Businesslike Opener to Keeneland January


Session-topping Applauding | Keeneland

By Jessica Martini & Christie DeBernardis

LEXINGTON, KY – The five-day Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale opened with a workmanlike session Monday in Lexington, with Applauding (Congrats), a mare originally led out unsold, ultimately bringing the day's highest price of $360,000. The session topper (hip 135) was consigned by Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency and was purchased by Hunter Valley Farm. Tami Bobo's First Finds purchased the day's top-priced short yearling, going to $310,000 for a son of Quality Road (hip 242) from the Denali Stud consignment.

“It was a typical January Sale,” said Keeneland's Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell. “The horses that stood out, like the Quality Road yearling, were very much rewarded.”

The session missed out on a knockout sale when the supplemental entry Meets Expectations (Valid Expectations), dam of Eclipse finalist World of Trouble (Kantharos), RNA'd for $675,000 late in the day.

“A horse like Meets Expectations was a nice one to get added in, but unfortunately she didn't meet expectations,” said Russell. “There is the possibility, like the horse that topped the session today, that we can get her sold privately, so that will be our goal.”

In all, 219 horses sold Monday for a total of $14,257,800. The average was $65,104 and the median was $35,000. With 88 horses reported not sold, the buy-back rate was 28.66%.

Last year's opening session of the January sale, which included the $5-million sale of champion Abel Tasman (Quality Road), saw 234 horses sell for $21,929,200 for an average of $93,715 and a median of $39,500. The session's buy-back rate was 25.95%.

“We always look to try and find an Abel Tasman every year or get a dispersal or something to add a little spice to the January sale,” Russell said. “Some years we are successful and some years we are not. With the absence of an Abel Tasman, we have $5 million taken off the top. I think the rest of the catalogue is a solid group. Some nice broodmare prospects with some black-type sold really well and the good yearlings were very well rewarded.”

The Keeneland January sale continues through Friday with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.

An Encore for Applauding

Applauding (Congrats), in foal to Curlin, was originally led out of the Keeneland sales ring unsold Monday, but the 10-year-old mare eventually found a new home, selling to Hunter Valley Farm for a session-topping $360,000.

“We were underbidder on her originally,” Hunter Valley's Adrian Regan explained. “We tend to price them accordingly and it was a bit more than we wanted to spend on her.”

Hunter Valley purchased the mare's filly by Curlin for $250,000 as a weanling at last year's Keeneland November sale and the operation has been keeping tabs on her unraced 3-year-old filly by the same sire who was purchased by Peter Brant for $475,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale and is in training with Chad Brown.

“We're very happy with the weanling,” Regan said. “And we got good reports about the Curlin with Chad. For us, Curlin is probably one of our favorite sires and his sales record speaks volumes. Our partnership was just keen to have her.”

Applauding, out of Andria's Forest (Forestry), is a full-sister to the dam of graded placed Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) and Mojovation (Quality Road). She was consigned by Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency on behalf of Marne Fauber's Imagine, which purchased her for $100,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. Imagine also sold a colt by Distorted Humor out of the mare for $400,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September sale. @JessMartiniTDN

Bell Rings for Zia

Nicoma Bloodstock's Price Bell struck early in the Keeneland January sale to secure the 8-year-old mare Zia (Munnings) (hip 117) for $335,000 on behalf of an undisclosed client. Consigned by Ballysax Bloodstock on behalf of Geoff Nixon, the stakes-placed mare sold in foal to Into Mischief.

“She's a nice mare, a young mare,” Bell said. There are seven fillies in production underneath her. Into Mischief is tough to find, so we're excited to get a shot with a nice young mare. ”

Out of Faux Pas (Ire), Zia is a half-sister to the dam of Selflessly (More Than Ready), winner of last year's GII Miss Grillo S. She is also a half to stakes winner Sans Souci Island (Chester House), who produced graded stakes winner River Seven (Johannesburg).

“It felt like a fair market for January,” Bell said of the mare's price tag. “There is quite a bit more depth to come, so we were excited to try and strike early.”

Of plans for the mare, Bell added, “We're not sure. We bought her for a new client and we're very excited to get her to the farm and figure it out.”

Nixon purchased Zia for $100,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. Her Into Mischief filly sold for $285,000 at last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale and her Malibu Moon filly sold for $125,000 as a weanling two months later at the Keeneland November sale.

“We made the decision to put her in this sale during the November sale,” Ballysax's Carl McEntee explained of the decision to send Zia through the sales ring Monday. “[Nixon] bought several in November and we thought this was the right time to put her in the marketplace. We priced her in the $300,000 to $350,000 range. It was a fair price for the mare—a good physical mare in foal to the right horse. The Into Mischief we sold in September for $285,000 was a nice sort.” @JessMartiniTDN

Quality Road Colt Destined for the Spa

Buyers will likely get another chance to buy Hip 242, a well-related son of Quality Road, at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale as he was purchased by horsewoman Tami Bobo as a pinhooking prospect for $310,000 with that August auction in mind.

“I thought he was exceptional,” Bobo said after signing the ticket out back. “I have had a lot of luck with Quality Road. Quality Road has been good to me and I loved the colt, so I felt he was the horse we needed.”

She continued, “He is beautiful. He is forward. He looks early. He is the kind of horse you want to go to Saratoga, so, if all the stars align, we will try.”

Bred by Williamson Racing, the dark bay is out of MGSW & GISP Foxysox (GB) (Foxhound), who is also the dam of MSW Curlin's Fox (Curlin). He was consigned by Denali Stud, who also sold a $290,000 Gun Runner colt earlier in the session (Hip 69).

“When we did our presale inspection and looked at these two yearlings, we definitely got excited,” said Denali's Conrad Bandoroff. “We knew we had two serious bullets to fire. Both horses handled themselves well on the grounds. They made our jobs easier.”

As for Hip 242 specifically, he said, “He was a beautiful colt with a tremendous profile to him. It didn't take much imagination to see what he could potentially grow into. He was bought by a very astute judge and it is a compliment to the colt and how he was raised.” —@CDeBernardisTDN

De Meric Secures Popular Gun Runner Colt

Nick de Meric fended off all challengers to secure a popular colt from the first crop of Horse of the Year Gun Runner for $290,000. The horseman was acting on behalf of Seth Klarman's Klaravich Stables and will prepare the short yearling for a racing career with Chad Brown.

When asked what he liked about the dark bay, de Meric said, 'Everything. He is a beautifully balanced, smooth, athletic colt. He is by a young sire that I think has a tremendously bright future. He is a sire that is already turning heads and I think the best is yet to come for him.”

As for the price, he said, “That was plenty of money for him. We knew he wouldn't be cheap, let's put it that way. Time will tell. I think the same horse here in September could easily bring 30% to 40% more than he did here today. That is what we are gambling on.”

Consigned by Denali Stud as Hip 69, the son of MSP Sunday Sonnet (Any Given Saturday) was bred by Hermitage Farm.

“That was very pleasant,” said Hermitage Farm General Manager Bill Landes. “We had him in the November sale and a little setback brought us to this sale. But I'm happy that he stood out here–we were a big fish in a smaller pond, especially with a good-looking colt like him.

Sunday Sonnet, who is a half-sister to MGSW Pianist (More Than Ready), was purchased by Hermitage for $110,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November Sale. Hip 69 is her first foal.

When asked if she was purchased specifically to go to Gun Runner, Landes said, “Oh no! Absolutely not. I had to sweat bullets to get to Gun Runner. We were worried that we wouldn't be accepted because I knew it took a hellava mare to get Gun Runner. But bless their hearts, they accepted us and the colt came out well. The mare is in foal to More Than Ready now and I'm really excited about that as well. But I am over the moon with this sale for the new owners of Hermitage. That is what is important.”

Hip 69 was not the only son of Gun Runner who proved popular during Monday's session. Hip 397, another colt from the Three Chimneys stallion's first crop, brought $300,000 from Larry Best's OXO Equine. Taylor Made's Katie Taylor signed the ticket on Best's behalf. —@CDeBernardisTDN

Constitution Colt a Dream for Thompson

Iowa breeder Maynard Thompson enjoyed a dream sales result Monday at Keeneland when his colt by Constitution sold for $135,000 to Classic Bloodstock. The youngster was consigned by Carl McEntee's Ballysax Bloodstock.

“This is a dream,” Thompson said when reached by phone shortly after the short yearling (hip 198) exited the sales ring. “You're hoping that you get one of them that turns out to be the big deal. I'm a farmer here in Iowa. To me this is like hitting the lottery, to be honest with you. I've had several people call me and congratulate me and it's a very special day for me.”

Named Buddy's Law, the dark bay colt is out of Crazy Woman Creek (Wild Rush). The mare, with this foal in utero, sold for $1,000 to Charles Yochum at the 2018 Keeneland November sale.

“Charles Yochum bought her a year ago in November and he took her to Texas,” Thompson explained. “I ended up buying three mares off of him and she was one of them. I picked out three mares because they were bred to Constitution, Flat Out and English Channel–all fairly well-respected stallions and I thought, 'Maynard, take a shot at it.'”

Thompson, who purchased Crazy Woman Creek privately for $4,500, admitted he had high hopes for the mare's yearling Monday, but the result exceeded expectations.

“I've been sweating bullets to see if he would pass his physical,” Thompson said. “Carl [McEntee] and Connie Brown, who was taking care of the baby in Kentucky for me, told me if he passed his physical, I could start dreaming. We were thinking $75,000 or $80,000 is where the colt should have been. Carl told me there were a lot of people who really liked him.”

Asked if the colt's $135,000 final price was the most he'd ever sold a horse for, Thompson laughed heartily.

“This is the very, very highest I've ever sold one for,” he said, adding he was all set up to watch the sale from his home.

“We had the TV on, I had my computer on. And we were taping both of them,” he said. “We were hoping there would not be a commercial on the TV, but as soon as he came into the ring, there was a commercial.”

Thompson currently has four broodmares, but Crazy Woman Creek passed away shortly after her Constitution foal was born.

“The mare died when that baby was a day and a half old,” Thompson said. “So we have spent a lot of time with that colt. I've got three daughters and that was my little boy. So it was kind of tough to sell him. But $135,000, that's covers some toughness, I guess.”

While Thompson's plan is to sell the foals out of his broodmares, he admitted that could change slightly in the near future.

“It's my game plan [to sell], but we have a yearling filly out of Flat Out and my girlfriend is attached to her. So I'm probably going to get back into the racing business, would be my guess.”

Constitution, whose first-crop runners in 2019 included Grade I winner Tiz the Law and graded winners Amalfi Sunrise, By Your Side and Independence Hall, rewarded another breeder Monday at Keeneland a few hips later in Monday's session. Morell Bloodstock signed for Distinct Sparkle, in foal to the WinStar stallion, for $23,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton February sale. The dark bay filly (hip 213) born two months later and bred by Roberta Schneider, sold through the Fort Christopher's Thoroughbreds consignment for $165,000 to Canaan Creek Stables. @JessMartiniTDN

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