Dynamic Duo for Taylor Made at Tatts

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Sophie P (left) | Benoit Photo

By Kelsey Riley

The Nicholasville, Kentucky-based Taylor Made Sales Agency is accustomed to breaking records. A dominant force both in quantity and quality since hitting the U.S. public auction scene in the late 1970s, Taylor Made is perennially among the leading consignors at America’s major yearling and breeding stock sales. Taylor Made graduates accounted for 9.6% of the combined aggregate of all North American sales in 2019, with 842 of the total 13,362 horses sold at public auction on the continent this year coming from a Taylor Made consignment.

Next week, Taylor Made establishes a new record: it sends out its smallest-ever consignment, a two-horse draft at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale.

“It’s the smallest consignment since 1976 for Taylor Made,” said Mark Taylor, Taylor Made’s vice president of marketing and public sales operations–and the youngest of the four Taylor Brothers–who is in Newmarket this week to oversee proceedings. “I may get back to my roots and be showing mares; I’ll be raking, cleaning stalls, doing it all. I’m looking forward to it.”

While Taylor Made’s Tattersalls draft may be smaller numerically than the agency’s norm, it will pack a big punch on quality. First through the ring on Tuesday is the GI Gamely S. winner Sophie P (GB) (Bushranger {Ire}) in foal to Frankel (GB) (lot 1837), and she is followed through immediately by last year’s G2 Norfolk S. winner Shang Shang Shang (Shanghai Bobby) (lot 1838).

Taylor Made entered the European market a year ago when offering six mares at Tattersalls December. Four of those were sold for 865,000gns, headed by the 400,000gns Grade III winner Midnight Crossing (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), who was bought by Bryant Prentice’s U.S.-based entity Pursuit of Success. Taylor said that-when considering learning experiences and new relationships as much as dollar amounts-last year’s initial venture was “very successful.”

“Last year we viewed our trip to Tattersalls as a market exploration,” Taylor explained. “We wanted to go over there, participate and see what it was like. We met a lot of people and it was just a great learning experience.”

Taylor provides an insight into the forward-thinking that is paramount in Taylor Made’s philosophy in saying, “Our goal was never to try to be what we are in America in Europe. It was more of wanting to have a presence in Europe and wanting to get to know more people, and we think a lot of good things flow from that; as more and more horses are going back and forth there is much more business being done. On a lot of top American racing outfits’ bucket lists right now is to win at Royal Ascot. A lot of European fillies are coming back to the U.S. because there is lucrative turf racing in America. There’s just a lot more flow of traffic back and forth and a lot more commerce being done. We wanted to position ourselves to get involved in that and expand our brand.”

Taylor said last year’s debut Tattersalls draft opened his eyes to some of the differences between what is desired in America and in Europe. He used as an example the G3 Park Express S. and GIII Santa Barbara S. winner Queen Blossom (Ire) (Jeremy) that Taylor Made sold off the track to Durcan Bloodstock for 110,000gns last year.

“Queen Blossom was a graded winner and a group winner both sides of the pond, but she was by Jeremy who is not a top sire over there,” Taylor said. “She was looked at a ton. She had a great physical by American standards-a big, beautiful mare-and she was looked at so many more times than she would have been looked at in America. But at the end of the day I don’t think she necessarily brought any more money. She brought about what she was worth and there were two reasons for that: one was her sire, and two was she was a really big mare. She wasn’t too big by American standards, she was probably 16.2, but for over there she was a little too big.

“What I’ve learned is that a filly or mare in the U.S., if she’s 15.2 she’s going to get her nose turned up at a bit in America. In Europe if she moves good, she’s right in the wheelhouse of what they’re looking for. On the other side of that a mare like Queen Blossom who was a big mare, in America people would say, ‘wow, she’s really an eyeful, she’s beautiful,’ and they might be more forgiving on her pedigree because they really like the physical. But, over there she was just not exactly what they’re looking for. And it also opened my eyes to why some American sire lines have not been well received or done as well in Europe. Some of the bigger horses, the Unbridled’s Song or some of the A.P. Indy line; in Europe they’re looking for an agile, nimble kind of horse that can get across the ground and the undulations of some of the courses. You need a really fluid-moving, light horse that’s not overly big that if they get stopped they can regroup and hit their gear again. All that stuff really began to make more sense once I got over there and got into the middle of the market.”

This year, Taylor Made brings a pair of mares with form and familiarity on both sides of the Atlantic. Shang Shang Shang was a $200,000 breeze-up purchase at OBS March by Breeze Easy and was a debut winner at Keeneland last April for Wesley Ward before beating males in Royal Ascot’s G2 Norfolk S. in the third-fastest race time of the last 20 years.

“Shang Shang Shang is one that we really debated long and hard about whether to sell her in America or in Europe,” Taylor said. “At the end of the day we decided to take her to Europe because winning the Norfolk at Royal Ascot, beating the boys as a 2-year-old, everybody over there understands what that means and that it’s no easy feat; it’s really a special achievement. In America a lot of people aren’t going to really realize how special that is. It seems that a lot of the stud masters over there are looking for American speed-type mares to put underneath some of their stallions that need that crossed back into them.

“The main thing about Shang Shang Shang is not only that she beat the boys in the G2 Norfolk, but it was the third-fastest running of that race in the last 40 years. She came in in :59 and change, and on that uphill course that’s tough to do. And you look at the horses that have come out of those 2-year-old races and what they’ve gone on to do, like No Nay Never, and he ran just a fraction faster than Shang Shang Shang when he ran five eighths at Royal Ascot. It was a really gutsy performance and Wesley Ward said he thought she was one of the best he’s ever taken over there and that’s a pretty strong statement from him. And Wesley said he thought she was as good on the dirt as she was on the turf. When she won at Keeneland she drew off incredibly easily in her debut and that was on the dirt. He said in his mind it really didn’t make a difference what you ran her on.”

Taylor said he expects Shang Shang Shang to appeal to the global group of buyers that regularly assemble at Tattersalls December.

“Shang Shang Shang is a horse that’s going to appeal to both sides of the Atlantic. She’s got this really beautiful head, a very clean neck, a good shoulder and is very deep through her girth. She’s got a good hip and hind leg. She’s very well balanced and she’s a beautiful-moving filly. I think she’s going to fit people from all over the world and that’s another reason I wanted to take her over there. I think it would be a cool exercise for an American breeder to buy her there, breed her to a top-class European horse, and then maybe bring her back to America for her second breeding. Ideally you could get a foal on the ground that you could target Ascot with by breeding her to a Kingman (GB) or something of that ilk; you could get the best of both worlds, then bring her back to America and breed her to one of the top stallions there.”

Mike Hall and Sam Ross’s Breeze Easy is a relatively new entity in the Thoroughbred business, and Taylor said his team got to know them through longtime associates Randy Hartley and Dean De Renzo.

“Hartley De Renzo have been their principal advisors, and Randy and Dean have bought a lot of good horses off us over the years,” Taylor said. “We really just kind of got to know the Breeze Easy crew through them. When they started developing a broodmare band they bought several high-end purchases off Taylor Made when they were starting out. Now they’ve changed direction a bit. They’re re-tooling their broodmare band, it’s going to be smaller.”

Taylor Made sold a handful of mares for Breeze Easy at this year’s breeding stock sales in Kentucky and those had plenty of international appeal: David Redvers bought Diva Delite (Repent), the dam of five-time Grade I winner Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute), for $1.2 million; John Malone bought the listed-winning and Grade I-placed Crowley’s Law (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) for $700,000 under his Bridlewood Farm/Ballylinch Stud banner, and the Spanish entity Yeguada Centurion bought Urban Ball (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), a three-quarter sister to Canadian champion and sire Perfect Soul (Ire), for $275,000.

“The way I understand their program now is they’re focusing more on dirt,” Taylor said. “They haven’t said this but I think they want to try to get mares that can get a Kentucky Derby winner. Those guys have been incredible for the game, and I think it’s kind of bittersweet for them to sell Shang Shang Shang, but they’re business guys and they’re taking money off the table and re-tooling the second phase of their breeding operation.”

Taylor admitted the decision to send Sophie P back to Newmarket was more straightforward. Sophie P was campaigned at three and four in the UK by trainer Mike Smith and won a quartet of handicaps and was listed-placed. She was bought by American Deron Pearson for 160,000gns at Tattersalls December two years ago through Gordian Troeller and blossomed upon hitting U.S. soil. She won the GI Gamely S. over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita last May in her second start off the plane and in August picked up more black-type when third in the GII Yellow Ribbon H. Sophie P was offered by Taylor Made at last year’s Fasig-Tipton November Sale but was brought home when failing to meet her reserve at $690,000.

“She’d just come off the track and was very light,” Taylor recalled. “If we’d had 30 days to get some weight on her before the sale I think it would have been a different story. She’s a beautiful mare with beautiful angles and a lot of length to her, plenty of leg; you can see why she could run. She was a very talented horse on both sides; she won four races in England before she was exported to America and then won the Grade I over here. But the thought was, ‘hey, we didn’t get her sold, now what’s our plan?’ She was one we actually should have taken over to Europe last year. After we’d gotten through the December sale last year, we thought, ‘we wished we’d brought Sophie P.’

Sophie P is by Bushranger, a grandson of Danehill, out of a Giant’s Causeway mare who is herself out of a Mr. Prospector mare. Taylor pointed out that the mating to Frankel will repeat the prolific Galileo over Danehill cross that Frankel himself represents. The resulting foal will be inbred 3×4 to Danehill.

“If you go back in her pedigree she traces back to Tosmah and Halo; she has a very deep, well respected female family going back,” he added. “She had talent and she’s been bred now to Frankel, one of the best horses on the planet, and we think she’s going to be a pretty package coming in there. She’s really let down into a beautiful mare. We think she’s the whole package now.”

Taylor explained that Pearson is offering Sophie P as part of a restructuring plan for his stable.

“Deron Pearson is a client that keeps mares on our farm but is more focused on racing,” he said. “He’s accumulated some mares sort of by default but he’s getting more and more focused on racing. He’s going to shrink his broodmare band down and Sophie P is a mare he always intended to sell.”

Taylor said he spent some time last year working the sale as a potential buyer, too, and while he didn’t manage to get any deals done on that end, he bid on a few foals and said it was an enjoyable experience.

“I can never go look at horses to buy at the American sales because I’m always 100% focused on selling,” he said. “A couple clients called me last year and said, ‘hey, this might be an opportunity where we could have you go out and try to get us something bought that you’d like as a racehorse.’ I had never even thought about that, but it was really enjoyable going around and looking at other people’s consignments, seeing the presentation they put on, looking at a bunch of really high-quality, well-bred foals. We were really strong, we went in there and swung hard on a few but as I figured it was tough. Over there when you’re going after Frankels and Kingmans and those kinds of horses you’re not going to steal anything. In the end we didn’t get anything bought but it was a good exercise.”

Taylor’s wish list this time around could include fillies and mares from the likes of Juddmonte and Godolphin.

“I’m interested in looking at the Juddmonte reduction and Godolphin has some, so I’m going to be looking at some mares in those groups,” he said. “Juddmonte had a few fillies by First Defence last year. He’d be probably a negative over there but he’s not a bad stallion and he’s by Unbridled’s Song. I tried to get a couple of those but again just ran out of money. We’ll be shopping a bit while we’re over at Tattersalls too.”

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