Keeneland Book 2 Strong to the Finish With Pair of $1M Yearlings

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Thursday's session topper, a colt by Quality Road | Keeneland

by Jessica Martini & Christie DeBernardis

LEXINGTON, KY – The Keeneland September Yearling Sale continued to churn out strong results straight through to the conclusion of its Book 2 section Thursday night in Lexington with an additional two yearlings selling for seven figures, led by a $1.7-million son of Quality Road, bringing the four-day total for the auction to 30 seven-figure yearlings. Fifteen reached that mark last year.

“It was an incredible week,” said Keeneland's Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy.

Over the two Book 2 sessions, Keeneland sold 449 horses in the ring for a gross of $123,330,000. The book average was $274,677–up 6% from the 2021 Book 2 average and the median of $225,000 was up 12.5% from a year ago.

The Book 2 section produced the auction's highest-priced yearling in 2021 when a colt by City of Light sold for $1.7 million. The yearling was one of four million-dollar yearlings in the section. Eight reached that mark in the 2022 Book 2 section.

“This session last year was extremely strong and was up quite a bit from the previous year,” Lacy said at the close of business Thursday. “So, the fact that we are just ticked up slightly over last year is really encouraging. I think it is holding steady. The clearance rate is ticked up a little bit as well, but again, it is probably a little higher than we'd like. We are up to 30 million-dollar plus yearlings over the four days and that is, in any metrics, really strong. That is a lot of different sellers, different breeders, large to small. I think the competitiveness among the buyers was really energetic. We were pleased overall. It is never perfect and we are trying to analyze carefully how it can be better going forward.”

Mike Repole, part of last year's leading buyer partnership with Vinnie Viola's St. Elias Stable, remained front and center in the pavilion through the first week of the auction. Repole and Viola were the leading buyers through four sessions of the 12-day sale with 30 yearlings purchased for $12.54 million. In his own name, Repole is the fourth-leading buyer with 23 head purchased for $6.765 million. And in total, Repole, with various partners and by himself, purchased 60 yearlings for a total of $23.49 million.

“Having Mike Repole and his team here in person has really given the sale a lift,” said Keeneland's Director of Sales Operations Cormac Breathnach. “Todd Pletcher has been here and I think they have spent 90% of their time in their seats in the pavilion and buying so much quality. With Mick Wallace and Rory Babich working so hard on behalf of Vinnie Viola as well, both in partnership and individually, it is creating the energy around the sale we really strive for.”

The SF/Starlight/Madaket partnership was the second leading buyer through four sessions, with 15 yearlings purchased for $10.58 million. Don Adam's Courtlandt was the third-leading buyer with 11 purchased for $8.235 million.

Through four sessions, 898 yearlings have grossed $236,990,000. The average is up 9.59% to $354,245 and the median is up 10% to $275,000. The buy-back rate is 25.50%. It was 30.18% at this point a year ago.

The strength of the market this week at Keeneland is no surprise to Chris Baker of Three Chimneys Farm, which sold Thursday's second million-dollar yearling, a colt by Gun Runner, for $1.2 million.

“I'm not surprised because of the way [Fasig-Tipton] Saratoga was and the way things have been recently,” Baker said. “I anticipated it being very strong. There are a lot of good things happening. Even though racing is smaller and a little more concentrated, there are a handful of tracks that you can run a maiden for $100,000 and maybe win a race and pay your training bills for a year. There are just so many positives going on in racing in general and in Kentucky in particular. It's an exciting time and the principals are excited and optimistic.”

The Keeneland September sale will have an off-day Friday and the action will resume with the first of two Book 3 sessions Saturday with bidding beginning at 10 a.m. The auction continues through Sept. 24.

Lanni Wins Out On Quality Road Colt

A colt by Quality Road (Hip 886) shook things up about halfway through Thursday's session, igniting a spirited bidding war that came down to Mike Repole, bidding from the left side of the pavilion besides trainer Todd Pletcher, and Donato Lanni, who was bidding over the phone. Repole was in up until $1.65 million, but gave an emphatic no after Lanni upped his bid to $1.7 million and the hammer fell. Lanni did not disclose his client when signing the ticket, but Amr Zedan's Zedan Racing Stable announced on Twitter that the session topper had been purchased on Zedan's behalf.

“Bob [Baffert] Loved him,” Lanni said. “We all loved him. Everybody loved him it looks like. Everybody was waiting for him. All of the usual suspects were visible.”

Lanni continued, “He is a beautiful horse. He is just super athletic, a really laid back, good-looking Quality Road. He is made really well. He is the right kind.”

Consigned by Nardelli Sales, Hip 886 was bred by Kim and Rodney Nardelli, William Werner and W.S. Farish. Werner purchased the colt's dam Act Now (Street Sense) for $150,000 at the 2020 KEEJAN sale carrying a foal by Kitten's Joy. The resulting foal brought just $70,000 last year. Hip 886 hails from the femail family of MGSW & MGISP Fed Biz and GISW Joking.

“He's a lovely horse we bred and raised,” said Rodney Nardelli. “He's got everything. He's beautiful, he's correct, he vets. He's been nice all his life. We're appreciative of Keeneland's format and the support of the buyers.”

Quality Road has had a sensational September Sale so far. He is responsible for the current $2.5-million topper and seven of his foals have brought seven figures through the first four days. The Lane's End stalwart has had 29 yearlings sell so far for a total of $18.75 million and average of $646,552. —@CDeBernardisTDN

Late Fireworks for Gun Runner Colt

A colt by Gun Runner (hip 1086) set off late fireworks as the fourth session of the Keeneland September sale began to wind down Thursday night, ultimately selling for $1.2 million to bloodstock agent Mike Ryan. The yearling is out of Grade I winner Malibu Prayer (Malibu Moon) and was consigned by Four Star Sales, as agent for her breeder, Three Chimneys Farm.

“Obviously, he's a Gun Runner,” Ryan, who did his bidding out back alongside trainer Chad Brown, said of the yearling's appeal. “He reminded me quite a bit of Early Voting. He's from one of Ned Evans's best pedigrees. He was a big, impressive, imposing horse that moved like a cheetah. I said to Chad, 'Can you imagine Flavien Prat or Irad Ortiz on his back right now?' He was a magnificent horse with a lot of class and quality. He's bred to get 1 1/8 miles, 1 1/4 miles.”

Early Voting (Gun Runner), a $200,000 Keeneland September yearling, won this year's GI Preakness S. for Klaravich Stables and Brown.

“He's been bought for a partnership–he'll got to Chad and hopefully we can win a Preakness with him,” Ryan said of the yearling.

Three Chimneys Farm's Chris Baker said the million-dollar sale exceeded expectations.

“It was outstanding,” Baker said of the result. “Gun Runner will do that for you. And the female family didn't hurt any either.”

Baker, who served as racing manager to the late Ned Evans, is plenty familiar with the yearling's female family.

Malibu Prayer sold for $2 million out of the Evans dispersal at the 2011 Keeneland November sale, a year after she had won the GI Ruffian Invitational S. The mare is a daughter of Grand Prayer (Grand Slam).

“I'm always partial to ones we bred and raised,” Baker said. “That's a family I've known generations back to when I was in Virginia. It's always hard to part with them. But the colt will have a great opportunity and we are excited to see what he does. We were well paid for our efforts.”

Three Chimneys stallion Gun Runner, who continues to produce on the racetrack, has been represented by five seven-figure yearlings during the first four days of the Keeneland September sale.

“I don't remember a stallion like him,” Baker said. “I am a little close to the fire, so it's easy for me to be biased. But it's just remarkable what his offspring are doing on the racetrack and what he's doing at the sale with a wide variety of mares, physically and on pedigree. He just suits so many. It's great. We are just very fortunate to be a part of it.”

Asked what he is seeing in the young stallion's offspring, Baker said, “Mentally it's the train ability and willingness. And physically, it's athleticism and movement and just how they carry themselves. To get the two of those together like he had, and he conveys to so much of his offspring, is why we are getting the exceptional results we are.” @JessMartiniTDN

Gun Runner Filly Continues Big Week for Stoneway

Jim Stone's Stoneway Farm, which had its first million-dollar sale during the first session of the Keeneland September sale, just missed having a second seven-figure yearling when a filly by Gun Runner (hip 833) sold for $925,000 Thursday in Lexington. Bloodstock agent David Ingordo, standing alongside CRK Stables' Lee Searing, made the winning bid on the filly who was consigned by Paramount Sales.

“I am pretty dang excited,” Stone's racing manager and partner Terri Burch said after watching the filly sell Thursday. “I am thrilled and over the moon.”

Hip 833 is a chestnut filly out of Stonetastic (Mizzen Mast), a mare purchased by the Stoneway team for $77,000 as a Keeneland September yearling in 2012 who went on to win the 2014 GII Prioress S. and 2016 GII Inside Information S.

“We were expecting about what she brought,” Burch said of the filly. “She was very popular here. We loved her and she looked so much like Gun Runner with the pretty head of Stonetastic.”

During Monday's first session of the Keeneland sale, Stoneway sold a filly by Into Mischief for $1.25 million (hip 52) to Frank Fletcher. The yearling is out of Song of Spring (Spring at Last), who was purchased by Stoneway for $80,000 as a yearling at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton October sale. She won the 2018 GIII Allaire du Pont Distaff S.

“She looks so much like Malathaat,” Burch said of the yearling who is from the family of the GI Kentucky Oaks winner's dam Dreaming of Julia (A.P. Indy). “I had the pleasure to see Malathaat over at Churchill. And that family sells really well. And again that was one that we would have raced, but again too expensive for our farm to leave that money on the table.”

“It is bittersweet,” Burch admitted of the decision to sell the prized fillies. “We love them. I am a horseperson and I see them born and I see them develop, but I also know that the farm has to have an income so that I can breed again to Into Mischief and Gun Runner. If I don't sell, then we are not going to breed up there.”

Stoneway has about 20 broodmares and the group includes Stonetastic's unraced first foal Stonetonic (Candy Ride {Arg}).

“We actually have another daughter of Stonetastic who wasn't able to race and she is in the November sale and she looks dead on like Stonetastic,” Burch said. “She is a Candy Ride and is just gorgeous.”

Both Stoneway fillies were out of mares who were acquired inexpensively before going on to graded stakes-winning careers. Now the challenge for the team is to reinvest in fillies who will carry on that tradition.

“$77,000 and $80,000, you can't do better than that,” Burch said of the two purchases.

Burch continued, “This is our best crop of babies from top to bottom that we have ever raised. We had a good July sale with the three horses that we sold there, as well.”

Later in Thursday's session, Stoneway sold a Vino Rosso half-sister to multiple graded winner Ahh Chocolate (Candy Ride {Arg}) (hip 891) for $235,000 and a Liam's Map half-brother to Instagrand (hip 902) for $200,000. @JessMartiniTDN

 

SF/Starlight/Madaket Still Going Strong

The powerhouse colt-buying partnership lead by SF, Starlight and Madaket Stables did not slow during Thursday's session, buying a $700,000 Uncle Mo colt (Hip 832) early in the day. He was consigned by Taylor Made Sales.

Uncle Mo is a proven stallion,” said SF's Tom Ryan. “The colt is a beautiful horse out of a good racemare with a deep family. Donato [Lanni] and Bob [Baffert] really love this horse. We are happy to land him. He will make his way to Eddie Woods for the winter and hopefully find his way to California next spring.”

Breeder PTK purchased Hip 832's dam Still There (Union Rags) for $160,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale in 2015. She went on to win a stake at Laurel and finish second in Saratoga's GI Ballerina S. This is her first foal.

The SF, Starlight and Madaket-led group purchased X more colts Thursday, adding to the 14 they acquired during the first three sessions. —@CDeBernardisTDN

 

West Signs for New Partnership

Bloodstock agent Jacob West left his seat in the pavilion next to owner Mike Repole to head out back where he went to $600,000 to acquire a colt by Uncle Mo (hip 828) for $600,000 from the St George Sales consignment. The yearling, who is out of stakes-placed Spring Eclipse (Unbridled's Song) and is a half-brother to stakes winner Bet She Wins (First Samurai), was purchased for new clients.

“He's for a new partnership, some new guys who are getting into the business,” West said. “And like everyone else in this game, they want to win the Kentucky Derby. We just figured a son of Uncle Mo, with his physique and pedigree, he might be a horse for the future. We will keep our fingers crossed.”

While declining to name the new clients, West said, “There are two guys from the East Coast and two guys from the West Coast, so it's four guys all together. We've been trying to spot some horses and it's been tough. They've actually gotten outbid on three or four other horses earlier in Book 1 and one earlier today. I think they are going to be guys that are going to stick around for a long time.”

West said the colt could be trained by Todd Pletcher on the East Coast or Michael McCarthy if he heads west. @JessMartiniTDN

Rigney Secures Pair of Pricey Fillies

Richard Rigney's Rigney Racing came to Keeneland looking for fillies that would one day join their broodmare band. With trainer Phil Bauer signing the tickets, the operation acquired a pair of pricey fillies during Book 2, going to $925,000 for a Twirling Candy filly (Hip 621) Wednesday and taking home a daughter of the late Arrogate Thursday (Hip 805) for $590,000.

Bred and consigned by Peter O'Callaghan's Woods Edge Farm, Hip 621 is out of the Distorted Humor mare Double Sharp, who is a daughter of MGSW & MGISP Bsharpsonata (Pulpit).

“She was a standout for us,” said Bauer. “We stretched further than we anticipated, but we are thrilled we got her. Hopefully, we can get some black-type. Everything is geared towards the long term with the broodmare program. We will race them first and hopefully turn out some blue hen mares.”

Hip 805 was bred and consigned by the Bell family's Mill Ridge Farm. They acquired her dam Scarlet Love (Not For Love), who hails from an accomplished Stonestreet family, for $130,000 in foal to Indian Charlie at the 2011 Keeneland November Sale. Already the dam of SP Cursor (Quality Road), Scarlet Love is a half-sister to Grade I winners Tara's Tango (Unbridled's Song) and Visionaire (Grand Slam), as well as GSW & GISP Scarlet Strike (Smart Strike) and GSW Madison's Luna (Tapit).

“She's got all the right parts,” said Bauer. “She has a nice physical. We know the family. We've had two out of the second dam, so we are really big fans. There is enough page there that she can be a nice broodmare for us and, hopefully, a nice racehorse before. She looks early. Hopefully, she will be a good one.”

“That was well beyond our hopes and dreams,” said Price Bell Jr., General Manager of Mill Ridge Farm “She was a very special filly and was a standout on the day.  She is lovely. Some very good judges were all around her. The dam has one ovary. We bought her from our friends at Airdrie Stud and she has been really good to us. The buyers Richard Rigney and Phil Bauer bought a filly from us several years ago named Mariah's Princess that turned out well. They are good people and take good care of their horses. When Arrogate went to $50,000 we felt like it was good value and the mare deserved a shot.”

Champion Arrogate passed away in 2021 after producing only three crops. A filly from his first crop, Secret Oath, took the GI Kentucky Oaks this year and he had a phenomenal weekend at Del Mar with And Tell Me Nolies winning the GI Del Mar Debutante Saturday and 'TDN Rising Star' Cave Rock capturing the GI Del Mar Futurity Sunday.

“It is a shame we lost him,” Bauer said. We have a nice 3-year-old filly by him, so we are a fan of the stallion.”

Arrogate had 22 yearlings sell during the first two books for a gross of $6.17 million and average of $280,455.

@CDeBernardisTDN

 

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