just straightforward for us.”

Of the colt's final price, Weinmann said, “I probably put him in the $500,000-$600,000 range, but because there are two stallions on the page with Liam's Map and Not This Time, I knew he had a chance to top the session. We knew we would have to pay and we stretched a little bit.”

Earlier in the session, Pin Oak went to $600,000 to acquire a colt by Justify (hip 1684) from the Mt. Brilliant Farm consignment Sunday. The chestnut yearling is out of Durga Devi (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), a half-sister to GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Wrote (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}).

“He was a lovely colt,” Weinmann said. “I loved the combination of the Galileo mare and Justify. He had that really muscular Justify frame, but some elegance from Galileo. He could be dirt, could be grass, we will see, but he's just an athletic colt.”

Hip 1684 was bred by Mt. Brilliant Farm and Ranch and Justify Syndicate.

“He's always been nice and he just thrived out here,” Mt. Brilliant's Hutton Goodman said of the yearling. “Every step of the way, he took everything in stride. He never turned a hair at anything.”

Goodman admitted the colt exceeded expectations in the ring Sunday.

“No, we were not [expecting that price],” he said. “We were kind of thinking maybe he could bring $200,000 or $250,000, so we are thrilled.”

Through six sessions of the September sale, Pin Oak has purchased 16 yearlings for $7,625,000. Leading the way was a $1-million son of Uncle Mo (hip 528).

“Obviously, Book 1 was super difficult,” Weinmann said. “We didn't buy anything in Book 1. It's been a really strong sale. We came in to buy as many good colts as we could find and we think we have a really good group so far.”

Hip 1777 | Keeneland Photo

Constitution Colt a Home Run for Fitzgerald

Jim Fitzgerald knocked it out of the park with the session-topping son of Constitution who sold Sunday for $900,000 to Pin Oak Stud. Fitzgerald had acquired the colt for $100,000 at the Keeneland January sale earlier this year.

“I loved the way he moved,” Fitzgerald said of the colt's appeal in January. “He just glided over the ground. He had a beautiful, athletic walk. In your mind's eye, you envision what they might look like. Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don't. I got this right.”

Fitzgerald said the colt's final price Sunday exceeded his expectations.

“I was thinking maybe $300,000 or $400,000,” Fitzgerald said. “But I had so many good players on him, I knew something like that could happen. It's a nice pedigree–there are two stallions in the pedigree, and he's by Constitution. So he's worth that. He's a lovely horse. He stood out. He showed himself so well and he did it consistently. He was out 150 times down at the barn and every time he came out and he was such a professional. If they all behaved like that, they would make you look good every day.”

Knockgriffin also had pinhook success earlier in the session, consigning a son of Girvin (hip 1636) who sold for $475,000 to Coal County Equine. The colt, whose full-brother Swirvin won the Jersey Shore S. in August, was purchased for $90,000 at Keeneland last November.

“I've a partnership that both horses were in,” Fitzgerald. “I own a lot of the partnership and I have some very good partners and friends involved. And the Girvin was a nice surprise, too.”

Of Sunday's results, Fitzgerald said, “It's been a very good day for me today. It doesn't happen that often, but I think the Good Lord was smiling down on me today.”

Costa Back for More at Keeneland

Michael Costa, who was named His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's trainer at Jebel Ali Stables in March of 2022, made his first trip to Keeneland last September and came away with 10 yearlings to take back to Dubai. The group performed so well, Costa was back for more this week at Keeneland.

“We purchased 10 last year and we were extremely happy with the way they arrived in Dubai,” Costa said. “So we've come back to double down. We are predominately looking for dirt horses, that's why we're here.”

As of Sunday, the Australian had surpassed his number of 2022 purchases, acquiring 11 yearlings for $3,435,000.

Costa's 2023 purchases are led by a colt by Candy Ride (Arg) (hip 1329) acquired for $500,000; a son of Bolt d'Oro (hip 1048) for $460,000; and a colt by War of Will (hip 592) for $375,000.

“We are always learning,” Costa said. “It's good to rub shoulders with some great people and meet some extremely successful agents in the U.S. I think it just comes down to buying a horse which is athletic. You just look for the fastest horse and whether that's going to run on dirt or turf, we will worry about that later.”

Of the market at Keeneland this year, Costa said, “As buyers, we would always like a little bit better value, but that's the market. And if you are finding the right ones, there are other good judges on them, too, so that gives you a little bit of confidence, I guess. But I think it's still very strong and healthy market.”


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