By Jessica Martini
LEXINGTON, KY – The Fasig-Tipton Winter Mixed Sale, which had never produced a seven-figure offering in its history, had three million-dollar mares go through the ring in an action-packed final hour of its two-day run in Lexington Tuesday. The final horse through the ring, Zetta Z (Bernardini), supplemented to the auction just Sunday, provided an exclamation point of the auction when selling for $2 million to Coolmore Stud. As expected, the dispersal of the bloodstock of the late Robert Lothenbach dominated the results sheet, accounting for the $1.3 million Bell's the One (Majesticperfection), who sold to the bid of bloodstock agent Catherine Hudson, and the $1.1 million She Can't Sing (Bernardini), who sold to Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa.
Eleven of Tuesday's top 12 prices were from horses from the dispersal, including the auction's top-priced short yearling, a colt by Into Mischief purchased for $650,000 by North Ocean Equine. In all, 62 horses sold for the dispersal for a gross of $8,263,000. The dispersal average was $133,274 and the median was $42,500.
“It was unfortunate circumstances with Mr. Lothenbach passing, but we are very appreciative of the estate giving us the opportunity, between the digital sale and today and yesterday,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “But it is also a reflection of a man who had a program that raised and raced horses the right way. He gave horses time and he used trainers who took care of the horses. He had a long-term perspective and he was in it for all the right reasons. He loved racing. And that shared passion of racing is ultimately what fuels everything that we do in our industry.”
Bolstered by the dispersal, 372 horses grossed $21,687,000 for an average of $58,298 and a median of $17,000.
Outside of the dispersal, Browning said the auction's results proved demand for horses remained strong.
“It wasn't just on three horses,” Browning said. “Talking to the consignors across the board, the ones that sold horses for thousands of dollars or ten of thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars, they felt like it was a very, very legitimate marketplace. Buyers, whether they had $5,000 to spend, $50,000 to spend or $500,000 to spend, found competition and found it not easy to buy horses. Which is where you want the marketplace to be. You want it to be competitive on both the buying and selling side of things. We saw that the last two days.”
Browning concluded, “All in all, it's been a fantastic two days. It wildly exceeded our expectations and we normally have high expectations for ourselves and for the quality of horses we are selling. It was damn good and it feels really good to say in February it was damn good. And it was.”
Coolmore Pays $2 Million for Dam of Nysos
Zetta Z (Bernardini) (hip 536), added to the Fasig-Tipton Winter Mixed catalogue just hours after her son Nysos (Nyquist)'s tour de force victory in the GIII Robert B. Lewis S. Saturday, ended the two-day auction with an exclamation point when selling for $2 million to Coolmore Stud.
“She is a beautiful mare and she completely stood out here,” said Coolmore's Adrian Wallace after signing the ticket on the mare in the back walking ring. “Obviously being the dam of such a talented young colt with his whole future ahead of him, she was a must-have. Mr. [John] Magnier and M V [Magnier] were very interested in her from the very beginning.”
The 14-year-old mare, consigned by Grovendale Sales, sold Tuesday in foal to Cyberknife and will likely have a date with Triple Crown winner Justify this year, according to Wallace.
“She's a wonderful mare and she is obviously in foal to a very exciting young sire,” Wallace said. “Hopefully, she will be a nice mare to add to Justify's book when the time comes.”
In addition to Nysos, Zetta Z is also the dam of a now-yearling colt by Yaupon who sold to Randy Hartley and Dean DeRenzo's AAA Thoroughbreds for $450,000 at last year's Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
The mare is out of Seresa's Spirit (Rahy), an unraced daughter of GI Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine (Unbridled's Song).
Unraced herself, Zetta Z sold in foal to Street Sense for $35,000 at the 2021 Keeneland November sale. Three Times a Charm was the name on the ticket that day, but according to Grovendale's Chance Timm, the mare had changed hands since that auction.
“She changed hands sometime last year,” Timm said, while declining to name the mare's owner.
Of the mare's presence in the sale, Timm said, “James [Keogh] had been in really close contact with the owner leading up to the race, so fair credit to him. I am grateful to be his partner and to be a part of it, but James did all the heavy lifting here and we are grateful to the owners for the opportunity.”
Timm added, “We were watching the Bob Lewis with a little bit different interest on Saturday, that's for sure. But it's great fun and we are privileged for the opportunity.”
Zetta Z became far-and-away the highest-priced horse to ever sell at the Fasig-Tipton Winter Mixed sale.
“I think it's hard to expect that kind of money at that sort of level for any kind of horse, but these are the types that can do that when it all lines up,” Timm said of the final price. “That's why we have horse sales, to have two people hook up and do what she did today. Any time they are at that level, it's hard to expect that. But she deserved to make that. That's the kind of mare she is.”
Wallace summed up, “She looks like…well, $2 million, instead of $1 million, but she's a lovely mare.”
Bell's The One Lights Up Fasig-Tipton
Bell's the One (Majesticperfection) (hip 476), the brightest star in Robert Lothenbach's decades in the sport, proved the most sought-after offering of the late owner's dispersal when selling for $1.3 million at Fasig-Tipton Tuesday. Bloodstock agent Catherine Hudson, bidding while on the phone from a seat in the pavilion, signed the ticket on the 8-year-old mare on behalf of an undisclosed client.
“We loved her,” Hudson said. “I bought her for a private client. He's an admirer of collector's items and we felt like she is one of them. She is a beautiful mare. We appreciate her and her racing and everything the Lothenbach family did for horse racing. We are sad the dispersal is happening, but we were very, very fortunate to be able to step up and buy her.”
The hard-knocking Bell's the One, purchased for $155,000 as a Fasig-Tipton July yearling in 2017, won 11 stakes races in the Lothenbach colors, including the 2020 GI Derby City Distaff S. and earned over $2 million during her racing career. She RNA'd for $2.6 million at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton November sale and was put in foal to Flightline. The mare aborted that foal in September.
Of potential 2024 mating plans, Hudson said, “We have had a lot of reports, nicking, research and haven't decided yet. We are just working on it now. We think Justify's book got closed. We are hoping they might reopen, but we will talking to a couple of the farms about it.”
Hudson, who confirmed the mare would stay in the U.S., said the seven-figure price range was within expectations.
“I thought I would get outbid by maybe the Japanese,” she admitted. “I had $1.2 million to $1.3 million, but I didn't think my client would go any more than $1 million.”
Hudson had the client on the phone during the bidding and, asked to describe the conversation, she said, “I didn't want to know what he was going to do–I didn't want to know too much. I had a hopeful feeling he might keep going, but I didn't think he would go over $1.2 million, so I was very happy when he said go ahead with it. I think he appreciates collector's items.”
She Can't Sing to Hill 'n' Dale
Graded-stakes winning broodmare prospect She Can't Sing (Bernardini) (hip 485) will be joining the band at the Sikura family's Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa after selling for $1.1 million during the Lothenbach dispersal at Fasig-Tipton Tuesday. The 7-year-old mare, bred and campaigned by the late Robert Lothenbach, won four stakes during her racing career, including the 2022 GIII Chilukki S. She is out of Distorted Music (Distorted Humor) and from the family of multiple Grade I winner Music Note.
“She is beautiful and obviously a very talented racehorse,” said Jes Sikura. “We are collecting a broodmare band at Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa to kind of improve on what we already have and create a new generation. [Hill 'n' Dale stallion] Curlin loves Bernardini. We thought this would be a great nick. Hopefully we will get a beautiful foal out of her.”
Of the seven-figure price tag, Sikura said, “We were willing to pay a high price for something with that quality. Bernardini/Distorted Humor mare, it doesn't get better than this. She was a great racehorse. And we really thought she would fit our program. She's exactly what we are looking for.”
While the 22-year-old Sikura signed the ticket on the mare, he admitted it was his father, John, who did the bidding in the back walking ring.
“I was told to step back,” Sikura said with a laugh. “I didn't want to make any mistakes.”
The younger Sikura signed for a Constitution short yearling at $300,000 on behalf of a pinhooking partnership during Monday's first session of the auction. He also signed for the broodmare Audrey's Time (Uncle Mo) (hip 474) at $525,000 in the name of Imaginary Partners earlier in Tuesday's session.
“I am probably UK's least favorite student right now–the least classes attended student right now,” he said. “I am working on bloodstock on the farm and trying to get my own little thing going and learn as much as I can about the business. I am getting involved, selling some seasons and shares, just working on our stallions and promoting the farm.”
Sikura admitted getting more involved in the racing industry became a more immediate concern once his hockey career had run its course.
“I always knew I wanted to be involved at some point,” he said. “I grew up as a hockey player–not a great one–that's why I came back to Kentucky at 19. And then once I realized I was not going to be a professional athlete by 17, I started to look a lot more into the horses and enjoying it more. And now I feel like I am starting to understand it a little bit and following in my dad's footsteps, as well as other great mentors that I've been lucky enough to be around.”
Logan Strikes for Into Mischief Colt
Darby Dan Sales Director Renee Logan, bidding on behalf of an undisclosed client, went to $650,000 to acquire a short yearling by Into Mischief (hip 494) Tuesday at Fasig-Tipton. From the Lothenbach dispersal and consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, the bay colt is out of Distorted Music (Distorted Humor) and is a half-brother to graded winner She Can't Sing (Bernardini). He came into the ring some 10 hips after his half-sister sold for $1.1 million and some 25 hips after his dam sold for $375,000.
“It's for an undisclosed buyer,” Logan said. “He's a longtime farm client who loves racing and loves to sell as well. So he might race or sell. We'll just see how things go.”
Robert Lothenbach purchased Distorted Music for $190,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. She won three of eight starts in the late owner's colors and She Can't Sing was her first foal to the races.
“I like the fact that he was very well-balanced and he had a beautiful walk,” Logan said of the short yearling's appeal. “He's very correct. He's a half-brother to a great filly who just brought a million, which vindicated our decision. That's why we went the extra mile.”
Logan added there was extra appeal in purchasing the youngster from a breed-to-race operation.
“He wasn't overly prepped,” she said. “What you saw is what he actually is. So that was another thing that I liked about him.”
Of the colt's final price tag, Logan added, “If you want a nice horse, you're going to have to pay for it.”