Eighty WinStar-Breds Head to Keeneland; `A Spectacular Crop,' Says Hanley

WinStar's David Hanley | Keeneland photo


With just around 100 homebred yearlings every year, WinStar Farm puts a particular importance on the Keeneland September Sale, this year selling four-fifths of their annual crop over 12 days starting on Monday, September 11. That importance could be about to pay off, as by all accounts the 80-strong WinStar-breds entered in the sale are a particularly strong group this year.
“For us, it's the most important sale,” concedes WinStar's general manager David Hanley. “It's the sale that really represents the market for yearlings. You've got the biggest amount of buyers. We send a few horses to July. We try to send usually three to five horses to Saratoga. We like to support that sale, and then the majority of our horses go to Keeneland. That's really the market.”

Hanley was asked why this particular group was getting early buzz as a top group.

“In general, we keep trying to increase the quality of our mares that we buy and we try to cull some every year and try and bring in new blood,” he said. “Also, in the last few years, we have bred to more to outside stallions as well as our own. Obviously, we have some of our stallions here, but we have spread it a bit more, whereas in the last number of years, sometimes we've bred a lot of mares to young stallions to try and get them started. And if one of them hits, great. But if he doesn't, it can hurt you in the sales ring. So, we're increasing the quality of our mares, which means you breed them to a higher-quality stallion.”

Six of the 80 expected to draw some attention at the sale demonstrate just that, with three of them by WinStar stalwarts Distorted Humor, Speightstown, and Constitution; the other three, by top outside stallions.

As an example, he points out hip 87, by Curlin and the third foal out of the GIII Delaware Oaks winner Dark Nile (Pioneerof the Nile), who died giving birth to this colt. He is consigned by Warrandale Sales.

“We raced Dark Nile,” he said. “She was a Grade III winner trained by Arnaud Delacour, and this is just a lovely horse. He's a typical Curlin, very powerful, very good mover.”

Hip 337, a filly by Uncle Mo-Starship Warpspeed, is “one of the best we've had on the farm in several years,” says David Hanley | Thorostride photo

Hip 337 is a filly by Uncle Mo out of Starship Warpspeed, responsible for producing the multiple Grade I winner Shedaresthedevil. She will be offered through Denali.

“She's a beautiful filly,” said Hanley. “She's been a standout foal from the moment she was a week old and she's continued to grow and develop like we hoped she would. She's a good-sized filly with plenty of leg and stretch to her, but she's full of quality and a very light, easy-moving filly who seems to be all class. She's absolutely beautiful when you see her standing up there. She's got such a beautiful neck, shoulder, head, and beautiful hip on her and she's got the class and presence to go with it. I think she's a really special filly, one of the best fillies we've had on the farm in several years.”

Hip 125 is by Justify, and is the second foal from the WinStar-raced First Hour (Speightstown). Her very deep page features the multiple graded stakes winner Justwhistledixie (Dixie Union), GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner New Year's Day (Street Cry {Ire}), and GII Remsen and Fountain of Youth winner Mohaymen (Tapit), among others.

“This is the first foal out of a Speightstown mare,” said Hanley. “We bought her mother as a foal and we raced her. She had some issues as a yearling and didn't really get to show her potential on the racetrack. She was not a very big filly, but a beautifully balanced quality filly. It's an incredible family, with some very talented horses on the page. And when we saw her as a foal, we decided to buy her and race her, mostly for her broodmare potential. his first foal is a big, strapping, powerful Justify filly. She's gorgeous standing there, with a great neck, beautiful shoulder, and great attitude as well. She carries herself with great poise and great class. A really exciting filly by Justify.”

Hanley also points out three top prospects by WinStar stallions.

Hip 125, by <a href=Justify | Thorostride photo" width="1024" height="768" />Hip 282 is a filly by Distorted Humor out of Princess Ash (Indian Charlie), and is a full-sister to Quip, the GII Oaklawn H. and Tampa Bay Derby winner who was second in the GI Arkansas Derby. She sells with Denali Stud.

“For a Distorted Humor, she's got a lot of size, and being out of an Indian Charlie mare she's got leg and stretch to her,” he said. “She's a very, very good physical for a Distorted Humor. She's a really easy mover, hits the ground very lightly, and has great limbs on her. She has a beautiful neck and head and is full of quality. It's the last available crop of Distorted Humor yearlings and being as good a broodmare sire as he is and her being a half to a Group I-level horse, I think she's a unique package.”

Hip 442 is a filly by Speightstown, selling with Machmer Hall, out of Ballykiss (Street Boss), who produced the fast multiple stakes winner Miss J McKay (Hangover Kid).

“She's a beautiful physical and she's got a lot of leg under her for Speightstown. She's got a lot of stretch, but yet she's got that body of the Speightstowns, with muscle structure and scope, but yet looks like she could be fast. She's a beautiful mover. Very correct and very classy. We're very excited about her. We expect her to sell well.”

Hip 779, consigned by Elite, is a colt by Constitution out of the young mare America's Tale (Gio Ponti), and is her second foal.

“This is a horse that we loved all along,” said Hanley. “He's a medium-sized horse, not overly heavy, very athletic. He's out of a Gio Ponti mare and obviously, the Storm Cat on Tapit is attractive. But the best thing about him is he moves like a cat, very balanced, lovely level top line, great neck set and head carriage. He's a real athlete when you see him move.”

Hanley's prediction for the overall market is one we've heard a lot in recent years.

“For the people buying top-end bloodstock, I think they're going to be strong as ever. The colt market that we play in a lot is strong. There are a number of groups that are buying colts to try and make stallions over the last number of years, and I think they're all going to be doing it again, which makes it a very strong market for a selective group of horses that have the pedigree and the physical conformation.”

WinStar-breds are spread about with 10 different consignors throughout the sale, a diversity WinStar finds beneficial.

“There are several advantages to it,” he said. “First, your horses are not competing against each other. We will have several yearlings by, say, Constitution, and we don't put them all standing against each other in one consignment where it's human nature to come in and pick the one you like. And we're buying horses so it's difficult for us to try to run a consignment and buy horses. And, we like to support our breeders and I think giving horses to consignors who breed mares with us is nice a nice way to give them back something.”

Hanley gave a shout-out to the team back at the farm for this year's crop.

“Our team here on the farm, our yearling crew led by Donnie Preston, I think they do an exceptional job in raising these horses. We try to raise them naturally. They're out in big pastures that are never overused. They come up in the morning, get fed and checked, and go back out. We try to raise racehorses and I'd like to compliment our team on the job they've done at presenting these horses because I think they all look spectacular.”

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