By Christie DeBernardis
LEXINGTON, KY–Keeneland kicked off its November Breeding Stock Sale Monday afternoon with the highly anticipated auctioning off of a 2.5% interest in unbeaten all-time great, GI Breeders' Cup Classic hero and new Lane's End stallion Flightline (Tapit). The show, partially conducted in the Metaverse, certainly did not disappoint.
The pavilion was lined wall-to-wall with industry participants squeezing in anywhere they could to witness the one-of-a-kind event. When the dust had settled after a very spirited round of bidding, Brookdale's Freddy Seitz saw off all challengers–which included the Coolmore partners as direct underbidders–to land the share for $4.6 million on behalf of an undisclosed farm client. The price paid imputes a valuation for the 'TDN Rising Star' of $184 million.
“They have been good clients of ours for a few years now,” Seitz said to the throng of media waiting for him outside the pavilion. “He is very excited about this horse and wanted to make a huge splash. He has dealt with some good horses in the past, but nothing like this. I'm not sure any of us have dealt with a horse like this. He wanted to get involved a little more in the business.”
While Seitz would not name the client, he did say that the client already has a small broodmare band.
“I think he is going to have a nicer broodmare band now,” Seitz said. “He has some nice mares, but his band isn't very big, about six or eight mares. He is going to be shopping now from what I understand.”
Being a first-of-its-kind sale, the question the entire industry has been asking is, how much the share could sell for? Seitz said he did not expect the final price of $4.6 million.
“I did not expect it to go that high,” the horseman said. “You can only imagine what people are going to do when they are really after something like that. It was very exciting. I wish we could have gotten him a little better deal, but when you are dealing with top quality, you have to pay.”
As for the fact the fractional interest price indicates a total valuation of $184 million, Seitz said, “It is probably the highest ever. With a special horse like that, all you can do is get involved and hope for the best. There has never been a horse that has done what he has done, probably since Secretariat. You just have to pay up and get involved in stuff like this is what he's thinking.”
Lane's End Bill Farish was overcome with emotion during the post-sale interview.
“I am in awe of that,” he said. “It was very exciting. It was an amazing tribute to Flightline. He is an incredible horse.”
Despite what Farish called “a tremendous amount of interest,” he also was unsure what to expect Monday.
“It is just so hard to know where something like that will go,” Farish said. “It is the first time anything like that has ever been done on a horse of that magnitude.”
He continued, “We don't really have a valuation. It is a unique situation because the syndicate is already in place. The syndicate was the racing ownership group. Not that it would be hard with Flightline, but luckily I don't have to go out and determine shares value if I had to sell 40 shares. We had no clue where this would go for that reason.”
Keeneland's Shannon Arvin indicated there were over 20 registered bidders for this event, which required a separate registration process from the traditional Keeneland sales registration
“We had to make sure the people who purchased were pre-approved, accredited purchasers and had the opportunity to review the syndicate agreement and documentation and were comfortable with the stallion deal,” Arvin said. “It was a Keeneland/Lane's End joint effort.”
Farish, who indicated this would not effect Flightline's yet-to-be-determined stud fee, added, “This is a share in the horse. Now that he is retired, it can be called a share in the horse. It had to be called a fraction until he was actually retired. It is 1/40 of everything he does from now on.”
Arvin compared this unique auction to the introduction of the digital sales market.
“I think it is just like what we found with the digital market, you have to have the right product for it to be successful,” said the Keeneland President and CEO. “The stars completely aligned for Flightline. We couldn't have hoped for a better superstar to sell an interest in than Flightline.”
She added, “When Bill and I talked about this for the first time, we were thrilled with the opportunity. The stars all had to align for it to work out, but we appreciate Lane's End for giving us the chance.”
Flightline capped his career off at Keeneland some 36 hours prior to the auction with a jaw-dropping victory in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic.
“His race in the Breeders' Cup was even better than you hoped it could be,” said Arvin. “It was unbelievable. We were all watching in awe, like I think the world was. Every sport likes to have a hero and Flightline is definitely our hero right now.”