Keeneland January Strong and Steady to the Finish

Ancient Peace | Keeneland photo


LEXINGTON, KY – In the end, not even Mother Nature could slow down the steady progress of the Keeneland January Horses of Racing Age Sale, which concluded Thursday in Lexington on par with its 2022 renewal despite a short delay to the start of the final session due to tornado warnings in the area.

“We've got to be very happy with the way the sale turned out,” said Keeneland's Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy. “It's been very busy in the barns.  A lot of sellers have been very pleased with how the hores have been received. I think everyone is coming out of this week feeling very positive. We feel like it's giving everyone a lot of confidence as we are heading into the breeding season. The demand for quality young mares and proven mares is as strong as ever.”

At the close of business Thursday, 962 horses had sold for $45,408,300. The average was $47,202–up 3.18% from a year ago, while the median was $19,000, down 5% from the record-equaling 2022 figure of $20,000.

“Last year was a record sale,” said Lacy. “So when you are on par with a record sale, it's incredibly healthy. I think that plateauing of certain parts of the market is absolutely very encouraging.”

Lacy continued, “Obviously, I think there is a little bit of an adjustment in the market, there is a little bit of a weaker spot in the middle to lower end, but I think that's not a bad thing. I think it shows a little bit of a stabilization. It's a mild correction or a little softening in spots. And I think that's very normal–that's to say, we're not seeing massive changes. With all of the economic headwinds globally, to see minor corrections, I think is actually in some ways a little comforting. When you look at the global markets, there is every reason why we should have a more challenging environment and we don't. I think there is a lot of positivity that we have to feed off and be encouraged by.”

Ancient Peace (War Front), a newly turned 3-year-old filly who broke her maiden in her second start in the final days of 2022, brought the auction's top price when selling Tuesday for $650,000 to Travis Boersma's Boardshorts Stables from the Indian Creek consignment. Boersma, the co-founder of the Oregon-based coffee chain Dutch Bros., made headlines at Keeneland in November when he purchased a share in Flightline for $4.6 million.

In addition to the sale topper, Boersma also purchased Empire Hope (Empire Maker) for $450,000, as well as a Mary of Bethany (Medaglia d'Oro) for $80,000 and Candy Jar (Candy Ride {Arg}) for $47,000.

“You see a lot of farms like Determined Stud and Boardshorts, Travis Boersma, these are all younger enterprises that are really starting to get established and firmed up,” Lacy said. “It's really good to see those newer operations load up.”

Matt Dorman's Determined Stud purchased a pair of mares at the January sale, going to $425,000 to acquire Dream Passage (Stormy Atlantic) and $290,000 to acquire Saucy Lady T (Tonalist).

Ancient Peace was supplemented to the January sale just days before the start of the auction. Also supplemented to the sale was Ack Naughty (Afleet Alex), whose son Practical Move (Practical Joke) won the GII Los Alamitos Futurity in December. That mare sold for $500,000 to Chester and Mary Broman, good for fifth highest price at the sale.

A colt by Vekoma, another supplement to the auction, was the top-priced short yearling of Wednesday's session when selling for $180,000 from the St George Sales consignment and Wentru (Tourist), at $200,000, was the top seller during Thursday's final session of the auction after being supplemented following a graded score at Woodbine in December.

“We try to be more flexible and responsive to the needs of our clients, I think that's paramount to our future vision of where we need to be,” Lacy said. “The supplementary aspect is really helpful to our clients, both buyers and sellers. So I think the more we can lean into that and find ways of working and making this more of a user-friendly environment, I think that's only going to help everybody.”

A filly by Quality Road was the January sale's top-priced short yearling, selling for $450,000 to bloodstock agent Jacob West, bidding on behalf of Robert and Lawana Low. The filly sold directly after her dam, Evocative (Pioneerof the Nile), who brought a final bid of $550,000–third-highest price at the sale–from bloodstock agent Kerri Radcliffe.

Through the four-day sale, 417 weanlings sold for $18,361,300 and an average of $44,032.

In 2022, 493 short yearlings sold at the January sale for a total of $18,140,800 and an average of $36,797. The top-priced yearling was a colt by Gun Runner who sold for $375,000.

“I think the quality short yearlings sold extremely well,” Lacy said. “The buyers were finding it difficult to buy. And I think when you hear that, it just means the quality is what they are looking for. You've only got to be pleased with that.”

Wentru Tops at Keeneland Finale

Wentru (Tourist) (hip 1571), a 5-year-old gelding coming off a win in the GIII Valedictory S. at Woodbine in December, will be joining the barn of trainer Will Walden after selling for a session-topping $200,000. Frank Taylor made the winning bid on the dark bay, who was supplemented to the auction as part of the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment, and signed the ticket as Will Walden Racing Stable.

“It's for a bunch of guys I talked into buying him,” said Taylor. “I was trying to get another good horse in Will's barn. So we put together a group and bought him. There is a $125,000 stakes up there [at Turfway] Feb. 18 and hopefully he will be ready for it. And then there is another one in March for $300,000.”

Wentru won his fourth straight race in the Valedictory, all at Woodbine, in the colors of Elliott Logan's TEC Racing and trainer Martin Drexler.

“He's a cool horse and he's on a roll. Hopefully we can keep him on a roll,” Taylor said.

Walden also trains Kate's Kingdom (Animal Kingdom), who Taylor and partners purchased for $400,000 out of the Fasig-Tipton Digital Flash sale. The 5-year-old mare won the Dec. 11 My Charmer S.

“We bought her for $400,000 and we've had luck with her so far,” Taylor said of the mare. “She won that $125,000 stakes a month ago and she's favored in another $125,000 stakes on Saturday.”

Repole, Taylor Made Team Up to Support Idol

When Mike Repole and Taylor Made Farm teamed up to acquire Grade I winner Idol (Curlin–Marion Ravenwood, by A.P. Indy) for stallion duties, the plan was always to support the 6-year-old with mares purchased in partnership. That plan was put into practice this week at the Keeneland January sale, with Repole/Taylor Made Idol Mare Partners signing for 10 mares for a total of $925,000.

“When we bought the horse with Mike Repole, one of the things that we talked about was, as a group, to get the best possible support to get Idol going early on with the right kind of mares,” said Taylor Made's stallion nomination manager Travis White. “We did a similar thing with the Albaugh family for Not This Time and some of those mares that we bought ended up being his best horses. We just thought we would use a similar play book.”

Leading the partnership's purchases was Lagoon Falls (Uncle Mo) (hip 66), who was acquired for $170,000. Showtime Sis (Euroears) (hip 637) was a $160,000 purchase and Euphoric (Frosted) (hip 417) cost the group $140,000.

“We were trying to buy the right kind of physicals that we thought would fit Idol,” White said. “Mares that looked early, fast and precocious, whether it was the mare herself or if she had produced something early. That was the game plan; to buy quality mares that we thought would fit and help him get off to a good start. So we could get some good foals on the grounds that we could place accordingly, next November, or to sell as yearlings, that would catalogue well enough to be in good books and get him off to a good start.”

Idol won the 2021 GI Santa Anita H. and was second in the 2020 GII San Antonio S. and third in the 2021 GII San Pasqual S., but perhaps more important to Repole, the stallion is a full-brother to Nest, the likely champion 3-year-old filly of 2022 who he co-owns with Michael House and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.

“We all heard that Idol was available to be purchased to be a stallion,” Repole advisor Eddie Rosen said. “And obviously that appealed to Mike because of his success with Nest.”

Rosen continued, “We wanted to do our best to continue to support the stallion. So we agreed to partner on these 10 mares. With the Taylor Made team and, from our side, Jacob West and Alex Solis doing the physicals, we swapped notes with their team and these were the ones that we agreed upon. We bid on others, but these were the ones that we were able to acquire given the strategy that we were trying to implement.”

Partnering with major owners is a strategy that has worked for Taylor Made with the successful young stallion Not This Time. According to White, the partnerships just make sense.

“The way the stallion business is today, I think it's very important to have partners that will support the horses,” White said. “They will breed the right kind of mares to the stallion and they have advisors that give them good advice. Mike has Jacob West, Eddie Rosen and Alex Solis. Those guys can steer him towards the right kind of mares, physically and pedigree-wise, as well. We've had horses in the past that didn't have the ownership groups that might help support them. I think it's vital in this day and age.”

Idol will stand his first season at stud at Taylor Made this year at a fee of $10,000 fee. White has been happy with the response the stallion has already gotten from the market.

“He will breed a good-sized book,” he said. “And we did some breeding rights in the horse and we have people who will be on board to support the horse for the first three years. Mike is going to breed a lot of other mares on his own, as well.  And Calvin Nguyen, who owned Idol as a racehorse, stayed in for part as a stallion and he is breeding five or six mares to him himself that he bought back in November. Overall, it's been very good and we are very pleased with the way things are going.”

In addition to the 10 mares purchased at Keeneland January, the Taylor Made/Repole partnership could add a few more mares before the breeding season start.

“We might continue to look if there are any private acquisitions we could make or at the Fasig-Tipton February sale,” Rosen said.

White added, “It was a very good experience. All of the mares will come back here to Taylor Made. We might send one or two to New York to foal out possibly.”

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