Offered as the final hip at Friday's Keeneland April Horses of Racing Age Sale in Lexington, a share (2.5% fractional interest) in Airdrie Stud's Upstart (Flatter–Party Silks, by Touch Gold) was hammered down for $450,000 to Mike Freeny, who operates Dunquin Farm in nearby Paris, Kentucky, with his wife Pat.
A Grade II winner and placed no fewer than six times in Grade I company at distances between eight and nine furlongs, Upstart has been represented by three winners at the graded level, with two representatives from his second crop set to feature prominently at Churchill Downs next weekend. Jeff Drown's Zandon presented the stallion with his first Grade I winner when running out an extremely impressive winner of the Toyota Blue Grass S. Apr. 9 and continues to train forwardly towards next Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby. The sire's 3-year-old daughter Kathleen O. is undefeated from four starts to date, including a latest success in the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks Apr. 2, and is expected to vie for favoritism in the May 6 GI Longines Kentucky Oaks.
“I did expect to pay that for it, but that was my limit,” Freeny said. “He's got some good horses on the Derby trail and on the Oaks trail. He's a good producer and his horses are running and we're sure pleased to have a share.”
Airdrie's Bret Jones said the decision was made to offer the share in an effort to strike while the iron's hot.
“We thought the share had a chance to sell very, very well,” he said. “The timing is right. The stallion sure seems right. When you have a public auction, people get competitive and I've just met our partner, Mr. Freeny, for the first time and I couldn't be happier about it. We're very happy to have him come on board. We've got a lot to root for this coming weekend and I like our chances with Upstart having another big weekend a week from now.”
The Upstart share was the second-priciest offering at the sale. The Taylor Made-sales consigned hip 23, recent Carousel S. winner Acting Out (Blame), fetched $600,000 from Will and Sarah Farish. A full report will appear in Sunday's TDN.
—Additional reporting by Sue Finley