By Brian DiDonato & Jessica Martini
LEXINGTON, KY–While Thursday's second and final Book 2 session of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale included some lulls without big-money sellers, it finished strong, with the day's top two lots coming in the final 20 or so hips.
A colt by the in-demand Into Mischief (hip 1203) was the lone Book 2 offering to reach the seven-figure threshold, selling for an even $1-million to Peter Leidel, who did his bidding on the phone. The son of Grade II winner Teen Pauline (Tapit) was consigned to the sale by Warrendale Sales, agent for Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Bred & Raised. Stonestreet was also responsible for Book 1's $2-million Tapit topper.
“It was a very exciting finish today–to have three individuals bidding all the way to the million-dollar mark,” said Keeneland's Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell. “There was a lot of depth to the market, I thought, today. Again, the comment we've made before is that it is very selective. The ones that they align on are bringing great money; the ones that just miss the mark are having a hard time to get sold. It is a very selective market.”
A total of $34,507,000 in trade was done on Thursday from 182 head sold. The average was $176,959 and median was $135,000.
Over the course of four days of selling thus far, $165,853,000 has changed hands on 622 transactions, including 33 post sale. The cumulative average is $266,645 and median is $200,000.
The session RNA rate was 40.18% and overall buy-back rate sits at 38.35%. While year-to-year comparisons remain somewhat difficult due to a difference in format compared to last year (three Book 1 sessions in 2019), the RNA rate remains significantly elevated compared to 2019, when 28.18% of horses were bought back by the end of Book 2.
“A couple of people told me they were happy to take their horses home–they had a Plan B when they came here,” Russell said. “They knew the market was going to be a little off, and they had already planned on Plan B. They brought horses to market hoping to be sold, but if they didn't, they had other plans in their mind.”
Consignor John Mulholland noted, like many, the particular selectivity of the market: “Chickens or feathers; feast or famine. Everybody's landing on the same horse, and you're going to get paid a ton [on those]. If you bring 10 horses, three or four are going to have to carry the load for the rest. That's the unfortunate state of the market right now. I can think of horses years ago that we brought up here that had one issue after another–whether it be on the X-rays, on the vetting, or some sort of conformational fault; but we'd still get them sold for something decent. That is just kind of gone. If you don't jump through every hoop, and check every box, forget it. Where we're at, it's sad, and I hope we can recover in time. But for me, that's the reality of it.”
Russell said hopes and expects new money to show up as the sale moves into its final four books.
“The pinhookers haven't started really playing yet, so we hope that we'll see them,” he said. “We usually see that in Book 3, when that part of the market starts to develop.”
Russell ended his Thursday evening press briefing with a remembrance of longtime Keeneland auctioneer Cris Caldwell, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in May.
“This is the first sale we've had without Cris Caldwell, and the amount of consignors and buyers who have come by and commented about it and acknowledged it,” he said. “One guy said to me that he was a great 'bouncer'–he'd go and bounce ideas off of him and get a value… A lot of people have come up and said that they miss him and wish he was here. It's quite humbling.”
Leidel Strikes Late for Into Mischief Colt
Peter Leidel, bidding over the phone, made the highest bid of the two-day Book 2 section of the September sale when going to an even $1 million to secure a son of Into Mischief at Keeneland Thursday. The bay colt–the fifth yearling by the Spendthrift stallion to sell for seven figures this week at Keeneland–is out of graded stakes winner Teen Pauline (Tapit). He was consigned by Warrendale Sales as agent for Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings.
“He is a lovely horse, ticked all the boxes as they say,” said Warrendale's Hunter Simms of hip 1203. “He has a great walk. The Into Mischiefs have been on fire at this sale and on the racetrack. The mare was a new track record holder. Stonestreet did a nice job prepping him and he showed himself well at the barn. He is a classy animal.”
Thursday's session opened with a Stonestreet-bred colt by Into Mischief, consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, selling for $675,000 to Shadwell Estate Company Ltd.
“Stonestreet has been very supportive of us over the years and we greatly appreciate it. We have had good success for them,” Simms said.
Through four sessions of the September sale, 45 yearlings by Into Mischief have sold for $23,280,000 and an average of $517,333. Larry Best's OXO Equine purchased the most expensive offering by the stallion when bidding $1.9 million to acquire a filly from the Taylor Made consignment (hip 438).
Stonestreet purchased Effectual (Carson City), with Teen Pauline in utero, for $475,000 at the 2009 Keeneland November sale. Racing in the Stonestreet colors, the dark bay won the 2014 GII Top Flight H. and was third in the 2012 GI Spinaway S. She is the dam of 3-year-old Cambria (Speightstown), who beat the boys in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint in 2019.
In partnership with Stonestreet, Leidel campaigned 2017 G1 King's Stand S. and G1 Darley Prix Morny winner Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy). Banke purchased the filly for $7.5 million at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton November sale to dissolve the partnership. @JessMartiniTDN
Avengers Step in For 'Quality' Colt Late
The stallion-making partnership of SF Racing, Starlight, Madaket, et al, more commonly referred to as “The Avengers” these days after their trainer Bob Baffert coined the nickname, woke up a somewhat sleepy sales pavilion late in Thursday's session to add another 2022 Classic prospect to their formidable roster.
“He's a Quality Road–a great stallion,” said SF's Tom Ryan. “We're just starting to see the cream rising to the top now with him. Just think of what he's accomplished already; the future's so bright for him.”
Quality Road, whose crop of yearlings was bred on a $70,000 fee but who commanded $200,000 for the 2020 breeding season, has had seven KEEESEP sellers bring $500,000 or more. The Avengers bought two other colts in Book 1 (hip 97, $620,000; hip 187, $600,000), and their and Baffert's agent bought the Lane's End resident's priciest seller, a $1-million filly (hip 67).
“A good horse comes in there, and there's plenty of competition,” Ryan added. “We really felt like we were going to have to reach for this horse, but Bob, Donato, everybody loved him.”
The Avengers, who purchased recent GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic (Into Mischief) for $350,000 here two years ago, have racked up a tab of $9,825,000 on 22 head so far this September sale.
“It's been a busy sale for us,” Ryan said. “Keeneland assembled a great group of horses here, and good horses are hard to buy.”
Dobson purchased hip 1197's dam Sustainable (Forestry) for $200,000 at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton July sale, and raced her under his Cheyenne Stables banner to a couple of stakes placings and nearly $260,000 in earnings. Her 2017 Pioneerof the Nile colt sold for $400,000 here two terms ago and has been working in California towards a debut.
“We're delighted,” said Candy Meadows's Matt Lyons after he and Dobson thanked the buyers. “He's a lovely horse and a homebred for the farm. We raised him all along and he grew up well. We didn't have any horses in Book 1, so this is our first group here. We've waited all day for him, and there were some very good judges of horse flesh on him… The price was comfortably above the reserve. We liked him, but we set a reasonable reserve and let the market take care of it. There are a lot of good judges that vetted the horse. When we walked up here and saw the people bidding on the horse, it was very comforting.”
Lyons echoed the sentiments of many regarding the market: for the lots of perceived highest quality, there's plenty of money.
“For the special horses like him, I don't think there is any trouble at all,” Lyons said. “You have groups looking to buy two-turn Derby-type horses and there are a lot of people looking for that type of horse. When they all land on the same one, they can bring an exceptional price. The group that bought him obviously know how to win the big races, so that's great for us having the mare at home and having siblings coming. Of course he'll be trained by Mr. Baffert and he knows how to win the big races too, so it's great.” —@BDiDonatoTDN
Constitution Filly Sells for a 'Fortune'
A filly by Constitution sat atop the leaderboard for much of the day Thursday after selling online for $725,000 to agents Alex Solis II and Jason Litt on behalf of the Roth family's LNJ Foxwoods. The half-sister to last year's GI Woody Stephens S. winner Hog Creek Hustle (Overanalyze) was consigned to the sale by Kitty Taylor's Warrendale Sales on behalf of Sandra Sexton and Steven and Brandi Nicholson's Silver Fern Farm as hip 904.
“She was just beautiful,” Taylor said. “She was vetted a tremendous amount. I sold her for some long-standing clients of mine who are very dear friends, Sandra Sexton and Silver Fern Farm. We sold Hog Creek Hustle and [MSW & GSP] Majestic Dunhill (Majesticperfection). She was vetted so much and handled it so well. She went to a great place with LNJ Foxwoods.”
Sexton and her late husband Hargus and Silver Fern acquired SW and MGSP Ready for Fortune (More Than Ready) while she was carrying a Candy Ride (Arg) filly at the 2010 Keeneland November sale. That filly never made the races, but Majestic Dunhill ($47,000 KEESEP '16) was her first foal and Hog Creek Hustle ($150,000 KEESEP '17) was her second foal. Her third foal by Gemologist was just a $4,000 FTKOCT yearling but won on debut as a juvenile in maiden special weight company and took a Churchill allowance.
Thursday's sale was the first time the ownership group had really been able to cash in on Candy Fortune's foals' success, but Taylor said they won't be selling the factory any time soon.
“They won't sell the mare; they keep all their mares,” she said. “I had the mare Caroni (Rubiano) for them, [2018 GII Black-Eyed Susan S. winner] Red Ruby (Tiznow) was out of her, but they didn't sell her, they kept her to race. They just like to build a big, solid broodmare band. Most people that buy to race know them well and they're very comfortable buying from them.”
Candy Fortune lost her Flatter foal this year and was bred back to Frosted.
Hip 904, meanwhile, is the highest-priced yearling to sell so far this season by leading sophomore Tiz the Law's red-hot sire Constitution–Solis/Litt also bought his second-most-expensive seller, a $375,000 colt at last week's Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Showcase. This crop of yearlings was produced before Constitution's first runners took his status to another level.
“[Hip 904] stood out [among the Constitutions] and that's what I heard from everybody,” Taylor said. “She vetted and the physical matched. She was one of the better-pedigreed Constitutions. But [the sire] is on his way.” —@BDiDonatoTDN
Shadwell Goes Back for More Mischief
Shadwell Estate Company's Rick Nichols, who was forced to $700,000 to acquire a colt by Into Mischief Wednesday at Keeneland, was able to get another son of the leading sire for $675,000 early during Thursday's session of the Keeneland September sale.
“I thought we might have to go a little bit more than that,” Nichols admitted after signing the ticket on hip 880.
Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency as agent for his breeder Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, the yearling (hip 880) is out of Bella Jolie (Broken Vow) and is a half-brother to sprint champion Runhappy (Super Saver).
“He's a very nice colt,” Nichols said. “He's a half-brother to a good sprinter with good conformation and he looks like he has a really good head on his shoulders. Nice horse.”
Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell operation finished third in the Sept. 7 GI Runhappy Hopeful S. with Mutasaabeq, a son of Into Mischie, and Nichols said it was no surprise the stallion's yearlings have been in demand at the September sales.
“He's the leading sire in the country,” Nichols said. “We have a really good 2-year-old by him. We really like him.”
Barbara Banke's Stonestreet operation purchased Bella Jolie, in foal to Cairo Prince, for $1.6 million at the 2015 Keeneland November sale. Her first Stonestreet-bred yearling to sell at auction was an Uncle Mo colt who sold for $500,000 at last year's September sale.
“We met with the Stonestreet team and they decided to put this horse in Book 2,” explained Taylor Made's Mark Taylor. “They thought he might stand out a little more here and I think he did. He was head and shoulders above a lot of the other horses we had in this book and the big buyers found him. That was significantly above our reserve. It was a good solid highlight to the day. We may have a couple of more that get there too.”
Nichols came back a few hips later to acquire a colt by Curlin (hip 911), again consigned by Taylor Made on behalf of Stonestreet for $500,000. During Wednesday's session of the September sale, Nichols paid $800,000 for a colt by Speightstown (hip 559) consigned for Stonestreet by Elm Tree Farm. @JessMartiniTDN
Another Moon for the Lows
Robert and Lawana Low, who had graded success with Magnum Moon, added another son of Malibu Moon to their racing operation when bloodstock agent Jacob West made a final bid of $610,000 for hip 977 in the back show barn. Bred and consigned by Larry Doyle's KatieRich Farms, the yearling is out of multiple graded placed Fantasy of Flight (Tiznow).
“He was kind of representative of what they look for,” West said of the yearling. “He looks like a big two-turn horse out of a mare who could run by a stallion they love. He vetted clean and was a beautiful specimen.”
West said demand for the top offerings remained strong as the September sale's Book 2 concluded Thursday.
“It's been strong for the right ones,” West said. “But we're inching towards that spot in the sale where I think you are going to see a dramatic drop off. I think it's slowed down just a little bit. And I think we are inching towards that–I don't know when it's coming. I hope not for a long time for the breeders' sakes, but I think it's coming.”
KatieRich acquired Fantasy of Flight privately in the midst of a racing career which saw her hit the board in five graded races. She had a Malibu Moon filly sell for $425,000 at the 2018 September sale and a Ghostzapper colt bring $500,000 at the auction last year. @JessMartiniTDN
Cayala Rewards Kingswood Again
Roderick Wachman's Kingswood Farm and David Egan enjoyed their second consecutive year with high-dollar sale of a son of Into Mischief out of Cayala (Cherokee Run) at Keeneland September. Last year's colt brought $550,000, and this year's (hip 912) one-upped his brother at $600,000, selling to GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic (Into Mischief) co-owners Spendthrift Farm and MyRacehorse.com.
To be fair, though, the 2-year-old likely helped the yearling. Campaigned by Breeze Easy LLC, trained by Wesley Ward and named Roderick, he was a dominant debut winner at Belmont in June before finishing off the board in the GII Best Pal S. at Del Mar. Both colts are full-siblings to GSW One Liner, a $150,000 KEEJAN '15 seller.
“It was a fantastic price; the [reserve] was way before that,” Wachman said. “He was a nice horse, so happy days. I hope they are very lucky with him. The mare and the stallion [together] have been very good to me. We bred all the foals. We bought the mare as a maiden [at Tattersalls December 2011 for $27,559].”
Cayala, who hails from the family of Grade I winners and sires Albertus Maximus and Daredevil, was bought back for just $52,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November sale while carrying One Liner.
“As you would expect, a lot of people have not traveled so, while we have lots of agents, the principals are not here,” Wachman said of the market. “When principals are not here, agents are a little more risk-averse because the person isn't giving them a push.” —@BDiDonatoTDN
New High Water Mark for Lord Nelson
Spendthrift Farm freshman Lord Nelson (Pulpit) achieved his highest auction price to date Thursday when a half-brother to 2018 GII Remsen S. hero Maximus Mischief (Into Mischief)–now a Spendthrift resident himself–brought $460,000 from Frank Fletcher Racing and Ten Strike Racing. The strapping Apr. 3 foal was consigned to the sale as hip 1136 by his breeders, Mulholland Springs.
“I really felt like he was something fantastic,” John Mulholland said. “Like with most nice horses, you know they're nice as soon as they're foaled. He reminded me a lot of Maximus Mischief, and that's because the mare throws a lot of herself into her foals. This one reminded me a lot of Max himself, and obviously it was a huge [for the pedigree] with him winning the graded stake and all of that. [Hip 1136] is exactly what you're hoping for when you raise something. He's beautiful, he's strong; a lot of body to him. He's everything you hope for as a breeder.”
Lord Nelson, knocked out of the 2016 GI Breeders' Cup Sprint in which he would have been a heavy favorite due to a leg infection, then had to overcome a battle with laminitis that forced him to miss the entire 2017 breeding season. While he may have lost a bit of momentum before covering his first mares last term, Mulholland is bullish on Lord Nelson's future.
“I have supported him; I've liked him from day one,” he said. “Obviously, it was a tough start with him getting hurt and then his feet and all, but I've bred to him and I'm very hopeful. We need another son of Pulpit, and he's a beautiful horse. I've liked everything he's thrown for us, so I hope he makes it.”
Hip 1136 is out of a Songandaprayer half-sister to GISW Secret Compass (Discreet Cat) who made 28 starts in Puerto Rico. Maximus Mischief was a $165,000 KEENOV weanling and eventual $340,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic juvenile. Dam Reina Maria produced a full-brother to Maximus Mischief earlier this year before being bred back to Into Mischief once again. —@BDiDonatoTDN
Scherer Dares Again
Bloodstock agent Clay Scherer, bidding on behalf of Staton Flurry, was able to acquire Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) as a graded stakes placed 2-year-old for $280,000 from the Hunter Valley Farm consignment at last year's Keeneland November sale. The purchase paid off in spades when the filly captured the GI Kentucky Oaks 13 days ago for trainer Brad Cox. Scherer was back in action for Flurry Thursday at Keeneland, securing the Oaks winner's half-sister by Speightster for $350,000 from the Woodford Thoroughbreds consignment.
“Staton loved her, Brad liked her a lot, too,” Scherer said after signing the ticket on hip 1182. “It's worked out so far for them. She'll get broke, go to Brad and see what happens. Hopefully we can make some magic happen again.”
Asked if he saw similarities between the two siblings, Scherer said, “Very much so. They look like carbon copies.”
Scherer said he has seen an exaggeration of the polarized market this September.
“It's been challenging, it's been very challenging as a buyer,” he said. “We've all landed on the same horses on numerous occasions. It's much more polarized right now.” @JessMartiniTDN
Munnings Filly Pays for McCauley
If you follow him on Twitter, you know Nate McCauley loves Munnings, so it was no surprise to learn that, when he bought the young mare Show Me (Lemon Drop Kid) for $24,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton February sale, his plan was to send her to the Coolmore stallion. The move paid dividends at Keeneland Thursday when the resulting yearling (hip 1164) sold for $240,000 to Quarter Pole Enterprises.
“That's just what you hope when you breed one, that they go on and do that,” McCauley said after watching the filly sell. “Eddie Woods bought her, so you can be hopeful that she'll go on to bigger and better things.”
Show Me is a half-sister to graded stakes winner Aegean (Northern Afleet) and stakes winner Light Bringer (Norther Afleet).
“She is a Lemon Drop Kid mare and I'm a big fan of Lemon Drop Kid,” McCauley said of Show Me's appeal. “It's a really precocious pedigree, she's a half-sister to a 2-year-old graded stakes winner that Wesley Ward had and Mark Casse bought her as a 2-year-old and paid a lot of money for her. She won first out and she's just a beautiful mare. And of course, I'm the biggest Munnings fan. So I picked her out for Munnings. Munnings has a graded stakes winner out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare already, so I knew the cross would work.”
In order to give the yearling the best chance of success, McCauley took some partners in on the foal, who was consigned Thursday by Pat Costello and Gabriel Duignan's Paramount Sales.
“A group of the lads came and saw the foal and they didn't let me get her to the ring as a weanling,” McCauley said. “I loved the filly so much and I have such appreciation and respect for those guys that I wanted to get her in their hands and they let me stay in. So I got her in their hands because I thought they could do what they did with her.”