A $135,000 Classic Empire half-brother to a pair of recent stakes winners set the pace as the third hip through the ring during the first of two sessions of Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic Fall Yearlings Sale Monday and maintained that position throughout the afternoon.
At the end of trade, a total of 91 head had changed hands for gross receipts of $2,212,500. The average was $24,313, down from $27,222 during last year's corresponding session; while the median also dipped, from $14,000 last year to $11,500. The buyback rate was 19.5%–not far off the 18.5% it was 12 months ago.
This year's catalogue of 412 yearlings is down from the 526 it was in 2022. The opening session of 124 offerings, with a 3:00 p.m. start time, will be followed Tuesday by a longer session that begins at 11:00 a.m.
Glenn Bennett's LC Racing signed for the day's top two lots, the aforementioned New Jersey-bred Classic Empire colt consigned by Gracie Bloodstock, agent; and hip 116, a $130,000 son of leading freshman sire Maximus Mischief. The latter, a Pennsylvania-bred, was consigned by Marshall W. Silverman, agent.
LC Racing co-owns the session topper's MSW half-sister Girl Trouble (Fast Anna), and co-campaigned Grade II winner Maximus Mischief, who was acquired in the same Timonium, MD sales ring as a juvenile.
While five of the session's top six lots were colts, they were somewhat more diverse in their origins, with the breeding programs of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maryland and Minnesota all represented.
Kilka and Connelly Cash in Early
A colt by Classic Empire provided an early jolt to the proceedings in Timonium Monday, as the well-related New Jersey-bred, consigned by Chris Gracie's Gracie Bloodstock as hip 3, was hammered down to LC Racing LLC for what was ultimately a session-topping $135,000.
Bred by Greg Kilka in partnership with Christine Connelly's Bright View Farm, the Apr. 29 foal is the third out of unraced Adorabella (Ghostzapper), a half-sister to 2022 stakes winner Alydiva (Quality Road) from the family of GSW/MGISP Gastronomical.
Kilka and Connelly paid just $14,000 for Adorabella at the 2020 Keeneland January sale, and the aforementioned black-type earned by her half-sister was certainly not the most noteworthy of updates the mare has gotten since then. The Fast Anna filly Adorabella was carrying at the time, who brought $15,000 at this auction in 2021, blossomed into multiple runaway Parx stakes winner and $283,000-plus earner Girl Trouble (Fast Anna). Adorabella's second foal is the flashy juvenile Book'em Danno (Bucchero), who crushed fellow Jersey-breds by 9 1/2 lengths first out at Monmouth for Atlantic Six Racing and trainer Derek Ryan in August before adding the open Smoke Glacken S. back at the Shore last month.
“I think it aligned with expectations. We've struck it rich, so to speak, with this mare that Chris Gracie picked out for us a few years ago,” said Kilka. “The mare, Adorabella, is throwing really nice babies and they all kind of have a similar way about them–they're all smart, they all walk very well, and now it has translated to the racetrack with the first two babies being Girl Trouble and Book'em Danno. This one's very similar to those.”
Kilka is a shareholder in Book'em Danno's young Florida-based sire, and was acquiring mares for Bucchero at the time.
“Chris picked the mare out,” Kilka said. “The page was a little light, but it was a young and active family and Chris suggested taking a shot. She's turned out to be a great purchase… Initially we acquired a few mares [for Bucchero], both with Chris and some I did on my own–the ones I did with Chris have been the most successful. We thought she aligned really well with Bucchero and we wanted to support the stallion in his first couple seasons. [Book'em Danno] has turned out to be very good so far.”
Book'em Danno was solid privately as a yearling after Girl Trouble had broken her maiden, but before she successfully stepped into stakes company. While Kilka and Connelly hadn't fully been able to cash in on Adorabella's production prowess as sellers until Monday, Kilka was quick to dismiss the notion that seeing Book'em Danno's success on the track might be bittersweet.
“It's all positive feelings; this is not an easy game,” he said. “We bred the horse to sell him, and we thought he would be a nice horse–you never know how nice they're going to be–but there are no regrets. We're happy to see the current ownership group having success with him. They're a group of Jersey guys and I'm happy to see that.”
Kilka and Connelly have set themselves up for further financial gain down the road, as they leveled up significantly from a stud fee perspective in choosing Adorabella's most recent mate, Medaglia d'Oro, who commanded a fee of $100,000 this past season.
“We have no plans to sell the mare as of now, although there have been inquiries. I guess for the right inquiry it's always possible,” Kilka said. “We'll see what happens with this Medaglia d'Oro baby and go from there.”