Million-Dollar Mares Pace Keeneland January Opener

'TDN Rising Star' Prank leads the opening Keeneland session
at $1.6 million
| Keeneland

by Jessica Martini & Stefanie Grimm

LEXINGTON, KY – The Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale, which hadn't had a million-dollar mare since 2019, had two reach seven figures during its opening session Monday in Lexington, with 19-year-old Tom Wachman making the day's highest bid of $1.6-million to acquire the broodmare prospect Prank (Into Mischief) on behalf of his grandfather, John Magnier's Coolmore. Late in the session, Tomoyuki Nakamura of K I Farm purchased Curlin's Voyage (Curlin) for $1 million.

“I think we've got to be very happy with the way the session turned out,” Keeneland's Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy said Monday evening. “We had two million-dollar plus horses, which is the first time since 2019. The numbers were pretty much on par for much of the day compared to last year and last year was a very strong sale.”

A total of 225 horses sold Monday for $17,547,500 for an average of $77,989 and a median of $32,000. Bolstered by the two million-dollar mares, the session average was up 7.43% from a year ago, while the median declined 20%.

With 97 horses reported not sold, the buy-back rate was 30.12%. It was 31.29% a year ago.

Bloodstock agent Steve Young, accompanied by Ramona Bass, was the session's leading buyer with three mares purchased to support Bass's recently retired Grade I-winning sire Annapolis. The session featured a diverse buying bench with the 16 top-priced horses selling to 14 different buyers.

Cormac Breathnach and Tony Lacy on Monday | Keeneland

“I was really pleased with the depth of the buyer bench here,” said Keeneland's Director of Sales Operations Cormac Breathnach. “There were a lot of people signing tickets in the ring and a lot of important buyers from America and also from around the world.”

Demand for short yearlings, a segment of the market which was competitive at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale two months ago, remained strong Monday in Lexington. Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa, the session's leading consignor, sold the day's two top-priced yearlings, with a colt by Curlin selling to Milan Bloodstock for $375,000 and a son of Maclean's Music selling for $300,000 to Muir Hut Stables.

“The demand for yearlings was strong,” Breathnach said. “We sold 22 six-figure yearlings today versus 17 for the same day last year.”

Still there was a familiar polarization in the market.

“The market is very, very selective right now,” said Hill 'n' Dale manager Jared Burdine. “There are no end-users for the weanlings and pinhookers are very professional. They line up on the same horse.”

Lacy acknowledged the selectivity in the market, but also saw some positivity in Monday's results.

“Quality was very much to the fore,” Lacy said. “I think there was a little weakness on the ones of perceived lesser quality. But in saying that, I think the sellers were very pleased the way the market was shaking out and the buyers found it tough to buy what they were looking for. So, all in all, a good day.”

The Keeneland January sale continues through Thursday with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.

$1.6M Prank Kickstarts January Sale

Prank (Into Mischief) (hip 77), never able to follow up on a scintillating debut victory on the racetrack due to injury, had a star turn in the sales ring at Keeneland Monday, selling for $1.6 million to Coolmore. The 4-year-old was consigned by Gainesway, which campaigned her in partnership with LNJ Foxwoods and StarLadies Racing to that 9 3/4-length victory which earned her 'TDN Rising Star' honors at Saratoga in 2022.

“She's a lovely filly and a very good race filly,” said Tom Wachman after signing the ticket on the bay filly on behalf of the Coolmore team. “I'd say she will go to Justify. He's a phenomenal stallion doing it on the grass and the dirt. So I'd say that's where she'd go.”

Wachman, the 19-year-old grandson of Coolmore founder John Magnier, said this was the highest-priced horse he has signed for to date.

“I'm just trying to learn the ropes at the moment,” he said.

Out of Callingmissbrown (Pulpit), Prank is a half-sister to GI Belmont S. winner Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo). Bred by Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stables, she was purchased for $500,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September sale.

“She was a real talent,” Gainesway's Brian Graves said of Prank. “She broke her maiden by 10 at Saratoga when she won by the length of the stretch basically. She got injured and wasn't able to make it back. But she had that brilliance that people want, the type that if you pass that along to your foals, they can be Grade I winners. We certainly thought she had the ability to be a Grade I winner. On the day she broke her maiden, you would have said she was the best 2-year-old in America, colts or fillies. Her figures were among the fastest in six years in Saratoga. And those horses were Grade I winners, so the ability was there.”

Prank's last recorded works came in August and her presence in the January sale was largely an issue of timing, according to Graves.

“We were going on with her and she developed a little issue,” Graves said. “And it was obvious that we weren't going to be able to continue on and it was time for her to be a broodmare and dissolve the partnership. So she landed here.”

Graves admitted the filly's $1.6-million price tag exceeded expectations.

“The young and beautiful have been selling well,” Graves said. “It's been holding up and we thought she would be in the top end, but that was a bit more than we were expecting.”

Prank was the first seven-figure horse sold at Keeneland January since Abel Tasman (Quality Road) sold–also to Coolmore–for $5 million in 2019. @JessMartiniTDN

Curlin's Voyage Brings $1 Million

Canadian champion Curlin's Voyage (Curlin) (hip 413) became the second seven-figure offering of Monday's first session of the Keeneland January sale when bringing a final bid of $1 million from Tomoyuki Nakamura of K I Farm. The 7-year-old mare, who was supplemented to the auction, sold in foal to Flightline from the Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa consignment.

“I liked the pedigree, the physical and who she was in foal to,” Nakamura said through an interpreter. “Everything matched up. I liked everything about her.”

Curlin's Voyage, who produced a filly by Tapit in 2022 and a filly by Uncle Mo in 2023, was bred by John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale.  Racing for the partnership of Sikura and Windsor Boys Racing, the chestnut won the 2019 GIII Mazarine S. and 2020 Woodbine Oaks. She was named Canada's champion 2-year-old filly in 2019 and came back to be named champion 3-year-old filly in 2020.

The mare is out of Atlantic Voyage (Stormy Atlantic), a full-sister to Grade I winner Stormello.

Asked about his plans for the mare, Nakamura said, “I haven't decided yet. Still in the decision-making process.”

Annapolis Date for Bridlewood Cat

Bloodstock agent Steve Young, sitting alongside Ramona Bass, signed the ticket at $750,000 to acquire Bridlewood Cat (Street Sense) (hip 267). The 8-year-old mare, in foal to Tapit, was consigned by Denali Stud, as agent for Bridlewood Farm. She now has an impending date with the Bass family's recently retired Grade I winner Annapolis (War Front).

“She was bought for the Bass family with the intention to give Annapolis the best mare support he could possibly get,” Young said. “She is a terrific, talented horse who won her first two races with mid-90s Beyers. She had Grade I talent and is a very good-looking horse on her own. She is probably one of the fastest Street Sense fillies that there ever was, breaking her maiden going three-quarters in :09 and change and she is the type of mare that the family is going to support this horse with.”

Purchased by Bridlewood Farm for $750,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September sale, Bridlewood Cat was stakes-placed while winning two of 10 starts for earnings of $115,090.

She is out of Ithinkisawapudycat (Bluegrass Cat) and is a half-sister to GI Spinaway S. winner Sweet Loretta (Tapit). Ithinkisawapudycat is a half-sister to Canadian champion 2-year-old filly Spring in the Air (Spring At Last).

“She is from a highly talented 2-year-old family,” Young said. “Her half-sister is a Grade I winner on the dirt at Saratoga as a 2-year-old. Under the second dam is the 2-year-old champion of Canada. And we are going to breed her to an undefeated 2-year-old stakes winner in Annapolis.”

Steve Young | Keeneland

Bred and campaigned by the Bass family, Annapolis earned his first graded victory as a juvenile, winning the 2021 GII Pilgrim S. In 2022, he added the GI Coolmore Turf Mile and GIII Saranac S. He will begin his stud career next month at Claiborne Farm at a fee of $12,500.

“He is going to throw a lot of quality 2-year-olds,” Young said of the stallion. “He's going to throw dirt. We never got a chance to run him on the dirt, but he always trained tremendous on the dirt. This is the type of mare he deserves.”

Young signed for My Miss Sophia (Unbridled's Song), with Annapolis in utero, on behalf of Bass for $4 million at the 2018 Keeneland November sale.

Bridlewood Cat produced a colt by Authentic in 2022 and a colt by Essential Quality in 2023.

Young and Bass returned later in the session to acquire Kaling (Practical Joke) (hip 387), third in 2022 GI Spinaway S., for $650,000 from the Bluewater Sales consignment and closed out the opening session of the auction with Juniper's Moon (Galileo {Ire}) (hip 419), purchased for $625,000 from Taylor Made Sales Agency. @JessMartiniTDN

Hill 'n' Dale Consigns Pair of Top-Priced Colts

Hip 236, a son of Curlin out of 'TDN Rising Star' A Z Warrior (Bernardini), went to Milan Bloodstock on a final bid via phone of $370,000 during Monday's first session of the Keeneland January sale. The colt was the second of two top-priced short yearlings to sell within a matter of minutes consigned by John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa.

Curlin sets records year after year,” said Jared Burdine, general manager at Hill 'n' Dale. “This foal fit everyone's criteria. All of them [buyers] want kind of the same thing and the same five or six people were on the horse. So when it lines up, you get paid on those.”

Hip 236 | Keeneland

Hip 236 hails from a family of 'TDN Rising Stars' including not only his dam but also three of his dam's half-siblings in Jojo Warrior (Pioneerof the Nile), herself the dam of another 'Rising Star' in Under Oath (Speightstown), along with E Z Warrior (Exploit) and J Z Warrior (Harlan's Holiday). He is also a half to last year's Runhappy Ellis Park Debutante S. winner Justa Warrior (Justify).

The yearling was bred by Cypress Creek Equine, which purchased A Z Warrior in foal to Uncle Mo for $550,000 at the 2021 Keeneland January sale.

Just a few minutes earlier, Muir Hut Stables went to $300,000 for hip 200, an Ontario-bred short yearling by Maclean's Music. Bred by Josham Farm's Ted Burnett, the colt is out of Wild N Ready (More Than Ready), a mare purchased by Josham Farm for $170,000 out of Keeneland November in 2017.

“We thought he'd in the 100 range,” said Burnett. “He had a few minor vet issues that I thought might hurt him but, if you've got the right horse and the issue is not a big one, I don't think it makes much difference [in the price],” said Burnett. “We have a very strong program in Ontario. So we always find that Ontario-breds have a special market and often we feel that we get a little bit of a premium because of that.”

Burnett sold Wild N Ready two months ago at Keeneland November for $60,000 carrying a full-sibling to this colt. @SGrimmTDN

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