01/12/2017 12:46PM

Farfellow Farms makes its mark at Keeneland sale

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Kip and Suzanne Knelman have developed a longer résumé than most during three decades in the Thoroughbred industry, highlighted by breeding the winners of the Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Still, there are always new frontiers.

The Knelmans’ Farfellow Farms ventured into consigning its own foals for the first time at the Keeneland January sale of horses of all ages and held the distinction of offering the first six-figure horse of the auction, with a yearling Uncle Mo colt going to de Meric Sales, agent, on Monday for $140,000.

The colt was the only horse Farfellow Farms brought to the sale, but Kip Knelman said it was a positive first experience.

“It was a good price,” he said. “We were very happy with the sale. We thought maybe he would stand out a little bit more in January versus September.”

The Knelmans keep about 15 mares at their Paris, Ky., farm, which has brought up Anees, the champion 2-year-old male of 1999 and the winner of that year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever; Grade 1 winner Buddha; and multiple Grade 3 winner Sum of the Parts.

Farfellow Farms was a longtime client of consignor Taylor Made Sales Agency, and they enjoyed many commercial successes together. Chief among them was Juniper, a Danzig colt who sold to the Coolmore partnership as a weanling for $1.45 million at the 1998 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. However, Knelman said the time was right for a change.

“We’ve been thinking about it for a while, and my wife, Suzanne, who spends most of her time on the farm, wanted to consign,” he said. “We’ve bred some really good horses, so we thought, ‘Why not?’ Sometimes the buyer likes to buy from the breeder, who knows the horses as well as anybody.”

The Uncle Mo colt who sold Monday is a second-generation product of the Farfellow Farms breeding program and was produced by the unraced Consolidator mare Natchez Trace. Her first foal, the Majestic Warrior filly Fort Rosalie, has placed in three of five starts.

As one of the breakout sires of the past couple years, Uncle Mo’s foals have become a premium commodity on the commercial market. Knelman said he was fortunate to catch the fast-rising stallion at the right time, in his fourth season at stud, which can be a tough book to fill as breeders wait for the stallion’s first juveniles to run later that year.

Natchez Trace visited Uncle Mo in the early part of 2015 for an advertised fee of $25,000. Within a few months, the stallion’s foals would propel him to record-high earnings for a freshman sire. Uncle Mo was advertised for $75,000 the following season and stands for $150,000 in 2017.

“I think he’s one of the best sires out there, and we’re just fortunate we were able to have an opportunity to breed to him when he was relatively cheap,” Knelman said. “A great sire helps a yearling that vets out well and physically looks good. You can’t have a better sire.”

Residing primarily in Minneapolis, Knelman has worked in investment advisory for nearly four decades. He managed a $17 billion institutional pension fund as president and chief executive of Investment Advisors Inc. before retiring in 1998 and later starting his own company.

Knelman is currently a partner and director of strategy and client service for the private equity fund Geronimo Investment Partners, which focuses on renewable energy products.