John Ferguson came to town, representing Sheikh Mohammed, and in the last two days spent over $34 million on eight mares and one Dynaformer filly, including the new all-time record broodmare, $10.5-million for Playful Act—and she wasn ’ t even in foal. Though Fasig-Tipton suffered a $12-million drop in gross, by virtue of having 35 percent fewer horses sold, their average was way up, 29 percent. Keeneland sold 30 more horses than last year, for an additional $25 million, and their average yesterday was $562,186, up 10 percent from last year ’ s Monday session. Adding Fasig Sunday plus Keeneland Monday together, this year 301 horses sold for $161.1-million, and averaged $535,216. Last year the two days combined saw 334 horses sell for $147,925,000, an average of $370,112. This year, 10 percent fewer horses sold on the two days combined, but they were up nine percent in gross (over $13-million) and 21 percent in average. No fewer than 40 horses sold for $1-million plus over the two days, a 29-percent gain over last year ’ s 31 seven-figure sales at Fasig and Keeneland Monday. Ferguson pitched a shutout, too: reportedly underbidders on Playful Act, Coolmore added no fillies or mares on Sunday or Monday to their undoubtedly awesome arsenal of broodmares. In many cases, they weren ’ t the underbidders, either; there was American money flying all over the place.
The sales so far demonstrate both the power of pedigree, and the weakness of pedigree. The power of pedigree because Playful Act, a Group 1-wininng two-year-old in 2004, by Sadler ’ s Wells and a full or half-sister to four other stakes winners, out of Magnificient Style (cue Tattersalls ’ Jimmy George: Magnificient Style herself is in their December Sale). But the sales so far also demonstrate the weakness of pedigree, judging by the number of mares and fillies sold for $500,000 or more on the basis of their race records, not their pedigrees. This is because pedigree and families, in the traditional sense as we oldies understand them, are essentially being phased out of American pedigrees. The good racemares and fillies come from everywhere now, and plenty of them are being sold in the November sales to breeders who are buying them because they’re the best that are available. It’s not that people don ’ t still want, or like, what we used to call ‘ good pedigrees’; it ’ s that they can ’ t buy them. Consequently more emphasis, and value, is placed on the mare or filly ’ s race record. Of course, these values slide up and down the scale depending on whether and how much pedigree and family the individual actually does have. But, for the most part, breeders have been forced into choosing racing performance and (in-foal) sire power, given the absence of pedigree, as we used to know it. But, boy, does Playful Act show what happens when you have the race record, the individual, and the pedigree to go with it.
It ’ s Election Day in Kentucky today, so no selling that demon rum in the Keeneland bars until the polls close; we don ’ t want anybody buying your votes. B.Y.O.B., and if you intend to bid on any mares, too, better make sure your satchels are stuffed and your pockets are deep. It ’ s that kind of sale.
Extract by Bill Oppenheim (TDN 6.11.07)