Certainly, we got some new players participating at this level which haven’t done so in the past. There’s a good cross-section of them looking at all the horses, to get the ones that break loose and the ones that are affordable.
— Geoffrey Russell / Keeneland Director of Sales

8 - 21 September 2014

In a week in which the financial world was sending out SOS signals from the Scottish referendum, lower job numbers in the States and a battling Rand, if you’d been at the Keeneland ringside in Kentucky yesterday, you’d be forgiven for believing it was a county of the moon. The biggest auction sale of racehorses in the world kicked off on Monday, and trade on the second day was massively strong, the median, at $280,000 (+- R3milion at yesterday’s exchange rate,) up 40%, while the average was up a tad over 24%. The rise was all the more commendable in the wake of big leaps in the past couple of years in both of those indices, and tells us the Northern Hemisphere is in for a bumper sales season.

“From start to finish, I thought today was very strong” said Keeneland’s Director Of Sales, Geoffrey Russell. “We saw players play today who didn’t play last year: certainly, we got some new players participating at this level which haven’t done so in the past. There’s a good cross-section of them looking at all the horses, to get the ones that break loose and the ones that are affordable”. Top price at $1.6miillion was an Unbridled’s Song half brother to last year’s Classic winner, Oxbow, from a full sister to champion racehorse and leading stallion, Tiznow. He fell to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm following a protracted duel with former champion trainer, D.Wayne Lukas. It was the second purchase of the day for Pope, who had paid $700,000 for a daughter of Tapit from South African Anthony Beck’s Gainesway Farm earlier in the session “After buying a filly, I thought I would venture out and try something different”, Pope explained “He’s absolutely gorgeous; everybody says these things, but he is tremendous. Unbridled’s Songs tend to go on and run, and then become stallions, which is what we’re hoping for. Hopefully we’ll win the Derby on the way there”. Lukas, who trained last year’s Preakness winner Oxbow, signed for a yearling a few lots later, but was still lamenting the loss of the prized yearling as the ink dried on that ticket.

Back To War

The Irish contingent from Coolmore have been keen and understandable fans of the progeny of the Claiborne resident sire, War Front, and were back at “war” yesterday when M.V. Magnier stretched to $1.3million for a grandson of the Group One-winning daughter of Mr. Prospector, Educated Risk, consigned by the home of Team Valor’s mares, Craig Bandoroff’s Denali Stud. While the colt’s dam Score, was unplaced, she’s a daughter of the “emperor” of American stallions, A.P.Indy, from one of the best families in the Claiborne Stud book. “He’s a very nice horse and it’s the same cross (War Front ex an A.P.Indy mare) as Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Gr.1) runner-up, Due Diligence. He’s a good mover, the lads liked him and we’ll bring him back to Ashford (the American “home” of Coolmore) before he joins Aidan O Brien at Ballydoyle in Ireland”. Of the price, Magnier offered “It’s hard to ever expect to pay tha”, echoing his views after he signed the buyer’s slip at the same sale last year for two sons of War Front at $2.5miillion and $1 million respectively.

Craig Bandoroff was not completely surprised at the outcome, considering how popular the colt had been. “He’s a beautiful horse, by a great stallion with a real pedigree. It’s hard to get them to tick all the boxes, but he ticked all the boxes. I can’t remember ever showing a horse more than this one: he was out 250 times and showed like a man, and did his job”. Bandoroff postulated that the high prices paid for the War Fronts were due to the relatively short supply and high demand. “The beautiful thing about Claiborne, is that they don’t breed these horses to a lot of mares: they’re a rarity”.

It’s all in the “flay”

Back at the 2008 September Sale, celebrity chef Bobby Flay bought a Medaglia d’Oro filly named Super Espresso, as he looked to ramp up the pedigree power in his racing stable. The transaction was anything but routine. The filly was originally knocked down to British connections at $1.5million, but within hours it transpired that the bidders had failed to establish their credit with Keeneland. The episode had the potential of a giant headache for the sales company, but two days later Flay and his advisor, old Summerhill pal, Barry Weisbord, were notified that the filly was available. Flay jumped at the chance and it paid big dividends, as she chalked up a Group victory as well as two Group One places at the races. Yesterday, the mare continued to reward the big chef’s investment, with a filly by the Gainesway stallion Tapit, who entered the ring as the “talking horse” of Tuesday’s session, concluding with a $1milion bid from Canadian horseman, Robert Krembil. Consigned by another scion of the famous Claiborne/Hancock family, he went to the sales under Arthur Hancock’s Stone Farm banner. “To me, this filly was a pearl beyond price. She’s a lovely filly, and they bought into a real future here, I think. We’ve raised three Kentucky Derby winners, and now we’re looking for an Oaks winner. You never know…”, said the owner of the farm that bred and sold Summerhill stallion, Brave Tin Soldier, himself the holder of the $3million world record for a foal at foot. This bloke’s one “hot” seller.

Keeneland September Yearling Sale
Day 1 Top Lots

Hip Sex Sire Dam Price ($)
105 Filly Bernardini Mushka 1,200,000
29 Filly Curlin Leslie's Lady 1,100,000
160 Colt Tapit Pretty 'n Smart 900,000
154 Filly Tapit Ponche de Leona 775,000
149 Colt Bernardini Pilfer 750,000
66 Filly Tapit Mayan Milagra 700,000
87 Colt Bernardini Misty Hour 650,000
133 Filly Bernardini Oonagh Maccool 600,000
90 Colt Benchmark Mo Chuisle 560,000
40 Colt Speightstown Listen to My Song 500,000

Keeneland September Yearling Sale
Day 2 Top Lots

Hip Sex Sire Dam Price ($)
345 Colt Unbridled's Song Tizamazing 1,600,000
228 Colt War Front Score 1,300,000
307 Filly Tapit Super Espresso 1,000,000
234 Colt Tapit Seeinsbelieven 700,000
249 Filly Tapit Silver Colors 700,000
314 Filly Tapit Sweet Mariage 700,000
351 Colt Tapit Trickski 700,000
211 Colt Kitten's Joy Sacred Feather 675,000
268 Filly Fastnet Rock So Stylish 600,000
358 Colt Pulpit Twist 600,000

Keeneland September Yearling Sale
Cumulative Day 2

Session Totals 2014 2013
Catalogued 380 438
No. Offered 332 374
No. Sold 241 269
RNA's 91 105
% RNAs 27.4% 28.1%
No. $500K+ 32 24
High Price $1,600,000 $1,500,000
Gross $70,953,000 $69,621,000
Average (% change) $294,411 (+13.8%) $258,814
Median (% change) $250,000 (+25%) $200,000