09/20/2012 12:36PM

A.P. Indy era comes to end at Keeneland

An A.P. Indy filly out of Moonlight Sonata sold for $1.1 million at the Keeneland sale’s opening session.

The recent Keeneland September yearling sale marked the end of an era for what sales director Geoffrey Russell called “very much Keeneland’s horse” as the last yearlings by A.P. Indy, once a sale-topping yearling himself at Keeneland, went through the auction ring.

Lane’s End Farm, which stood A.P. Indy for his entire breeding career, pensioned the stallion last year at age 22 after he failed to get any mares in foal. His last crop, born in 2011, consisted of 36 foals, and 13 of those went through the auction ring at the September sale. Two others − a half-sister to the dam of Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can and a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Alpha Kitten − were scratched.

The last of Keeneland’s A.P. Indys produced a final million-dollar yearling in their sire’s honor when Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm went to $1.1 million for the Mill Ridge agency’s daughter of stakes-winner Moonlight Sonata. That filly is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Beethoven and a three-quarter-sister to another Grade 2 winner, Wilburn, a colt by A.P. Indy’s highly fashionable young stallion son Bernardini.

The other Keeneland September yearlings by A.P. Indy were a $725,000 filly out of Million Gift that Charles Fipke bought from the Taylor Made agency; a $675,000 filly out of Miraculous Miss that Coolmore bought from the Eaton Sales agency; a $600,000 colt out of Coral Sea that Charles and Maribeth Sandford bought from Lane’s End, agent; a $335,000 filly out of Dream Express that JCM Racing bought from Lane’s End, agent; a $300,000 filly out of Foxy Danseur that Mayberry Farm bought from Clearsky Farms, agent; a $200,000 filly out of Rare Gift that Mayberry Farm bought from Lane’s End, agent; a $200,000 filly out of Mo Cuishle that Mark Casse, agent, bought from the Hill ‘n’ Dale agency; and a $60,000 filly out of Gourmet Girl that Mt. Baldy Equine bought from Lane’s End, agent.

Three others failed to reach their reserves. Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams’s colt out of Lady Lochinvar was a $975,000 buy-back. Denali Stud, agent, also bought back a filly out of Lacadena at $725,000, and Mt. Brilliant Farm bought back its Private Gift daughter at $575,000.

A.P. Indy’s link to Keeneland started in 1990, when he arrived at the Keeneland July yearling sale as part of co-breeder Will Farish’s Lane’s End consignment. Now defunct, the Keeneland July auction was for years the company’s flagship sale, and in 1990, A.P. Indy was its star attraction. He was known then as Summer Squall’s younger half-brother by Seattle Slew, and that was a big boost to A.P. Indy’s catalog page. Summer Squall had just won the Preakness after running second to Unbridled in the Kentucky Derby. A.P. Indy’s pedigree had Triple Crown written all over it. He was the son of the 1977 Triple Crown winner, and his dam, Weekend Surprise, was by 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

“We figured we’d have to be brave and bid fast,” bloodstock agent Noel O’Callaghan, who bid for A.P. Indy from Keeneland’s back walking ring, later told The Blood-Horse. O’Callaghan, pushed by underbidder D. Wayne Lukas, went to $2.9 million to buy A.P. Indy for Japanese developer Tomonori Tsurumaki. The price didn’t just top the sale, it was the year’s highest auction price for a yearling.

After signing the ticket, O’Callaghan spoke to reporters. “He’s not interested in breeding,” he said of Tsurumaki. “He’s a racing man.”

Tsurumaki got the ride of a lifetime with A.P. Indy’s racing career. Trained by Neil Drysdale, A.P. Indy finished fourth in his first start. Following the race, veterinary surgeons removed one undescended testicle out of concern that it was causing him discomfort. He came back to win a maiden special weight and an allowance by a combined seven lengths, then vaulted right into Grade 1 company, taking the Hollywood Futurity to start a five-race winning streak en route to the Kentucky Derby. After a 1 3/4-length win in the Santa Anita Derby,  A.P. Indy was poised to meet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Arazi at Churchill. Then he turned up with what appeared to be a bruised left front hoof. A.P. Indy jogged for Kentucky racing commission vet Dr. Edward Kennedy about five hours before the first race on Derby day and was lame, prompting Drysdale to withdraw Tsurumaki’s runner from the race that morning.

“The injury is not regarded as serious,” Daily Racing Form’s Joe Hirsch wrote at the time, “but it happened at a serious time.”

“Our whole year was based on this colt running in this race,” Drysdale said. “He would have run well, too.”

A.P. Indy’s injury, later diagnosed as a blind quarter crack, required him to skip the Preakness, too. But he returned to win the Belmont over My Memoirs and Preakness winner Pine Bluff. He suffered more foot problems later in the season when he stumbled in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He lost a shoe and tore off part of his right front hoof wall but managed to run third behind Pleasant Tap and Derby winner Strike the Gold. Farrier Joe Carroll effectively rebuilt the hoof wall with Equilox adhesive, and A.P. Indy took the Breeders’ Cup Classic in his next – and final – start to seal his Horse of the Year title.

In the end, racing man Tsurumaki retained an interest in A.P. Indy when he sent him to stud at Lane’s End. The Versailles, Ky., farm that had raised A.P. Indy put together a syndicate to stand him, including Farish’s co-breeder W.S. Kilroy, and the Horse of the Year started his stud career in 1993 with a $50,000 fee. It was that season’s highest fee for a first-year stallion, and it only went up over the next two decades, peaking at $300,000.

A.P. Indy was a leading sire in 2003 and 2006, and he was rarely far off the top spot from 2000 to 2011. Along the way, his foals have scattered a good bit of money around the Keeneland auction ring. A.P. Indy didn’t sire a Keeneland July sale-topper, but he did have one of that auction’s highest sire averages in 2000 and 2001, when his yearlings averaged $1,193,750 and $695,000. He was the Keeneland September sale’s leading sire by average price (with three or more yearlings sold) in 2007, 2010, and 2011. And his foals have topped the sale three times. In 2008, his daughter out of Chimichurri, Chimayo, brought $3.1 million, still one of the sale’s most expensive filly prices. A.P. Indy also led covering sires at Keeneland’s November sale in 2004, 2007, and 2008, and he was that auction’s leading weanling sire by average price in 2011. And A.P. Indy sired the third-most expensive 2-year-old ever sold at Keeneland’s April sale when his son Take Control brought $1.9 million. Two of his sons, Pulpit and Mineshaft, sired the April sale’s all-time colt and filly leaders, $3.3 million Chekhov and $1.75 million Patricia’s Gem.

When the last of Keeneland’s A.P. Indy yearlings went through the ring, their sire had two sons on North America’s top 10 sire list − Malibu Moon ranked seventh, and Bernardini ranked 14th − and his grandson, the Pulpit stallion Tapit, ranked fifth. A.P. Indy himself ranked sixth among broodmare sires. His son Majestic Warrior also ranked second among first-crop sires, above his grandson Sightseeing (by Pulpit) in fifth.

But over the last two weeks, A.P. Indy’s influence showed up most dramatically on the Keeneland September sale results. As the sale drew to its conclusion this week, A.P. Indy’s grandson Tapit was leading all sires by gross with more than $11 million to his credit, and Malibu Moon and Bernardini were also among the auction’s top-grossing sires. In addition to A.P. Indy’s own high-priced yearlings this year, he also appeared close up in the pedigrees of numerous other expensive sellers. They included a $1.1 million Empire Maker colt out of A.P. Indy’s daughter Lu Ravi; a $1.55 million Bernardini-Wilshewed colt; and another Empire Maker colt, this one out of the A.P. Indy mare Inda, that brought $625,000.

When A.P. Indy’s last Keeneland yearling, the $200,000 daughter of Mo Cuishle, left the auction ring Sept. 13, it understandably was a poignant occasion for Keeneland sale officials. But clearly, the torch already had passed and was still burning brightly.