01/10/2012 9:23PM

Big gains continue at second day of Keeneland January all-ages sale

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Magnificent Honour sold in foal to Giant's Causeway.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Keeneland’s January all-ages sale continued to post dramatic gains Tuesday at its second session, where $600,000 Magnificent Honour – a daughter of former Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour and full sister to champion Rags to Riches –
was the day’s most expensive horse.

Her sale to an anonymous client of Blandford Bloodstock was one of many strong prices that, along with a smaller overall catalog, allowed the 2012 sale’s first two days to gross more than last year’s entire five-day auction.

Tuesday’s session ended with an 82 percent explosion in gross, and average price and median grew by 34 percent and 35 percent, respectively. The session sold 278 horses, up from 205 on the equivalent day last year, and grossed $16,183,100, yielding a $58,213 average and a $27,000 median.

The buyback rate fell from 25 percent last season to 16 percent.

Cumulatively, the first two sessions have sold 487 horses, up from 392 last year, despite an overall smaller auction catalog, grossing $30,115,300. That’s up 54 percent from last year. Average price gained 24 percent to hit $61,838 and median rose 50 percent to $30,000.
Cumulative buybacks also fell, from 30 percent to 21 percent.

The results came a day after Star Billing’s dam, Topliner, sold for $1.4 million, contributing to bullish increases at Monday’s opening session. Mares with good produce records are hot commodities, but Tuesday’s $600,000 session-topper was in demand mainly because of her family.

Magnificent Honour was unraced and has yet to produce a stakes-winner, but she is a daughter of 2007 Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour and a full sister to 2007’s Belmont winner and champion 3-year-old filly Rags to Riches. England-based Blandford Bloodstock agency purchased the 10-year-old A.P. Indy mare on behalf of a European-based client who intends to leave the mare in the United States for commercial breeding, according to Blandford co-owner Tom Goff. Paramount Sales agency sold the mare. It was a big day for Paramount, whose six-figure horses also included the $350,000 Tapit mare Anchorage, a stakes-placed runner in foal to Giant’s Causeway, to Stonereath Farm.

“It’s probably one of the best families in the American stud book, in my humble opinion,” Goff said after signing the $600,000 ticket. “The 2011 Tiznow is very nice. It’s a great cover and a reasonably early service, and she’s a standout on pedigree. Pricewise, put it this way: it was at the upper limit of our valuation. The market’s been bloody good here, hasn’t it?

“I’ll tell you what impresses me, is what the yearlings are making,” he added. “We’ve followed through plenty and haven’t gotten any yearlings.”

Tuesday’s most expensive yearling, sold late in the session, prompted a long bidding war that ended with a $490,000 hammer price for an Unbridled’s Song three-quarter brother to Sassy Image. The winning bidder was Fox Hill Farms representative Victoria Keith. Keith had bid unsuccessfully on a number of mares Tuesday, but walked out with a rare short yearling purchase for Fox Hill owner Rick Porter. Keith, with her cell phone to her ear, had bid repeatedly on mares, but found that tough sledding.

“He really wanted to buy him,” Keith said of Fox Hill owner Rick Porter. Keith said options are open for the gray or roan colt, either to sell later or to race, a decision Fox Hill will make as the colt matures.

In the meantime, the Kentucky-bred colt’s price gave California breeders Judith and Barry  Becker their best-ever price at auction.

Fox Hill was able to nab a racing or broodmare prospect less than a half-hour later, paying $270,000 for Grade 3 winner Just Louise, a 4-year-old by Five Star Day. The Gainesway agent consigned the half-sister to multiple graded winner Sara Louise on Eldon Farm Racing’s behalf.

Another yearling to hit the $400,000 mark was a January filly by Empire Maker out of Grade 1 winner Ticker Tape, who sold for $400,000 to Coolmore associate and Camas Park Stud owner Tim Hyde. Hyde said the bay filly will point for resale at Keeneland’s 2012 September yearling auction.

Eaton Sales, agent, consigned the yearling, then whipped around to pay $450,000 for the Gainesway agency’s Grade 2 winner Touching Beauty, in foal to Unbridled’s Song.
Eaton Sales, as agent, bought another Gainesway-consigned mare in foal to Unbridled’s Song earlier in the session. That was $300,000 stakes-winner Parisian Affair, a daughter of Mr. Greeley. She’s already is the dam of stakes winner Crimson China.

The day’s second highest price was the $525,000 that Teruya Yoshida’s Shadai Farm paid for Cozi Rosie, a three-time graded winner. Shadai’s purchase continued something of a spree by Japanese interests who had been outpaced several times at the fiercely competitive November breeding stock auctions.

“We were happy with it,” said consignor Bill Farish of Lane’s End, which also sold the $320,000 mare Highest Class, a graded winner in foal to Candy Ride, to Coteau Grove Farms. “We thought she might do a little better than that, but that’s what the market’s dictated. She’s a big, pretty filly who still has some run left in her, and I understand that Yoshida bought her, so another one goes to Japan.”

Teruya’s brother, Katsumi Yoshida of Northern Farm, purchased the $1.4 million sale-leader, Topliner, at Monday’s opening session.

Gainesway also had a big day. Above the $300,000 mark, the agency also sold $400,000 Art Princess, a half-sister to Zazu carrying a foal by that filly’s sire, Gainesway stallion Tapit; as well as $350,000 Zealous Cat, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Pohave, also in foal to Tapit. Katsumi Yoshida bought Art Princess, and Glen Hill Farm took home Zealous Cat.

The SF Bloodstock partnership picked up three mares Tuesday. The most expensive was Dr. Zic, the auction’s only Grade 1-winning racing/broodmare prospect, who cost $375,000. Four Star Sales, agent, consigned the chestnut, winner of 2010’s Madison Stakes at Keeneland.

SF Bloodstock also picked up the dams of 2011 Hollywood Derby winner Ultimate Eagle and 2011 Hollywood Prevue winner So Brilliant for $225,000 and $200,000, respectively. Ultimate Eagle’s dam, Letithappencaptain, sold in foal to Bellamy Road and was another six-figure mare offered by Paramount’s agency. Merry Me in Spring, dam of So Brilliant, hailed from the Warrendale Sales consignment. She’s in foal to Medaglia d’Oro’s son Warrior’s Reward, and so she is carrying a three-quarters-sibling to So Brilliant.

Letithappencaptain got a huge catalog update when Ultimate Eagle won the Hollywood Derby after the catalog’s publication and became the mare’s first Grade 1-winning foal. That made all the difference, said SF Bloodstock’s Tom Ryan, adding that before then Letithappencaptain hadn’t even been on their list.

“It’s been a good sale, so far,” Ryan said. “The real quality young mares, Grade 1 producers in foal, have made fair money. A lot of them have gone to Japan, so it’s nice to keep a mare like this in America.”

Good prices at the top of January’s market didn’t surprise Magnificent Honour’s buyer, Tom Goff.

“When you have a catalog in which obvious broodmares and yearlings stand out, then we’ll all fall over each other on our way to the ring, won’t we?” he said. “The obvious ones stick out like a sore thumb. It doesn’t take a genius now.”

“Supply is down,” Lane’s End’s Farish said. “There’s just not as much good product on the market, so that’s probably why it’s been stronger.”

The sale was to continue through Thursday, with sessions beginning at 10 a.m. each day in Keeneland’s sale pavilion.