07/14/2014 3:01PM

Fasig-Tipton July: Cowboy Cal colt sells for $550,000 to lead way

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By Joe Nevills and Nicole Russo

A half brother to graded stakes winners Executiveprivilege and Hoppertunity sold to Northwest Stud for $550,000 to take over as the top price at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July selected yearling sale.

The Cowboy Cal colt's price tag surpassed the top price from last year's sale, when Nat Rea's Regis Farm went to $460,000 to acquire a son of Desert Party. The colt is the most expensive yearling to sell at Fasig-Tipton's July sale since 2006, when two horses topped the half-million mark, led by a $1,200,000 Forestry colt.

“He's coming from a very nice family,” said Northwest Stud manager Alfredo Lichoa, who added that he plans to pinhook the Cowboy Cal colt as a 2-year-old next year. “He's one of the best-looking horses at the sale. He met our criteria for pinhooking. He went a little bit more than we thought, but he was one of the best horses in the sale. We'll be hoping to see him in March [at a select 2-year-old sale]. … We came here, we looked at all of the horses at the sale, and this was the only one that really met all our criteria.

The colt, bred in Kentucky by Barronstown Stud, was consigned by Hidden Brook, as agent. The colt is already a successful pinhook, as he was purchased for $145,000 by McMahon and Hill out of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale as a weanling.

“I thought he was the best horse here, and we put him here to stand out,” Mike McMahon said. “Bill Graves did a great job recruiting him/ He's been a very good horse, never had a bad day, and obviously, the update with Hoppertunity helped a lot. We were very excited that he could bring a lot of money, but you never know what they're going to bring. … We actually really liked Hoppertunity. That was the first attraction. We already knew the mare was really producing well. Hoppertunity wasn't on the page, but his physical was extraordinary. There's nothing to dislike about him physically. He's a tank. He's a big, strong, precocious, early type of horse.”

The colt’s dam, Grade 2-placed winner Refugee, is the dam of eight winners from as many starters. Her first standout was Executiveprivilege, a multiple Grade 1 winner as a juvenile who finished second to eventual champion Beholder in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Executiveprivilege is by First Samurai, who, like Cowboy Cal, is a son of Giant’s Causeway.

This spring, Refugee was represented by Hoppertunity, who won the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and finished second to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby. The colt was the second choice on the morning line for the Kentucky Derby, but was scratched due to an injury; he was to rejoin trainer Bob Baffert’s string this week.

Refugee’s second dam is Filly Triple Crown winner and champion Davona Dale; further back in the female line is Hydroplane II, the dam of 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation.

The colt is the most expensive yearling sold at public auction out of Refugee, a $480,000 purchase by Blandford Bloodstock out of the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky breeding stock sale, when she was carrying this colt. Two of her other offspring, Ronald Reagan and Executiveprivilege, sold for $700,000 and $650,000, respectively, as juveniles. The two represented profits of $530,000 and $627,000 off their yearling sale prices.

The colt also became the most expensive foal sold at public auction by Cowboy Cal, who stands at Pin Oak Stud near Versailles, Ky., for an advertised fee of $5,000 in 2014. The multiple graded stakes winner, who entered stud in 2010, brought a career average yearling price of $22,807 into Monday’s sale.

“He’s a very mature colt, good energy all day long, a good moving colt,” Hidden Brook’s Sergio de Sousa said of Monday's star. “Everyone can run in that family. I think he’s a pretty nice horse. We paid good money for him as a weanling, and we hope he’ll come over here and reward us for that. He matured well, and the people that looked at him seemed to like him. He’s a very straightforward horse, and we’re very happy with him.”