Brisk Business Continues in Lexington

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Tuesday’s session-topper, Marquee Miss | Keeneland photo

By Jessica Martini & Christie DeBernardis

LEXINGTON, KY–Strong trade continued at the Keeneland November Sale Tuesday with Marquee Miss (Cowboy Cal) topping the first of two Book 2 sessions when selling to WinStar Farm for $750,000.

A total of 223 horses grossed $34,942,000 for an average of $156,691 and a median of $125,000. A total of 79 horses failed to meet their reserves for a buyback rate of 26.16%. Through the first two sessions, 343 horses have realized $91,371,000 with an average of $266,388 and a median of $180,000. Overall, 129 horses have left the ring unsold for an RNA rate of 27.33%.

“I thought the bidding today was very strong and consistent,” said Keeneland’s Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell. “It was domestic at the top end, but we still had a fair share of international buyers, Japan and Australia probably to the fore front. I thought the foals were very good, especially because we had a lot of end users at the top, so overall it was a good day at the office.”

A trio of weanlings sold for over $500,000, topped by Hip 413, a colt from the first crop of champion Nyquist, who summoned $600,000 from Larry Best.

“The weanling market has been very strong for the last couple of years,” Russell said. “Our breeders are pretty savvy and know they need to bring a good quality foal here. The ones that are here have already ticked one of the boxes so it gives the buyers confidence to go on.”

WinStar’s Elliott Walden also commented on the strength of the weanling sales and the market as a whole.

“I think good horses bring a lot of money and other horses are a bit tricky,” said Walden, who signed the ticket on the sales topper. “It is what we’ve seen through the yearling sales and it is no different here. Weanling trade appears very strong. I saw a lot of trainers looking at weanlings, like Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown, which is very unusual. So, it is very competitive.”

The November sale continues with a second day of book two selling Wednesday at 10 a.m. For full results and catalogues, visit www.keeneland.com.

Marquee Miss ‘Fulfills’ Her ‘Promise’

Owner Joe Ragsdale had high hopes for his mare Marquee Miss (Cowboy Cal), a half-sister to Grade I-winning sprinter Promises Fulfilled (Shackleford), at Keeneland November Tuesday and she more than lived up to them, selling to WinStar Farm for $750,000.

“It was a little bit higher than what we expected, so we were very pleased,” Ragsdale said. “We had high expectations for her, but not quite this high.”

WinStar’s Elliott Walden expressed a similar opinion, “It was a little more [than we expected to pay], but she was the one we wanted today.”

Out of MGSP Marquee Delivery (Marquetry), Marquee Miss is a half-sister to Promises Fulfilled, winner of the four graded events this year, topped by the GI H. Allen Jerkens Memorial S. at Saratoga. She is also a full-sibling to MSP Marquee Cal Gal.

“She’s a beautiful mare,” said Walden, who does not have a stallion in mind for Hip 475 yet. “I love Promises Fulfilled and have a lot of respect for him, so I thought she was a nice fit for the broodmare band. She is full of quality and balance.”

Purchased by Ragsdale for just $20,000 at the OBS June Sale, Marquee Miss won five stakes and was graded stakes placed in her career for trainer Ingrid Mason. She retires with a record of 34-6-4-3 and earnings of $373,516.

“She was five and she had a nice career,” said Ragsdale, who operates Cherokee Measurement and Control in Tulsa. “She was very sound and did a good job for us. In tandem with the fact her little brother was doing so well, the timing was right to put her in the sales ring.”

Ragsdale runs a small operation with just seven horses in training and four broodmares, but he has had a few homeruns in just six years in the business. In addition to his score with Marquee Miss, he also campaigned MGSW Sarah Sis (Sharp Humor), who was also a $20,000 OBS June purchase and earned north of $900,000 on the racetrack. After she RNA’d for $1.2 million at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton November sale, Ragsdale raced her another year and returned her to Newtown Paddocks in 2016, selling her for $750,000.

When asked if he ever considered keeping his more accomplished mares for his own broodmare band, Ragsdale said, “We are just not quite there in our operation yet. We are trying to get to the point where we can keep one of these wonderful animals, who have raced so well for us.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Nyquist Colt to Best

Larry Best, who purchased three weanlings at Fasig-Tipton Sunday, went to $600,000 to secure a colt from the first crop of GI Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist during Tuesday’s second session of the Keeneland November sale. The weanling (hip 413) is out of Holy Place (Pulpit), a half-sister to champion Lady Eli (Divine Park), who topped Monday’s session of the auction when selling for $4.2 million, and to multiple graded stakes winner Bizzy Caroline (Afleet Alex).

“This is just a bet on good breeding,” Best said of the purchase. “I love Lady Eli and I love Uncle Mo, and therefore [his son] Nyquist. [The weanling] had good conformation and had the right size for his foaling date. He was worth a bet.”

Later in Tuesday’s session, Best went to $525,000 for a colt by Quality Road (hip 610) from the Bedouin Bloodstock consignment. The weanling is out of Tanasi (High Cotton), a half-sister to the dam of Grade I winners Paulassilverlining (Ghostzapper) and Dads Caps (Discreet Cat).

“The page is attractive,” Best said of the weanling. “He is a little bit on the small side, but I convinced myself he would mature. I’m hoping to race him.”

Hip 610 was bred by SF Bloodstock, which purchased Tanasi with the colt in utero for $110,000 at last year’s Keeneland November sale.

Best burst onto the sales scene three years ago and has quickly become a major player at the top of the market and at the races. On the racetrack, he has been represented by graded stakes winners Instilled Regard (Arch) and Instagrand (Into Mischief)–both expensive 2-year-old purchases. He has also had success with yearling purchases like multiple Grade I placed Rowayton (Into Mischief) and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Brill (Medaglia d’Oro).

With his purchases this week in Lexington, Best seems to be stepping up his participation in the weanling market. His three acquisitions at Fasig-Tipton included a $600,000 son of Pioneerof the Nile (hip 109); a $500,000 daughter of Medaglia d’Oro (hip 28); and a $450,000 colt by Quality Road (hip 22).

Of his increased involvment in the weanling market, Best said, “I bought a couple weanlings last year, but with the prices of yearlings, I feel if you go down the food chain a little bit, you take a little more risk, but you pay less.”

Best paused for a beat before adding with a wide grin, “I don’t know if any of this will work out.”

Hip 413 was consigned by Lane’s End on behalf of breeders Tony Holmes and Dr. and Mrs. Walter Zent.

“I thought he would do well because he was such a nice type and a nice mover,” said Holmes. “I am happy, especially for Dr. Zent who I’ve partnered with forever. So it’s just a nice feeling, financially and personally.”

Holmes and Zent purchased Holy Place in foal to City Zip for $65,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November sale, a relative bargain considering Lady Eli’s resume already included a pair of Grade I victories.

“She had been in Louisiana, I think, and she’d gotten off to a bad start at stud,” Holmes said of the mare. “That put a lot of people off, but I thought that wouldn’t bother me when I saw the catalogue page. And I think Lady Eli was even on the page then. So her early progeny record, even though she was still young, put people off. Normally, I wouldn’t have been able to buy her.”

Of the decision to breed to Nyquist during his first season at stud, Holmes said, “I thought Nyquist [standing] at $40,000 was very good value, for what he did and commercially. I think I got three mares in foal to him. Finding horses in that price range for that value, it’s tough. In the longer run, we try to breed younger mares to the proven ones. And with this mare, we threw that equation out the window and said, ‘Let’s hopefully get lucky at $40,000.’ And we did.”

Holy Place’s yearling colt by Carpe Diem sold for $170,000 at this year’s Keeneland September sale.

“I thought because he was so nice, we would see if we could hopefully try and make him bring a yearling price,” Holmes said of the decision to send the Nyquist colt through the ring at November.

Holy Place was bred back to Nyquist last spring.

Holmes was still waiting to share congratulations with his partner an hour or so after the weanling had sold.

“I haven’t even seen Dr. Zent since he sold,” Holmes said. “He might have beat me to the bar,” he added with a laugh. @JessMartiniTDN

Remembered to Hinkle Farms

Remembered (Sky Mesa), dam of Grade I winner Bowies Hero (Artie Schiller), will be joining the broodmare band at Hinkle Farms after selling for $550,000 Tuesday at Keeneland.

“She’s a lovely mare and a proven producer,” said Tom Hinkle after signing the ticket on the mare out back. “She produced a Grade I stakes winner and she is only turning nine. She’s in foal to Gun Runner, so if she has a nice foal, maybe we’ll get lucky.”

The 8-year-old mare (hip 539) is out of Sister Girl (Conquistador Cielo) and she is a half-sister to graded stakes winner Mint Lane (Maria’s Mon) and Grade I placed Sister Girl Blues (Hold for Gold)–dam of GI Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line (Line of David), as well as to So Sharp (Saint Liam)–the dam of GI Cigar Mile H. winner and new Three Chimneys stallion Sharp Azteca (Freud).

The Hinkle family purchased So Sharp, in foal to Lea, for $230,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale.

“We have some of the family already,” Hinkle said. “We own the dam of Sharp Azteca, so we like the family.”

Hinkle Farms’ strong showing at this year’s Keeneland September sale included the $1.75-million sale of a War Front half-sister to Derby winner Nyquist (hip 389).

“We did have a good September sale and we’re always trying to improve the quality of our broodmare band,” Hinkle said.

The unraced Remembered was bred and consigned to Tuesday’s sale by Pope McLean’s Crestwood Farm.

“We have the half-sister [Street Flirt (Street Boss)], who is a couple of years younger, so we had something to back it up with,” Pope McLean, Sr. said of the decision to sell Remembered. “We thought it was time to move her on and we wish them the best of luck. We thought she would bring that or maybe even a little more, but she was a nice mare and right off the bat had a Grade I winner, so you can’t ask for any more than that.”

Of the mare’s placement in Book 2, McLean said, “We thought she could have been overlooked a little in Book 1. I think it was a good sale; they got a good buy and we did fine, too.” @JessMartiniTDN

Shared Account Joins Sam-Son Farm Broodmare Band

Shared Account (Pleasantly Perfect), winner of the 2010 GI Breeders’ Cup F/M Turf, is headed to Canada after being purchased by James Wigan, acting on behalf of Sam-Son Farm, for $550,000 Tuesday. Hip 560 is currently in foal to Mastery.

“She’s been a good racemare,” said Wigan, who also purchased Theatric (Bernardini) (Hip 614) for Sam-Son for $310,000. “She has a little bit of age on her, but she has already produced a stakes winner. We loved her as an individual and she has a great pedigree.”

Out of the Smart Strike mare Silk N’ Sapphire, Shared Account is a half-sister to SW & MGSP Colonial Flag (Pleasant Tap) and GSP Mark of Success (Mt. Livermore). Sagamore Farm purchased the mare for $170,000 as a KEESEP yearling and she went on to win six of 18 races, three of which were graded stakes, and earn over $1.6 million. The 12-year-old mare has already produced a stakes winner in Riley’s Choice (Distorted Humor).

“We haven’t thought about [a stallion yet],” said Sam-Son Farm Broodmare and Stallion Manager Dave Whitford. “We have just been working so hard at getting mares here. We didn’t know what we were going to get, so we are just happy to get her. Hopefully she can get us some runners at the track. We would love to get a stakes winner out of her. She is a gorgeous mare. We love her.”

Shared Account was consigned by Upson Downs Farm on Sagamore’s behalf.

“It is hard to sell a Breeders’ Cup winner, but she went to a great place,” said Upson Down’s Alex Rankin. “I think she was well sold and well bought. We were pleased. There was a limit to what we would sell her for. She has that value for us. They would love to have the Mastery foal and go on with it.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Into Mischief Colt Destined for Resale

A colt by Into Mischief will likely reappear at the yearling sales next season after he was purchased for $500,000 by pinhooker Gerry Dilger.

“He is by a great sire, all of the above, he was all there,” Dilger said of the weanling’s appeal.

Hip 499 is out of the unraced Nest Egg (Eskendereya), a half-sister to graded stakes winner Final Round (Storm Cat). Consigned by St. George Sales, the weanling was bred by Dell Ridge Farm. Dell Ridge purchased Nest Egg, in foal to Curlin, for $200,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November sale. The mare’s colt by More Than Ready sold for $210,000 at this year’s Keeneland September sale.

Asked about paying $500,000 for a pinhooking prospect, Dilger said, “You look at the foals selling Monday and Tuesday here, they were outstanding, the prices that they were given for these foals and the pedigrees. So I guess we all have to step up a bit further this year. It’s been unbelievably competitive here this week.”@JessMartiniTDN

Thai Buy a Hit for Team Valor

Following the exploits of dual champion Songbird (Medaglia d’Oro) two years ago, Team Valor International’s Barry Irwin struck to secure the filly’s half-sister Wide Range (Mineshaft) and repatriated the then 11-year-old mare from Thailand. Her first foal born since she returned to the U.S., a colt by Medaglia d’Oro (hip 237), went through the ring at Keeneland Monday and sold for $470,000 to Clear Ridge Stables.

“I’ve tried to do a couple of traditional investments in the last couple of years and Wide Range was one of those,” Irwin said. “It wasn’t that difficult to find her. The guy who had her was a regular buyer at Keeneland and he bought well-bred horses as cheaply as possible. So finding her wasn’t the tough part. But there were so many hoops to jump through to get her here. The route of travel for this horse was something crazy. The dam had to go from Thailand to South Korea and then some other interim place, then Alaska and Chicago. It was unbelievable, but it turned out to be worth it.”

Wide Range, who is already the dam of graded stakes winner Mico Margarita (Run Away and Hide), is currently in foal to Violence.

Even as he enjoyed Monday’s sales ring success, Irwin was focused on a new dimension he has added to his Team Valor operation.

“We buy horses, syndicate them and it’s a vehicle for people to have some entertainment, to enjoy themselves,” Irwin explained of the traditional Team Valor partnerships which have included 2011 GI Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux {Brz}). “We don’t do it telling people that this is an investment or a financial opportunity. However, going forward, we are going to have a division of our company that does try to do things on a for-profit basis.”

Irwin and Team Valor executive team member Jessica Berry got the new investment-minded division of Team Valor started last month at the Arqana October Yearling Sale.

“A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Arqana sale and I bought five yearlings,” Irwin said. “They are all fillies and I’ve given them to trainers in the South of France with the idea of racing them, winning a race and then selling them.”

The most expensive of the five Arqana purchases was a daughter of Siyouni (Fr) (hip 5) acquired for €95,000. The group also included a pair of daughters of Dabirsim (Fr) and fillies by War Command and Camelot (GB).

The decision to purchase yearlings with an eye towards re-selling was made after a competitive season trying to buy 2-year-olds, according to Irwin.

“I am in the market every day of the racing season,” Irwin said. “I was only able to buy one filly in Europe this entire year as a 2-year-old, Devant (Fr) (Showcasing {GB}). She worked out well. She won the G3 Prix Miesque and she got beaten a nose in the G3 Six Perfections. But she was the only one I was able to buy. And all of the other ones were bought at that Arqana October sale for about $20,000 and $80,000. I figured, ‘What the hell? I’m just going to go to that sale, find some I like myself, race them and try to sell them.'”

The five yearlings are a test run for Team Valor and it could expand in the years ahead.

“I want to try this one first and see how it goes next year,” Irwin said. “Then, if it goes well, we will branch out into a few different sales.”

Irwin concluded, “I want people to know that we are continuing to do the partnerships, but we have had a change of direction and we are also going to do things on a for-profit basis. So if anybody sees one of my horses and it interests them, I don’t want them to say, ‘It’s Team Valor, they’ll never sell it.’ I want them to look at me as a guy who will sell a good horse.” @JessMartiniTDN

Keene Investment

The first consignment in the name of Ann Bakhaus’s Keene Ridge Racing got off to a rousing start at Keeneland Tuesday with the sale of the mare Theatric (Bernardini) and her weanling filly by Street Sense. The 5-year-old mare, in foal to Distorted Humor, sold for $310,000 to Sam-Son Farm, while her weanling followed her into the ring and sold for $150,000 to Jamie B. Bloodstock. The mare, with the Street Sense filly in utero, was purchased by bloodstock agent Charlie Boden on behalf of Bakhaus for $180,000 at last year’s Keeneland November sale.

Theatric is a daughter of champion Ashado (Saint Ballado) and a half-sister to stakes winner Westwood (Bernardini).

“I knew the mare a little bit from when I was at Godolphin,” Boden, who previously served as head of sales for Sheikh Mohammed’s operation, said of Theatric’s appeal last November. “Ashado was bought in the year I started there, I think. Ashado had been disappointing and this was one of the first ones out of Ashado who they thought could run a little bit. I think she ended up being disappointing, too, but I think she had some ability. And knowing that, I thought that she would be a good risk of a mare to buy.”

Boden continued, “Ann wanted to buy something and sell it back. We thought if the mare has a nice enough foal, we’ll definitely sell the foal right back. And we might take a chance to sell the mare and if we made money, great, and if we not we’d be happy to keep the mare. With a good effort of a first foal, we’d love to have another shot with the mare if she didn’t bring enough money. But she sold very well. She was well-protected, I’ll say. She sold well passed the reserve, but she was protected. So we weren’t going to give the mare away.”

Bakhaus runs her family’s Kentucky Eagle, a beverage distributing company. One of the first horses she and Boden teamed up to buy was a maiden mare named Belva (Theatrical {Ire}).

“Belva was one of the first mares Ann bought some years ago,” Boden said. “We bought her as a maiden off of Allen Paulson and bred her to Smart Strike. We sold English Channel as a yearling for $50,000 to J. J. Pletcher. He was a nasty little guy that they were glad to get rid of because he was mean and tough. What they didn’t realize was that was going to translate into one of the toughest little turf horses we’ve seen in a long time.”

That tough little turf horse was champion English Channel.

Of Bakhaus’s decision to consign under the Keene Ridge banner, Boden said, “Ann is willing and game and she thought that adding a personal touch to selling her horses could add some value.”

Boden was also quick to give credit for the consignment’s success to Bakhaus’s longtime farm manager, Charlie McKinlay.

“Charlie McKinlay has raised all the horses she has had there since she started,” Boden said. “He has been there 20 some years and does a great job. He is a really good horseman. He participates in the selection process along me.”

In addition to her sales success, Bakhaus has enjoyed success on the racetrack this year with her homebred Nice Not Nice (Twirling Candy). The filly was third in the recent GIII Fayette S. and second in the GIII Ack Ack S.

“She brought guys from Sierra Nevada brewing company–they were passionate about the game and love gambling–they bought a piece of a horse and it turns out to be this horse and he can run a little bit and they’ve had a lot of fun with him. She spreads it around. She is great for the game. She’s enthusiastic about it all. She likes the sales aspects, likes the racing.” @JessMartiniTDN

Sequel & Stonestreet Continue to Support Union Jackson

Becky Thomas’s Sequel New York and Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables continued their support of young stallion Union Jackson (Curlin) at Keeneland Tuesday, purchasing Alpha Kitten (Tale of the Cat) for $57,000.

Banke bred and raced MSW & GSP Union Jackson, a son of her Grade I winner Hot Dixie Chick (Dixie Union). The 5-year-old bred just under 80 mares in his first book and his first foals will hit the ground this spring.

“It is the second part of our venture we started last year,” said Thomas. “We stand Union Jackson in partnership with Stonestreet. We supported the stallion last year and we are going to support the stallion this year. In New York, you must support your stallions and we want to be the leaders with that stallion. We love that stallion and Barbara loves that stallion.”

Graded stakes winner Alpha Kitten is currently in foal to Lord Nelson. Hip 257 is out of a half-sister to Grade I winner Marylebone (Unbridled’s Song).

“We want mares that look fast, an athletic mare,” Thomas said. “[Alpha Kitten] is a Grade II winner. We look for mares that should produce early speed. He himself was a very fast horse. He was a ‘TDN Rising Star,’ [his sire] Curlin was a ‘TDN Rising Star,’ as well as his mother.”

She continued, “This is phase two. We want to show New York breeders they need to get on our band wagon because we are supporting this horse once again.”

Thomas does not have an exact number of mares in mind, but said they would purchase several. As for the plans for the resulting foals, the horsewoman said, “We want to see what the babies look like, maybe adjust what we are doing a little bit. Barbara is very excited about this horse and when you are on a team such as Stonestreet, I’m going to be all in myself.” –@CDeBernardisTDN

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