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Fasig-Tipton sale: Havre de Grace sells to Mandy Pope for $10 million
By Joe Nevills
Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace continued to make her mark on the Thoroughbred industry Monday when she became the highest-priced horse to sell at a public auction in 2012, going to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $10 million.
As befitting her place in the sport, it was the highest price ever for a broodmare prospect sold at public auction, eclipsing the $9 million price for Ashado in 2005.
The crowd buzzed as the mare entered the auction ring, after the lights were brought down and a video played lauding Havre de Grace’s accomplishments. The crowd swooned once again when the bidding reached eight digits.
“Obviously, she was absolutely gorgeous,” Pope said. “You look at her, and she’s everything a racehorse could be. She did everything a racehorse could do. She had a wonderful attitude. She was very sweet. She just about put her head in my lap when I went out to see her. She liked reading the catalog pages.”
Pope said Havre de Grace will be bred, and her offspring would be sold for the short-term to help recoup the investment. The Citra, Fla.-based owner and breeder had valued the 5-year-old Saint Liam mare between $6 million and $8 million, but said the opportunity to purchase the reigning Horse of the Year made the extra cost worth it.
“This was more than I thought she’d bring, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime shot,” Pope said. “I’m taking a shot at it, and we’ll see what happens. I just hope she knows what she’s worth and she has nice babies.”
While Pope had a short list of sires in mind for Havre de Grace, she said there was still plenty of time to make a decision on the first mating.
“She’s the epitome of what we’re trying to breed as far as conformation and racing ability, and hopefully she’ll pass that on to her foals,” Pope said.
Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, Havre de Grace was offered as a broodmare prospect by owner Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm.
“It’s always hard when you’ve got a horse like that and you spend so much time watching her perform the way she did,” Porter said. “It was hard when I went over to say goodbye to her this morning, but it’s exciting that she brought what she deserved, because she’s got the whole package, and I’m really glad Mandy ended up buying the horse. I think she loves the horse as much as we do.”
Havre de Grace became just the second reigning Horse of the Year to sell at public auction, joining Lady's Secret, who brought $5.4 million at the 1987 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall mixed sale.
A member of the only crop of 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, Havre de Grace won six graded stakes races during her career, including three Grade 1 events in 2011 – the Apple Blossom Handicap, Woodward Stakes, and Beldame Invitational Stakes. She joined 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra as just the second female to win the Woodward.
In January, Havre de Grace was named the ninth female winner of Horse of the Year, and the sixth since the advent of the modern Eclipse Awards in 1971 – joining Twilight Tear (1944), Busher (1945), Moccasin (1965), All Along (1983), Lady's Secret (1986), Azeri (2002), Rachel Alexandra (2009), and Zenyatta (2010).
Havre de Grace won her only start of 2012, the New Orleans Ladies Stakes in March, before a ligament injury in an ankle, detected the following month, ended her racing career. She retired with 9 wins in 16 starts and earnings of $2,586,175.
Porter purchased Havre de Grace for $380,000 from the Mill Ridge Sales, agent, consignment at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale.
The mare is out of the Carson City mare Easter Bunnette, dam of three winners from four foals to race. It is the family of Grade 1 winners Riskaverse, Plugged Nickle, and Christiecat.
Congratulations to Whisper Hill and thanks for keeping the mare here. I was a fan of St. Liam and so am pleased to see the fabulous Grace create such excitement. What a race horse and I hope she meets expectations. It is fitting she brought the price.
Its the Sport of Kings, isn't it? Back in the day, this story would have led SportsCenter. Wish we could go back in time as horse racing fans.
A very classy mare. She comes from a line of grade 1 winners so if bred to the right stud she should produce some nice horses but you never know. They'll probably go for one of the big name stallions like Tapit, Bernardini, Giants Causaway. Too bad Empire Maker isn't here that would've been one royally bred horse. Happy life Havre De Grace