Elm Tree Stars Again as KEESEP Surpasses 2021 Gross

Session-topping hip 2214 | Keeneland photo


Jody and Michelle Huckabay's Elm Tree Farm consigned a son of Curlin on behalf of Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Bred & Raised that topped Saturday's fifth session of the Keeneland September Sale in Lexington on a bid of $900,000. Just 48 hours later, the couple sold a colt by leading sire Candy Ride (Arg) for $600,000 to repeat the dose during yet another solid day of trade Monday which saw the sale surpass its turnover from last year with fully five days of selling remaining.

Monday's topper was one of 10 horses sold for better than a quarter-million dollar during a session where 314 youngsters were reported as sold for $27,544,000. The average of $87,720 and median price of $67,500 represented gains of 2.4% and 12.5%, respectively, over the figures from 2021. As the sale began its second week, a total of 1,556 yearlings have changed hands for $355,453,500, shooting past last year's sale gross of $352,823,000. The average of $228,441 was an improvement of just over 11% year-over-year, while the median of $160,000 is up by a healthy 6.7%.

Topper Far Exceeds Expectations…

Jody Huckabay was as surprised as anyone in the Keeneland sales pavilion when hip 2214 proved as popular in the ring as he did. Former Barretts sales executive Kim Lloyd signed the winning ticket at $600,000 on behalf of owner Michael Talla's Talla Racing, a hammer price that far outpaced Huckabay's expectations. Same as the Saturday topper, Elm Tree was offering Monday's colt on behalf of Stonestreet.

“I really thought around $400,000,” he admitted when asked how he had appraised the colt. “That certainly wasn't the reserve, he was here to sell, but we are tickled with what he brought. I think the Stonestreet clan were pleased as well, so it's smiles all around.

“He was a very neat little horse,” Huckabay continued. “We certainly didn't expect him to do that, but we're very pleased that he did. I say we didn't expect it…as time went on, we heard that he was in the top two or three horses selling today, but we weren't expecting that kind of money, to be honest.”

Barbara Banke's high-class operation purchased hip 2214's second dam, Ticket to Houston (Houston) in foal to Storm Cat for an even $2 million at this auction house's November Sale back in 2005. Twelve months prior, the mare's daughter Runway Model (Petionville) carried the colors of owner Naveed Chowhan to victory in the GII Darley Alcibiades S. up at the local racetrack. The half-sister to SW Mambo Train (Kingmambo) would go on to become the dam of 'TDN Rising Star' and current Gainesway stallion McKinzie (Street Sense).

Hip 2214 is the latest produce from Ticket to Houston's daughter Essentially (Maclean's Music), whose now 2-year-old colt Twisted Tightly (Hard Spun) sold to Mike Ryan for $350,000 at last year's September sale.

“He was just a very, very good mover,” Huckabay said of Monday's topper. “He did it all with ease and just a very well-made colt. He moved like an athlete. It worked out that we moved him back a session or two and he ended up being a star.

People were here with enthusiasm bidding today at all different levels. Yes, we got lucky with him, but we sold our whole consignment, everybody sold today, so we are very pleased.”

The Huckabays consider themselves fortunate to be entrusted with horses for Stonestreet.

“Their team came to us several years ago, John Moynihan in particular, for us to sell for them and we were really excited and blown away to even be considered,” Jody Huckabay said. “Now after 10 or 12 years of doing this–every year they send us a nice horse and this year it just so happens we got two very nice horses, session-toppers. The Curlin was an absolutely gorgeous individual and we think he was a very special horse. I can't say enough positives about what Barbara brings to the industry and helping people in the business, big and little. She's just wonderful for the business all the way around.”

Take Charge Indy Back With a Vengeance…

The late Chuck and Maribeth Sandford's Take Charge Indy (A.P. Indy) covered sizable books of mares in his first two years at stud at WinStar Farm in 2014 and 2015, but by the end of the following season, the nursery's Elliott Walden announced that the difficult decision had been made to sell the son of Take Charge Lady (Dehere) to the Korea Racing Authority while retaining the right to return the stallion to the U.S. in the future.

From his first two crops, Take Charge Indy sired the likes of Triple Crown prep winners Noble Indy (GII Louisiana Derby) and Long Range Toddy (GII Rebel S.), as well as GIII Forward Gal S. victress Take Charge Paula. By the middle of 2019, Walden was in discussions to repatriate Take Charge Indy and about this time that year, it was announced that the ridgling would return to WinStar for the 2020 breeding season.

“He has been well received,” Walden said of Take Charge Indy's popularity since coming home. “I think he fits a great mix with being one of the last really good sons of A.P. Indy and at his price point, he's a proven stallion that people want to buy into. He's done well and we're excited about what he's thrown.”

During Monday's session at Keeneland, a member of that first crop–hip 2199–caught the attention of many sales-goers and was ultimately hammered down to WinStar entity Maverick Racing and Siena Farm for $425,000, the third-dearest price of the session.

“He was that best Take Charge Indy that I've ever seen,” Walden said. “He's got a great physique, tremendous strength, full of quality and had a very solid pedigree well. He wasn't cheap, he was pricey, but we just felt like being by a proven stallion that had really good success when he was here before we felt like it was worth taking a shot. We loved this colt today.”

A Mar. 10 foal consigned to the September sale by Taylor Made as agent, the bay is out of the unraced Ghostzapper mare Dynamic Doll, a half-sister to Grade III winners Lawn Ranger (U S Ranger) and Georgie's Angel (Bellamy Road). The latter is the dam of 'TDN Rising Star' Cave Rock (Arrogate), a perfect two-for-two in his young career and recent winner of the GI Runhappy Del Mar Futurity. Take Charge Indy is himself a half-brother to Charming (Seeking the Gold), the dam of Omaha Beach (War Front), whose first-crop yearlings have been hot commodities at the September sale.

According to Walden, Take Charge Indy bred 100 mares this year after covering 117 in 2021.

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