by Jessica Martini, Brian DiDonato and Christie DeBernardis
LEXINGTON, Kentucky–Figures continued to rise during Tuesday's second session of the Keeneland September sale with increases in both average and median.
Through two days, 227 yearlings have sold for a total of $72,490,000. The cumulative average of $319,399 was up 6.44% from last term's $300,024 and the median rose 12% from $250,000 to $280,000.
Just one yearling broke the seven-figure mark, Hip 399, a Tapit colt out of MGSW Hooh Why, who sold to J.J. Crupi's New Castle Farm for a sale and session-topping $1.2 million. The gray was consigned to the sale by Baccari Bloodstock on behalf of breeder SF Bloodstock.
The sale missed out on another potential seven-figure transaction when a War Front colt out of Horse of the Year Havre de Grace (Saint Liam) (Hip 383) appeared to be a buy-back at $1.9 million. After some confusion, owner/breeder Mandy Pope announced that there had been an error in inputting the intended reserve price and connections were pursuing potential private sales or partnerships.
“Mr. Crupi at the end broke through the glass ceiling, which was very good,” commented Keeneland's Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell. “It was very strong, though, up through the $900,000 range. Twenty-five horses today sold from half a million dollars to a below a million against 18 last year. There is great strength in that level and a little hesitation above that level.”
He added, “As I said [Monday] night, a million dollars is a lot of money and to break through that, you have to have that special horse that meets all the criteria. It's nice to see the strength at that $500,000 to $900,000, but then we always like break-out horses.”
Russell once again commented on the depth and diversity of buyers on the sales sheets. The top 20 yearlings have been sold to 17 different buyers from all over the world.
“No one entity seems to be dominating,” he said. “The buyer bench is deep and spread out between international and domestic, so that aspect is very positive.”
The buy-back rate fell from 35.71% Monday to 31.21% Tuesday for a cumulative RNA rate of 33.43%.
“With many of these people being end users, the buy-back rate of Book 1 is always, I won't say difficult to maintain or manage, but these people have the ability to race these horses too,” Russell remarked. “The buy-back rate is more manageable [Tuesday] and we hope it continues on.”
The final session of Book 1 gets underway Wednesday in Lexington at 11:00 a.m. For full results, visit www.keeneland.com.
Tapit on Top
A colt by Tapit became the Keeneland September sale's highest-priced yearling and second million-dollar purchase when bloodstock agent Jim Crupi bid $1.2 million to secure hip 399 late in Tuesday's second session of the auction.
“I think I bought the best horse of the sale,” Crupi exclaimed after signing the ticket on the gray colt. “He had a beautiful body and a beautiful walk and I fell in love with him. We weren't leaving here without him.”
Crupi confirmed the colt's leading sire Tapit, whose juvenile fillies Sweet Loretta and Pretty City Dancer shared the victory in the Sept. 3 GI Spinaway S., was part of the yearling's appeal.
“You can knock any horse–he has some knocks, but Tapit overcomes those knocks. We just finished in a dead-heat with two Tapits in a Grade I at Saratoga,” he said.
Crupi, who declined to name the purchaser of this horse, added of the yearling, “He'll be broke at Crupi's New Castle Farm and then moved on probably to [trainer] Todd Pletcher.
The seven-figure yearling is the second foal out of 2009 GI Ashland S. winner Hooh Why (Cloud Hopping). He was consigned by Chris Baccari's Baccari Bloodstock on behalf of breeder SF Bloodstock.
“The mare was a really good racehorse herself and physically, I think he is a very special Tapit,” Baccari said.
SF Bloodstock purchased Hooh Why, in foal to Leroidesanimaux (Brz), for $550,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton November sale. The mare, with this Tapit foal in utero, RNA'd for $750,000 at the 2014 Keeneland November sale.
“He has been a beautiful colt since the day he was born,” said Tom Ryan of SF Bloodstock. “We loved the mare–she's been so good at every stage of her career–and to have a foal like that is pretty special. If there isn't the money for a horse like that here, there will never be the money.”
War Front–Havre de Grace Colt RNAs After $1.9-Million Mistake
A War Front colt out of 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace (Saint Liam) failed to find a new home Tuesday after an error in the inputting of his reserve price led to the bay being bought back for $1.9 million. Wayne and Cathy Sweezey's Timber Town consigned the colt as hip 383 on behalf of his breeder, Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm. Pope paid a record $10 million for Havre de Grace at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton November sale, and was visibly distraught after realizing that the colt hadn't sold.
Pope later ventured up to the Keeneland press box along with advisor Todd Quast to give a statement on the situation to the media:
We told [prospective buyers] the reserve was going to be one thing, and we ran it way past that. That's not what we intended to do at all. Since I've been in this business, I've always been honest and done everything the right way. I want people to understand that this was a total mix-up–I did not intend for this to happen. We had what we thought was a reasonable reserve on the horse, which many were told, and there were people around there when he went through the ring that knew what that reserve was… A mistake was made, the correct people have taken responsibility for it, but it is what it is. We can't go back and change it and undo it, so I'd like to apologize to all agents who thought we were trying to take advantage of them–we certainly were not. I love the horse, I'm happy to have him, [but] he came to the sale to be sold. I want people to know that when I bring these horses to the sale, I bring them to sell them. The ones I don't want to sell, I keep home. I have [Havre de Grace]'s 2-year-old filly by Tapit, and I have a weanling out of the mare by Tapit, so I wanted to sell this one. The horse is still for sale at what we think is a reasonable price, and hopefully people will come back and look at him again, or talk with Wayne and Cathy Sweezey. If they still have an interest, we'd still be interested in selling the horse. I'd also be interested in keeping part of the horse to do a partnership.”
When asked to comment on the incident from his perspective, Keeneland's Geoffrey Russell said, “That would have been something between her and her consignor… The reserve that we were given is what we went to.” –@BDiDonatoTDN
Mack, Jones Feeling Nostalgic
Bill Mack, acting on behalf of himself and longtime partner Bob Baker, stretched to $900,000 early in Tuesday's Keeneland September session to take home a Tapit colt out of 2011 GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Believe You Can (Proud Citizen). The grey was consigned to the sale by Brereton Jones' Airdrie Stud as hip 207. Jones campaigned Believe You Can, and bought her back for $4.9 million at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton November sale carrying hip 207.
Mack and Baker owned 2002 GI Kentucky Derby runner-up and GI Preakness S. third Proud Citizen along with David Cornstein, and retired him to Airdrie, where he stood his entire career until passing away 17 this June.
“He's a Tapit out of a Proud Citizen mare, and Bob Baker and myself owned Proud Citizen and we were partners with Brerie on Proud Citizen in the breeding shed,” noted Mack, who was joined by bloodstock agent Hugo Merry for the bidding process. “[Hip 207] is pretty nostalgic for us. Tapit's a great sire, he's a great sire and we hope for the best.”
Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, who trained Proud Citizen among other standouts for Mack and Baker, was seated behind Mack and was one of the first to congratulate the real estate developer after he signed the ticket, but Mack said a trainer for the colt had not yet been determined.
Mack, Baker and Lukas were recently represented by narrow GI Hopeful S. runner-up Royal Copy (Bodemeister).
Mack and Baker bought a $575,000 Tiznow colt during Monday's KEESEP opener.
Proud Citizen had been very good to Jones in his time at Airdrie, siring 2008 Kentucky Oaks heroine and champion 3-year-old filly Proud Spell in addition to Believe You Can.
The affable former governor of Kentucky said he was pleased with the price on hip 207, and happy with where he was going.
“They're good friends, and that's the fun of the horse business,” he said. “If you can do these things and do it with friends, then in that process, times just seem to get better instead of worse. There's something about the horse business that just got me excited when I was young. I remember when I was six years old… My father had a couple of farmers with him–we were all farmers [in West Virginia]–and one of them came up to me and he said, 'Son, what are you going to be when you grow up?' And I looked at him and I said, 'I'm going to raise horses in Kentucky.' And they looked at me like, 'Where did that boy get that crazy idea?'”
Jones noted that hip 207 had gotten the seal of approval from Believe You Can's trainer Larry Jones.
“Larry Jones had told me that this colt had the best throat of any horse that he checked over the last couple days, and I thought that was a pretty positive thing,” he revealed.
No Keeping Up With the Joneses Tuesday
Brereton Jones' Airdrie Stud had already sold a Tapit colt for $900,000 earlier in Tuesday's session, and another one of their offerings garnered the same price tag later in the day. Hip 305, a War Front half-brother to MGISW Include Me Out (Include) and GISW Check the Label (Stormin Fever), will be heading to Japan after Shadai Farm's Teruya Yoshida saw off all challengers.
“You've got to start with the page, because the page is as good as we can bring up here,” said Airdrie's Bret Jones. “War Front needs absolutely no introduction, and the mare has been as good to us as any mare has–two Grade I winners, and hopefully she's just getting started. This colt has always been at the absolute top of the list. He was turned out in the same field as our Tapit colt who sold so well earlier. Those two have been running around, butting heads and getting competitive, and it's pretty special to see them both show up on the same day and do so well.”
Hip 305 is out of the unraced Don't Trick Her (Mazel Trick), a second generation Jones homebred. Don't Trick Her's Divine Park filly later named Divine Heart sold for $500,000 here in 2012. This is also the family of Grade I winners Sam's Sister (Brother Derek) and Sweet Talker (Stormin Fever).
While both of the Airdrie colts were among the sale's toppers, Bret Jones acknowledged that there seemed to be a ceiling at that level.
“There's a ceiling that us consignors wish didn't exist right now, but at the end of the day, people are buying a very nice horse and aren't being silly with what they're paying for them,” he said. “Both of those horses were worth every bit of what they brought, and I think there's still plenty of upside on the racetrack and beyond for them.”
Shadai acquired three yearlings Monday for a combined $735,000, and Yoshida said he has found the market somewhat soft compared to JRHA sale held in his native country in July.
As for the appeal of hip 305 specifically, he said, “Nice conformation–well-made body, good pedigree–everything.” –@BDiDonatoTDN
Lothenbach Looking for Athletes
Midwest-based trainers Neil Pessin and Chris Block have been active in a higher segment of the market at Keeneland September this week bidding on behalf of Bob Lothenbach's Lothenbach Stables.
Through Tuesday, Lothenbach Stables has been responsible for five purchases worth a combined $2.13 million:
1. Hip 135, a $430,000 Arch colt from the family of GI Arkansas Derby winner Archarcharch (Arch) who was consigned by Peter O'Callaghan's Woods Edge Farm.
2. Hip 188, a Lemon Drop Kid filly out of a GSP half-sister to local GI Darley Alcibiades S. winner Wickedly Perfect (Congrats). The $400,000 acquisition was consigned by Wayne and Cathy Sweezey's Timber Town on behalf of Shel Evans.
3. Hip 209, a Tapit colt out of Grade II winner Belle of Perintown (Dehere), who is already responsible for GSW Strike it Rich (Unbridled's Song). Consigned by Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck's Summerfield, Agent for Stonestreet Bred & Raised, the grey cost $650,000.
4. Hip 299, a $250,0000 son of Shanghai Bobby consigned by Select Sales, Agent for Machmer Hall.
5. Hip 337, a son of the late Arch out of a half-sister to English highweight Observatory (Distant View) who went for $400,000. Paramount Sales consigned the colt on behalf of Sierra Farm.
“Everything–he had a good, walk, balance, athletic,” Pessin said when asked about the Tapit colt. “He passed the vet, which is a biggie nowadays. He's a Tapit, and we think he's going to be a nice racehorse–at least we hope he is, anyway.”
Pessin acknowledged that Lothenbach has been shopping at a different level this year. By comparison, Lothenbach Stables purchased 14 horses at last year's KEESEP sale, but none for more than $190,000 and for a total of $1.665 million.
Lothenbach founded Minnesota-based Imagine! Print Solutions in 1988, and sold the company earlier this year to a private equity firm.
“We're just trying to buy some nice horses at this sale,” Pessin said. “We don't have any set limits on horses–if we like them, we're going to try and buy them. We were the underbidder on another one that brought $900,000–we bid $875,000. He wants good, athletic horses, and that's what we're trying to get him. We've got a few so far, but we've been outbid on some, too.”
Lothenbach is probably best known in racing circles for his homebred Vacare (Lear Fan), who annexed the 2006 GI Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland while under the care of Block. Lothenbach subsequently sold Vacare for $2.8 million at that year's Fasig-Tipton November sale.
Lothenbach might have another filly poised to make some noise over the turf in Lexington.
Pessin trainee Scatter Gun (Scat Daddy), herself a $180,000 KEESEP yearling in 2013, broke her maiden by 5 1/2 lengths at Kentucky Downs last September and returned from an 11-month lay-off to take a lucrative allowance back over that quirky course Sunday.
“She's a nice filly,” said Pessin when asked about what might be next. “All I can tell you is Keeneland–I'm not sure what spot yet. I'm not even sure short or long. We'll see how she comes out of the race and then make a decision.” –@BDiDonatoTDN
Newcomer Proves 'Best' on Medag Filly
Larry Best, who has been in the racing business all of one day, won a spirited bidding war with Fox Hill Farm's Victoria Keith to take home Hip 298, a daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, for $750,000. Best, who buys and will race as OXO Equine, plans to put the filly in training with Chad Brown.
Out of MSW & MGSP Distorted Passion (Distorted Humor), the bay is a full-sister to GII Lake George S. winner Mrs. McDougal, who was third in the GI Just a Game S. and is trained by Brown.
“She has great breeding, is a very healthy horse and very clean,” said Best, who picked the filly out himself. “I just like the whole story. Clean horse. Scopey horse. I think she is going to win a Grade I. Everything about her is worth the bet.”
The Boston native added, “We are going to ask Eddie Woods if we can send her down there and have him break her for us and then she will go to Chad Brown.”
Best spent many years working for Boston Scientific and recently decided to try his hand in the racing business. He just bought into a pair of yearlings bred by his coworker Jim Walker and this is the first horse he has purchased for his solo venture OXO Equine.
“I recently got enough time to be exposed to [racing],” he remarked, while seated alongside Walker in the pavilion. “I've always liked the racing industry and I have more time on my hands. I wanted to do something that was challenging, but fun.”
Best continued, “I have two other horses with my partner [Jim Walker], who kind of exposed me to the nuts and bolts of the business. We have a Midshipman and a Gio Ponti, both yearlings. We are sending them down to Bridlewood.”
My partner bred them. Jim and I are old working buddies. I spent a lot of years at a company called Boston Scientific in the medical device world and we worked closely there. He is a very detailed guy, as am I, and we just got interested in getting serious. We are not partners on this filly, but we are on those other two and I am trying to bring him up.”
Taylor Made Sales's Frank Taylor and breeder Marie Jones were the first to congratulate Best on his purchase.
“I think she was worth it,” said Jones, who added that the filly currently has a Pioneerof the Nile filly on the ground and was bred back to Medaglia d'Oro. “She is a great filly with good potential. She has a long stride and is out of a good mare. I hope she does well for them and brings them hapiness.”
Jones and her late husband Aaron paid $800,000 for Distorted Passion at the 2010 Keeneland November sale and she has returned that investment handsomely. Her first foal, a colt named Primal Instinct (Giant's Causeway), brought $300,000 at this sale in 2012; Mrs. McDougal was a $450,000 graduate here the following year, and her 2015 colt Tunnel Vision (Giant's Causeway) brought $600,000 at last year's renewal.
A son of Medaglia d'Oro (Hip 48) topped the opening session of the Keeneland September sale Monday when selling to Coolmore's M.V. Magnier for $1 million. Also consigned by Taylor Made, the colt was the only seven-figure yearling to sell on Day 1. Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm, who was the underbidder on this filly, campaigns the Darley sire's undefeated champion daughter Songbird. —CDeBernardisTDN
Coolmore Scoops Up Son of Scat Daddy
Coolmore's M.V. Magnier was back in action during Tuesday's session, going to $750,000 to secure Hip 347, a son of the late Scat Daddy, who stood at Coolmore's Ashford Stud until his untimely death last December at just 11 years old.
“He's a lovely horse by an extremely good sire,” remarked Magnier after signing the ticket out back beside the walking ring. “It was a huge disappointment to lose Scat Daddy last year.
The way [G1SW] No Nay Never (Scat Daddy) is making his foals at the moment, you just have to have a lot of respect for Scat Daddy and with the two best 2-year-olds in Europe so far being Lady Aurelia and Caravaggio [who are also by Scat Daddy].”
Consigned by Lane's End and bred by K & G Stables, the bay is out of SW Fools in Love (Not For Love) and is a half-brother to GSP Urban Bourbon (City Zip). This is also the family of MGSW millionaire International Star (Fusaichi Pegasus).
“He just a very nice horse,” Magnier said of the yearling. “He will most likely go to Europe.”
Scat Daddy passed away at the end of a banner year at stud and his progeny have continued to do very well this term. His undefeated “TDN Rising Star” daughter Lady Aurelia's most recent victory came in the G1 Darley Prix Morny and the also unbeaten Caravaggio captured the G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. last time out. Scat Daddy has also been represented by three Grade I winners in the U.S. this year in Dacita (Chi), Celestine and Harmonize.
The leading sire has also done quite well in the sales ring as well. During the first two sessions of this sale alone he was represented by 15 yearlings that sold for a gross of $4.755 million, with this colt being the most expensive.
“Scat Daddy can get you exceptionally good-looking horses and No Nay Never looks like he is doing the same thing,” said Magnier, whose Coolmore Ireland stands No Nay Never. “It will be exciting when they start coming into the sales ring.”
Magnier also purchased a filly by Scat Daddy (Hip 276) earlier in Tuesday's session for $375,000. Consigned by Runnymede Farm, who bred the filly along with Peter Callahan, the chestnut is out of Dame Ursula (GB) (Elusive Quality), a half-sister to Japanese champion Agnes Digital (Crafty Prospector). —@CDeBernardisTDN
Baffert Hoping 'Pioneer' Continues to Provide
Bob Baffert conditioned Pioneerof the Nile to a pair of Grade I victories and the stallion has continued to be successful for the Hall of Famer since retiring to WinStar, having sired Baffert's 2015 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah. The California-based trainer, who also conditions American Pharoah's GISP full-sister American Cleopatra hopes to find continued success with another son of his former pupil, Hip 346, who Baffert purchased for $650,000 on behalf of an undisclosed client during Tuesday's session.
“I've had a lot of luck with that sire line,” the 63-year-old said. “As an individual, I really liked him a lot. If you really like the horse, you buy it.”
He added, “It was a little more [than I expected to pay]. The way the sale has been going, you have to pay for all the really good stuff. You don't want to give that kind of money, but you have to pay to play, otherwise you aren't going to have any horses. I really think he looked the part, so I knew he'd be expensive. He looked very expensive.”
Bred by William Sims, the son of Flat Screen (Pulpit) is a half-brother to GSW Native Bombshell (War Front). Purchased for $195,000 at the Keeneland January sale, he was consigned to this sale by Peter O'Callaghan's Woods Edge Farm, who had several successful pinhooking sessions during Monday's session. (Click here for more on O'Callaghan's Monday success).
Baffert also provided updates on his current Pioneerof the Nile star American Cleopatra and his GI Travers S. top two finishers Arrogate (Unbridled's Song) and American Freedom (Pulpit). Bred and raced by Zayat Stables just like her sire and champion brother, American Cleopatra was tabbed a “TDN Rising Star” following an impressive debut victory at Del Mar July 31 and finished second next out in the GI Del Mar Debutante S. Sept. 3.
“She's fine. She's doing well,” Baffert remarked out back by the walking ring. “She is going to run in the [GI] Chandelier [S. at Santa Anita Oct. 1].”
Fellow “TDN Rising Star” Arrogate scored a track-record setting victory at odds of 11-1 in the Aug. 27 Travers, blazing from gate-to-wire to score by 13 1/2 lengths over stablemate American Freedom, a Grade III winner who also finished second in the GI Betfair.com Haskell Invitational S.
“Arrogate's doing great,” Baffert offered. “He's doing really, really well. He will go right to the [Nov. 5 GI Breeders' Cup] Classic with no preps.”
Timely Investment for Machmer Hall
When Carrie Brogden of Machmer Hall and Select Sales realized she had stiff competition for a colt by Gio Ponti at the 2013 Keeneland November sale, she called an audible and bought the weanling's dam, Eltimaas (Ghostzapper), for $77,000 instead. The weanling went on to become GI King's Bishop S. winner and 'TDN Rising Star' Drefong and Brogden was rewarded Tuesday at Keeneland when his half-sister by Animal Kingdom sold for $400,000 to Juddmonte Farms.
“We were pinhooking and I saw this unbelievable Gio Ponti,” Brogden recalled Tuesday.
“When I went to see him again, there was a line of maybe the three top pinhookers who were single showing him. I looked at my catalogue and saw the mare was right in front of him. So we bought her for $77,000. Woods Edge bought [the weanling] for $200,000 and sold him for $450,000 [as a yearling] and he became a Grade I winner.”
The unraced Eltimaas is a half-sister to juvenile champion Action This Day. The 9-year-old mare is currently in foal to Candy Ride (Arg) and is entered in Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale, according to Brogden.
Brogden admitted the yearling (hip 325) is a very different sort than her speedy half-brother.
“She looks much more like her father,” Brogden said of the yearling from the first Northern Hemisphere crop of GI Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. “Drefong was more of a quarter horse build with a gigantic hip. This filly reminded me a lot more of her father. She's big and correct. She's much more Animal Kingdom. He was much more Gio Ponti and Ghostzapper.”
Brogden has been encouraged by activity through two days of the September sale as she sees juvenile pinhookers who seemed hesitant to bid at earlier yearling sales becoming more aggressive even as sellers adjust their expectations.
“After the July sale and the Saratoga sale and the OBS sale, I warned every single 2-year-old pinhooker that they were pulling back way too much,” she said. “Those are traditionally very good sales for the 2-year-old pinhookers to buy at and make a lot of money. I kept hearing them say, 'But there are 4,000 more in September.' Well, when everyone thinks that, I think that has made this a very fair market. All of our owners have adjusted for the change in market. There are loads of people for $500,000 and under type horses. Even now, we are selling horses without perfect vetting in a very fair market. We had a Shanghai Bobby colt (hip 299) who had seven scopes and I put a $119,000 reserve on him. I was hoping he would bring $150,000 and he brought $250,000. But he was an athlete and the right type of physical for this sale. So I am very encouraged.” @JessMartiniTDN
Arrogate Half-Sister to Bridlewood
Hip 226, a filly by Medaglia d'Oro, strode into the Keeneland sales ring Tuesday with a major update in her back pocket. The dark bay yearling is a half-sister to Arrogate (Unbridled's Song), who turned heads with his record-breaking GI Travers S. win at Saratoga last month. When the hammer fell, the youngster sold for $300,000 to Bridlewood Farm.
“I am in a complete state of euphoria and shock,” admitted Bridlewood manager George Isaacs after signing the ticket. “I absolutely thought I stole her. I know she wasn't free of a few faults, but I was prepared to go quite a bit higher to get into that family knowing what we all know. I think she was a complete no-brainer.”
Bred and consigned by Clearsky Farms, the yearling is out of multiple stakes winner and graded stakes placed Bubbler (Distorted Humor) and from the family of champion Meadow Star.
“We'll give her plenty of time to mature and try to give her her day on the racetrack,” Isaacs said. “She was a long-term acquisition for the broodmare band for Bridlewood. [In addition to her half-brother] she is by a real sire, too, so she had plenty going for her.” @JessMartiniTDN