by Jessica Martini & Christie DeBernardis
The Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale returned from its one-year hiatus with plenty of fireworks at the top of the market as a diverse buying bench competed with enthusiasm for the upper-end offerings in the track's paddock Wednesday afternoon. A colt by Nyquist, who had breezed the bullet furlong in :9 4/5 during Monday's under-tack preview, brought the boutique auction's top price when selling for $2.6 million to Coolmore. The Irish operation returned to secure a colt by Nyquist's sire Uncle Mo for $1.3 million. Both colts were consigned by Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables. A son of Gun Runner purchased by Amr Zedan rounded out the trio of seven-figure transactions when selling for $1.7 million from the consignment of Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds. Nyquist and Uncle Mo combined represented five of the auction's top 10 prices.
“It was a good start to the 2021 2-year-old sale season for us,” Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr. said at the close of business Wednesday. “We are thrilled to be back at Gulfstream Park. I think it was a typical 2-year-old sale, great demand and great interest at the top of the marketplace for what are perceived to be the quality offerings. The most encouraging thing in that regard was the diversity of buyers across the board. There were lots of bidders willing to spend plenty of money.”
A total of 67 horses sold at the Gulfstream sale Wednesday for an aggregate of $25,360,000. The average was $378,507 and the median was $300,000. In 2019, 59 head grossed $29,115,000 for an average of $493,475 and a median of $375,000.
“Overall, I think it was a healthy marketplace,” Browning said. “People want quality horses and I think it bodes well for the rest of the 2-year-old sales and gives us encouragement for the yearling sales starting this summer.”
But the margin between perceived quality and the lower-end offerings was razor thin. Of the 186 juveniles catalogued, 105 went through the ring and 38 of those failed to sell.
“The 2-year-old game is still a game of performance and vetting,” Browning said. “There are even more hoops to jump through than there used to be. You have to breeze well in a good time, gallop out well, make a good video and the veterinary scrutiny increases every year.”
Coolmore has been a major presence on the Gulfstream buying bench for the last several auctions and Wednesday was the second sale in a row the operation purchased the auction's topper. But after the tickets were signed, Coolmore's Michael Tabor issued a warning salvo aimed at The Jockey Club's impending cap on number of mares bred to stallions born after 2020.
“The Jockey Club stallion cap will reduce the value of these horses from next year, so it's hard to imagine prices like this being repeated unless the horse is to go abroad,” Tabor said.
A number of pinhookers recorded impressive scores during the auction. Wavertree's $2.6-million Nyquist colt had been purchased for $160,000 as a yearling and the consignment's $1.3-million Uncle Mo had been purchased for $335,000. Dean DeRenzo and Randy Hartley had purchased the $1.7-million Gun Runner for $140,000 last fall.
“It's so strong for certain horses, but overall it's very, very thin,” said Becky Thomas, who consigned a filly by Uncle Mo on behalf of Cody Autrey who went from $380,000 yearling to $825,000 juvenile. “But there were fireworks. I think it was great for our whole horse economy. Hoby [Kight]'s horse ($650,000 Frosted) was a home run, Randy and Dean's horse was just a massive home run, Eddie [Woods], Ciaran, everybody had some really good home runs. We had a solid sale. Unfortunately, for not every horse, but we are grateful to be out and moving ahead.”
Bloodstock agent Jacob West saw familiar trends in the sales results.
“Good horses are selling,” West said. “The ones that miss the mark aren't. Unfortunately that's just the reality of our business. We are all looking for the same thing. And when you offer it up in the market, if you have what everybody wants, you get overpaid. And if you miss the mark even by a little bit, the buying bench is pretty harsh on you. But quality sells. And what's deemed as not quality doesn't.”
Nyquist Colt to Coolmore
A colt by Nyquist (hip 28) who lit up the racetrack with a bullet furlong work in :9 4/5 during Monday's under-tack also turned heads in the sales ring at Gulfstream Wednesday when selling for $2.6 million to Coolmore. The youngster was consigned by Wavertree Stables.
Bloodstock agent Jamie McCalmont signed the ticket for the youngster, who will be trained by Bob Baffert.
“He is by Nyquist who looks like one of the best young stallions around right now,” McCalmont said. “He breezed in :9 4/5, very few horses went :10 flat, let alone :9 4/5. He did a good gallop out, he came out of the work good. He trained well in the week before. He's a very nice horse.”
Michael Tabor, who had been leading the Coolmore team around the sales barns Tuesday, said he was happy with the purchase, but he sounded a warning note for future sales.
“I was just saying to the boys that The Jockey Club stallion cap really reduces the value of these horses,” Tabor said. “Next year, it is hard to imagine that these horses will be as high. Unless these horses go abroad.”
Coolmore is one of three farms involved in a lawsuit against The Jockey Club over the mare cap.
Later in the sale, bloodstock agent Jacob West signed the ticket on an Uncle Mo colt on behalf of Coolmore for $1.3 million. West echoed Tabor's sentiments on the cap, which calls for stallions born in 2020 and later to cover no more than 140 mares.
“There is a significant price change coming through with these colts right now,” West said. “In our belief, this is one of the last times we will see something like this. The mare cap might limit what people are willing to spend. You are seeing the result of that now with what the Coolmore group is doing with these colts that are coming through the ring. You better jump on them now because at the end of the day, they are worried about the regulation coming down and affecting the price of the colts if this mare cap gets pushed through.”
Coolmore has been a major buying presence at the Gulfstream sale. In 2019, the operation purchased the $3.65-million sale topper and four of the auction's six seven-figure juveniles.
Nyquist Colt a Score for Reddam, Dunne
The $2.6-million son of Nyquist (hip 28) was bred by G. Watts Humphrey, Jr. and is out of Spinning Wheel (Smart Strike), a half-sister to multiple Grade I placed Ride on Curlin (Curlin). The juvenile's third dam is Grade I winner Victory Ride (Seeking the Gold).
Wavertree's Ciaran Dunne purchased the bay colt for $160,000 on behalf of the Red Wings pinhooking partnership, led by Paul Reddam, who campaigned the colt's GI Kentucky Derby-winning sire.
“He is part of a pinhooking package that we do with Paul Reddam and obviously Paul has an attachment to Nyquist,” Dunne said. “So any Nyquist is an easy sell for us. He's a beautiful horse. I don't have to say that. He said that for himself in the ring. He comes from a breeder, Watts Humphrey, those families are generational and at the end of the day, those families come through. When you buy a horse off Watts, you feel a little better about it. Between those two connections, he was an easy horse.”
Asked how the colt had progressed over the winter, Dunne said, “I don't know if he's any different than he was as a yearling. He was a beautiful horse, he can just do it on the racetrack now and that's what it all comes down to at the end of the day. He showed up when it mattered and showed up like a champion all week.”
Dunne admitted Tuesday morning he thought he might have the sale topper, but the colt's final price Wednesday was still a surprise.
“We never had a horse in all the years we've been selling that has been vetted so many times,” he said. “I'm not sure there was a guy on the sales grounds that didn't vet him. We started to get excited yesterday, thinking, 'Wow, he could bring a million,' and then you think, 'Could he possibly bring a million and a half?' Two million is a pipe dream and then to get $2.6 million. It's a dream.”
The Red Wings partnership scored another pinhooking coup when selling a filly by American Freedom for $550,000. The chestnut had been purchased for $160,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Showcase. @JessMartiniTDN
Gun Runner Colt Sparks Late Fireworks
Just three hips before the conclusion of the sale, a colt from the first crop of Horse of the Year Gun Runner sparked a furious round of bidding in the Gulfstream paddock. When the dust settled it was bloodstock agent Gary Young left holding the $1.7-million ticket on behalf of Zedan Racing.
“We liked a few colts in this sale,” said Young, who did his bidding standing alongside Zedan principal Amr Zedan and trainer Bob Baffert. “We didn't get the [sale-topping] Nyquist. We liked a Classic Empire in the middle too, but we knew this horse would take a lot of money, so we just kind of waited for this horse. I don't know who we were bidding against, but they jogged us pretty good. You could tell it was mano y mano there for quite a while. We liked this horse a lot. I think he looks a lot like Gun Runner and I loved his breeze. See me in six months and I will let you know if we did good or not.”
“He is going to the guy with the white hair. I hear he has quite a future in the game,” Young joked, while nodding in Baffert's direction.
As for the price, Young said, “[Zedan] asked me before and I said $1 million to 1.5-million and if someone likes him as much as I do, maybe a tick or two more. So that is about what we thought.”
Young and Zedan purchased the topper at last year's $1.35-million OBS April topper Princess Noor (Not This Time), who opened her account with a trio of victories for Baffert, topped by the GI Del Mar Debutante S.
Consignors Randy Hartley and Dean de Renzo purchased the strapping chestnut colt for $140,000 at the Fasig-Tipton October Sale and he breezed in :10 1/5 Monday. Bred by Bruce Ryan, Hip 181 is out of MSW Needmore Flattery (Flatter).
“I am ecstatic, but I am more ecstatic that Bob Baffert gets to train him,” de Renzo said. “Now the horse will really get a chance to shine when he moves on to his next level. He just graduated high school and now he is off to college with the professor. That makes us really happy. Now he is really going to get the shot he deserves. We knew he was going to do really well because he has done everything really well his whole life.” —@CDeBernardisTDN
Coolmore Strikes Again for Uncle Mo Colt
The Coolmore team didn't waste any time getting back into the fray at Gulfstream Wednesday, going to $1.3 million to acquire a colt by its stallion Uncle Mo (hip 67). It was the operation's second seven-figure purchase and the second from Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables. Out of Afleet Maggi (Afleet Alex), the dark bay colt is a full-brother to Grade I winner Dream Tree. He worked a furlong in :10 flat during Monday's under-tack preview.
Leaving bloodstock agent Jacob West to sign the ticket on the colt, Coolmore's Michael Tabor confirmed the juvenile will be trained by Todd Pletcher.
“I have had horses with Todd Pletcher ever since I can remember,” Tabor said. “When I had the Derby winner [Thunder Gulch] in 1995, he was working for Wayne Lukas. So we go back a long way.”
Earlier in the sale, Coolmore had paid $2.6 million for a colt by Uncle Mo's Kentucky Derby-winning son Nyquist.
“We are very happy to have these two animals,” Tabor said.
Wavertree sold Dream Tree for $750,000 to the bid of bloodstock agent Kerri Radcliffe at the Gulfstream sale in 2017. The filly went on to win that year's GI Starlet S. and the following season's GII Prioress S. for Phoenix Thoroughbreds.
Radcliffe was underbidder on Dream Tree's full-brother Wednesday. The agent, who purchased last year's GI Arkansas Derby winner Nadal (Blame) at the 2019 Gulfstream sale, was bidding Wednesday on behalf of Goncalo Torrealba and George Bolton.
“We were hoping to get another Nadal, but I hope he's another Nadal for somebody else,” Radcliffe said. “He had a fantastic personality. He was so laid back. He was a gorgeous horse. I'm really gutted we didn't get him. But I hope he's very lucky for whoever bought him. ”
For Dunne, it was a second seven-figure juvenile and a second pinhooking score. The Irishman purchased the Uncle Mo colt for $335,000 at last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
“He's a special little horse,” Dunne said of the colt following Monday's work. “He was a beautiful yearling. I couldn't believe they let us buy him.” @JessMartiniTDN
Heavy Hitters Team up for Nyquist Colt
Hip 28, a colt from the second crop of Nyquist, lit up the Gulfstream paddock when hammering for a sale-topping $2.6 million. The very next horse through the ring was another son of Nyquist, who made it a very exciting few minutes for the Darley sire when summoning $900,000 from Spendthrift Farm and West Point Thoroughbreds. Hip 29 was consigned by Eddie Woods as part of the complete dispersal of the Estate of Paul Pompa, Jr.
“He was one of our top picks of the sale,” said Spendthrift's Ned Toffey, who signed the winning ticket. “He is a great looking horse and Nyquist is doing great things. He breezed well and looks very sound. He jumped through all the hoops for us. We are partnering with West Point Thoroughbreds on him and are happy to partner with them. It looks like he will go to Todd [Pletcher].”
Bred by International Equities Holdings, Hip 29 was purchased by bloodstock agent Steve Young, on Pompa's behalf, for $400,000 at Keeneland September. Young also purchased his dam Spirit of the Dawn–a half to GSW Javerre (Outflanker)–for $500,000 as a juvenile at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale and she made two starts for Pletcher and International Equities Holding's racing arm Sumaya US. Hip 29 is the second foal out of Spirit of the Dawn and her first foal, a now 3-year-old colt named Askin for a Baskin (Distorted Humor), brought $500,000 at KEESEP from Travis Durr, who was representing Bill Rucker and JRE Racing.
“He is a nice horse,” Woods said. “Steve Young bought him [as a yearling]. He is very straight forward and has done everything right. He worked good [in :10 2/5], not fantastic, but he is a big, two-turn horse. It is just a shame to be selling him. He is going to a good spot, so we will wish him the best.”
Pompa, a longtime owner and breeder, passed away suddenly Oct. 10. Since then, his top quality racing and breeding stock has been dispersed through various sales with the majority going through the Keeneland January Sale.
“He was a great fella, a great client. I have worked for him for a long time. It was just a shock [when he passed].” —@CDeBernardisTDN
Uncle Mo Filly to Lows
Shortly after signing for an Uncle Mo colt on behalf of Coolmore, bloodstock agent Jacob West signed for a filly by the sire for $825,000 on behalf of Robert and Lawana Low. Consigned by Becky Thomas's Sequel Bloodstock, hip 169 is out of Michelle d'Oro (BernardinI) and is a half-sister to last year's Runhappy Juvenile S. winner Pico d'Oro (Curlin). She worked a furlong in :10 flat during Monday's under-tack preview.
“She's an Uncle Mo filly and he can do no wrong,” West said of the juvenile's appeal. “She's out of a Bernardini mare who is absolutely killing it as a broodmare sire. I thought she had the best breeze of any filly down here. We love to buy them when you can see them get across the dirt and gallop out on the dirt. She vetted good and we got stuck in behind her and wanted to buy her.”
The filly was bred by Southern Equine Stables and was purchased by Autrey Bloodstock for $380,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton showcase.
“Southern Equine sold her to Cody Autrey and he put together a pinhooking group and I was blessed enough to have her to sell,” Thomas said. “He did all the preliminary work and I just finished her off.”
Of the filly, Thomas said, “She was a big, tall, leggy, two-turn looking filly that walked like a panther and moved like one. And was just so fast with no effort. I think she is a rockstar.”
Hip 169, like Coolmore's $1.3-million Uncle Mo colt, will be trained by Todd Pletcher.
“We are very fortunate to get them,” Pletcher said of the two juveniles. “They are typcial of the Uncle Mos. He stamps his babies and I thought both of these have that look that he puts into so many of them. They are very good movers, good walkers, athletic and with good breezes. So we're excited.” @JessMartiniTDN
Coolmore Strikes Again for Practical Joke Filly
The Coolmore team was very active at Gulfstream Wednesday, buying two of the day's top three colts as well as the auction's highest-priced filly, Hip 117, an $800,000 daughter of the operation's freshman sire Practical Joke. Bloodstock agents Jamie McCalmont and Ben McElroy represented the Coolmore contingent on this purchase.
“She was very fast, she had a great breeze, we liked her conformation… what more could you want,” Coolmore's Michael Tabor said.
Bred by Amy Rabanal, Constance Wickes and Highclere. Hip 117 is out of the Speightstown mare Goforitmrsmiller. North London Bloodstock purchased the dark bay for $150,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Select Yearlings Sale in September.
“She's been extremely popular,” said Steve Venosa, who consigned and prepared the :10 flat breezer under his SGV Thoroughbreds. “She's trained well down here and was well received at the barn. She's been nothing but class the whole time she has been here. We are excited she is going to a good home and I am sure we will hear good things about her down the road.”
Venosa added, “This is the top 2-year-old sale in the world. When you come down here, you better a bring a horse who is going to be able to perform on this surface. This filly was able to do that. We are very blessed that we sold her like that. We are very happy.”
North London Bloodstock, a longtime pinhooking partnership of Venosa clients, had a strong sale Wednesday, hitting two more home runs after Hip 117. Hip 141, a Quality Road colt purchased for $190,000 at KEESEP, brought $600,000 from Yugi Hasegawa. A few hips later, a son of Nyquist (Hip 146) the group bought for $200,000 at FTKSEL, summoned $625,000 from R.A. Hill Stable. —@CDeBernardisTDN