By Sue Finley
For a sales company, selling the dam of a future Classic winner at your mixed sale is about as good a marketing tool as there is. Imagine selling two of them, three hips and 10 minutes apart, at the same sale.
After the dust cleared from Derby weekend, a closer look at the results revealed just that: Pretty City Dancer, the dam of GI Kentucky Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous, sold as hip 122 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton November Sale; and Puca, the dam of the Kentucky Derby winner Mage, sold a few minutes later as hip 125.
Stroud Coleman Bloodstock acquired Pretty City Dancer on behalf of Godolphin for $3.5 million at the sale while she was carrying her first foal, now the winning 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly Ornamental. She was the co-third-highest price that year, and was offered by Taylor Made Sales.
Puca was knocked down at $475,000 by Robert Clay from the Denali Sales consignment, in foal to Gun Runner, then standing his first year at stud. That Gun Runner filly, Gunning, has twice been stakes-placed, and Clay bred her back to another first-year sire in Good Magic in 2019.
How unusual is the occurrence? “It's highly unusual,” said Boyd Browning, the President and CEO of Fasig-Tipton. “I'd have to do the research, but in 35 years, I can't ever remember the Oaks and Derby winners' dams being sold the same night-never mind within 10 minutes of each other.”
Browning said when Mage hit the wire, he didn't quite realize the significance of what had happened.
“Last night, I was reviewing the pedigree of the dam, like I do after most major graded stakes races. I knew we had sold the dam of Pretty Mischievous because I had communicated with the team at Godolphin and Darley on Friday night and congratulated them. Then, an hour after the Derby, I was like, `wow, we sold Puca as well.'
Browning dug a little deeper, saw that both were sold in 2018, and as mares sell in name-order, realized that they must have been close together. That's when he discovered how close. “Statistically, it would be off the charts.”
Each mare had similarities, too. Each was carrying their first foal at the sale, and produced the Classic winner on a subsequent cover.
“That's what makes our game so good,” said Browning. “You've got Godolphin through Anthony Stroud buying a Grade I winner by Tapit carrying her first foal, and we knew it was going to be one of the highlights of the sale, a mare like her. Then you have Puca, in foal to the first-year stallion that everybody likes in Gun Runner. We figured she was going to sell well.”
But while both mares went to seasoned industry participants in Godolphin and Robert Clay, “the offspring, really take two divergent paths and end up in two divergent camps,” said Browning. “And that truly is the great thing about our game. You've got a fascinating group of owners on Mage with the trainer, Gustavo Delgado, only coming to the United States in 2014 after a tremendous career in Venezuela, and you've got Brendan Walsh and the Goldphin team, one of the most powerful stables in the world acquiring Pretty City Dancer, and Grandview Equine with a limited number of mares buying Puca. And they reach the highest success we can reach in our game.”
And at the end of the day, Browning said, that's good for everyone.
“It fuels the dream, whether you're buying mares or you're buying yearlings or you're buying two-year-olds, and to just watch the emotion that the connections experienced is what makes what we do so special.”