By Jessica Martini
LEXINGTON, KY – During a session dominated by offerings from the powerful Godolphin operation, the four-day Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale continued to churn out strong results as it entered its second half Wednesday.
Through three sessions, 721 horses have sold for $41,732,600. The average of $57,882 is up 5.31% from a year ago, while the median is up 8.00% to $27,000.
At this same point at the 2022 sale, 770 horses had grossed $42,320,400 for an average of $54,962 and a median of $25,000.
Mares from Godolphin occupied five of the day's six top spots, with Walmac Farm making the day's highest bid when acquiring Carella (Tapit) from Sheikh Mohammed's operation for $260,000. In all, 27 mares from Godolphin sold for $1,798,700 and an average of $66,619.
A colt by Vekoma was the day's highest-priced short yearling, selling to G1 Investments from the supplemental section of the catalogue. The youngster was consigned by Archie St. George's St. George Sales.
“I think the market overall is solid,” St. George said. “It's been a good January sale. Any quality stock sells well. It's the old saying, if you tick all the boxes, you do good.”
Hunter Valley Farm sold two of the session's eight six-figure offerings, with Juddmonte's 4-year-old Gilded Ruler (Into Mischief) selling for $130,000 to Shepherd Equine Advisors and a short yearling filly by Tiz the Law selling for $100,000 to Headley Bell's pinhooking partnership, Sycamore.
“I don't think there is too much wrong with the market today,” said Hunter Valley's Adrian Regan. “For what's on offer, I think they are selling pretty good. Anything with any little bit of upside or a weanling with any bit of scope and quality, they are selling really well.”
The Keeneland January sale concludes with a final session Thursday. Bidding begins at 10 a.m.
Godolphin Mares in Demand
As the Keeneland January sale moved into its second half, it was a group of 27 offerings from Godolphin that took center stage, occupying five of the session's top six five spots and accounting for five of its eight six-figure prices. Leading the way was Carella (Tapit) (hip 1140), who was purchased over the internet by Walmac Farm for $260,000. The 10-year-old mare is a daughter of Cara Rafaela and is a half-sister to Bernardini. She sold in foal to Kantharos. Also selling via an internet bid was Orchestrate (Tiznow) (hip 984), who sold to J.S. Company for $200,000.
“It was a fantastic sale for us,” said Godolphin's Director of Bloodstock Michael Banahan. “The response was exceptionally strong down at the barn yesterday. We ended up having as many people looking as we had in two days last year. So we were inundated with lookers. We thought the mares would sell well, but we were probably surprised how well they sold. There was a great appetite for our mares. There were a lot of nice, young mares in there that people want to have with great pedigrees. I understand why people want to get involved in mares that we are culling out of our program. People have done well with them before. They were all sold, they were all over their reserves and I think people will be very pleased with what they've got off us.”
Lynn Hancock acquired two Godolphin mares on behalf of her family's Stone Farm. She signed for the 4-year-old Omkara (Ghostzapper) (hip 980), in foal to Cairo Prince, for $160,000 and came back later to acquire the 4-year-old Brookwood Hills (More Than Ready) (hip 1127) for $52,000.
“Godolphin obviously has some really great families and they can't keep all of the fillies out of them,” Hancock said. “We thought they had some great physicals with some really good female families. It looked like a good opportunity to get in on some active families.”
Omkara is a daughter of stakes-winner Kareena (Medaglia d'Oro) and her half-sister Padma (Tapit) was second in the Cash Run S. at Gulfstream Park on New Year's Day. Her second dam is multiple graded-stakes winner India, a half-sister to the dam of To Honor and Serve and Angela Renee.
“It's a super active female family,” Hancock said of the mare. “There are so many daughters producing in that family. There are some good runners on the page and it's a great family. So we thought we would take a swing.”
Banahan admitted he had fielded some questions about why Godolphin would sell a half-sister to a recent stakes-placed runner.
“We own three more fillies out of the mare,” Banahan said. “You can't keep them all. We want to keep the quality as high as we can. So we are going to have ones that we have to offload.”
Of the popularity of the Godolphin mares at Keeneland Wednesday, Hancock said, “You can't hide a good horse from the market, no matter where they are placed or when they are selling. I think the people are keyed in and looking at those mares and some of them are selling very well.”
Godolphin has now dominated the third session of the Keeneland January sale for two years in a row. Last year, the operation sold three of the day's top four prices, including the $480,000 session topper.
“It's worked very well for us,” Banahan said of the day three placement in the January sale. “We had a group of them in November as well, but we feel we get them in here, everyone is at the sale, it's a four-day sale, everyone is going to be able to see them and we are not going to have to divide them up into two or three different books. We can group them together a lot nicer than we can in November. Maybe we are a bigger fish in a smaller pond in January. Our mares stand out here.”
The January consignment also gives students in Godolphin's Flying Start program the opportunity to participate in the auction.
“The Godolphin Flying Start group comes into town right around New Year's and they've helped us out in the last couple of years,” Banahan said. “They've enjoyed it. It's their only opportunity to work a sale. Not that we did it on purpose, but that was an offshoot of it. And they enjoyed it and we enjoyed having them helping us out as well.”
Vekoma Colt Leads Yearlings Wednesday
A colt by Vekoma was the top-priced short yearling of Wednesday's third session of the Keeneland January sale when selling for $180,000 over the internet to GI Investments. The chestnut colt is out of stakes winner and graded-placed Inconclusive (Include). Archie St. George purchased Inconclusive, with the colt in utero, for $75,000 at the 2021 Keeneland November sale and he co-bred the yearling with Lee Mauberret and Gary Joyner.
“He was a very nice colt, very straightforward,” St. George said. “We had him on the farm and he showed himself very well and he put on a good show in the back ring. We'd like to thank the buyers and everyone who was interested in him.”
The colt was originally slated to sell at the November sale.
“He was in November, but we scratched him just because I wanted to give him more time,” St. George said. “This was just the right spot for him.”
The colt became just the latest supplemented offering to the auction to be in demand this week.
“It's really nice to be able to supplement them,” St. George said. “Keeneland does a great job with promoting it. It's nice to have a horse in here. Any time you have more horses in front of buyers, it's a good opportunity.”
McKinzie Leads First-Crop Sires at Keeneland Book 1
Four-time Grade I winner McKinzie (Street Sense–Runway Model, by Petionville) was represented by four six-figure short yearlings this week in Lexington and was the leading first-crop sire during the two-session Book 1 section of the Keeneland January sale.
McKinzie won the 2018 GI Pennsylvania Derby and GI Malibu S., as well as the 2019 GI Whitney S. and the 2017 GI Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity. He was second in the 2019 GI Breeders' Cup Classic.
On the board in 14 of 18 starts for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman and trainer Bob Baffert, McKinzie earned $3,473,360 on the racetrack and retired to Gainesway where he stood his initial season in 2021 for $30,000.
During Book 1 at Keeneland this week, the 8-year-old stallion had seven yearlings sell for $910,000 for an average of $130,000.
“Obviously, it's redundant to say it was an awfully nice horse, but we thought it would hit the market well,” said Four Star Sales' Kerry Cauthen. “We were thinking in the $150,000 to $175,000 range, but when you bring up the really good ones, and two people obviously thought he was a really good one–you get rewarded.”
Cauthen continued, “I have seen quite a few McKinzies and quite like them as a whole. I think he's been fairly consisistent in producing a good-looking animal.”
Also during the January sale, South Carolina horseman Peter Pugh purchased a filly by the sire (hip 190) for $220,000 from the Hunter Valley Farm consignment.
While Pugh said he hadn't seen many of the McKinzie foals, he was impressed by the filly he plans to pinhook later in the year.
“She was very smooth,” Pugh said. “She was a very pretty filly who looked like she was going to frame out nicely. All the stuff you want.”
Mckinzie bred 214 mares in his first season and 180 in his second.
“I am really excited about what we are seeing in the market with McKinzie,” said Graves, who serves as Gainesway's general manager. “Before the sales started, I thought that McKinzie was really stamping his offspring and now he has left no question on that matter. They are all very leggy with streamlined shape and athleticism, which is my favorite type. They have sold at the highest level, to the best judges, and it's rewarding to see. I think he's going to be a huge presence at the yearling sales later this year.”