11/04/2015 8:02PM

Juvenile Tapit filly sells for $1.15 million at Keeneland

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With continued strength at the top of the market, led by a seven-figure filly, Keeneland’s November sale continued to post gains as it moved into Book 2 on Wednesday.

Coming off double-digit gains for the two-day Book 1 portion, Wednesday’s session saw 229 horses sold for gross receipts of $30,788,000, a boost of 4 percent from last year's corresponding third session, where 271 horses brought $29,701,000. Wednesday's average price of $134,445 and median of $100,000 were gains of 23 percent and 18 percent from $109,598 and $85,000 in 2014.

“Today’s sale was excellent,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “Foals sold very, very well, mares sold good, and obviously, prime 2-year-old prospects also sold very, very well.”

The buyback rate was 27 percent on Wednesday, up from 20 percent in the corresponding session last year.

Twelve horses each sold for $300,000 or more, up from the 10 to do so in last year’s third session. Leading the way was the unraced 2-year-old filly Royal Obsession, who sold for $1.15 million to Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables. She became the first horse to sell for seven figures in Book 2 since 2011; by comparison, last year’s Book 2 topper, a War Front weanling, brought $850,000.

Royal Obsession was consigned by Three Chimneys Farm as the agent for the complete dispersal of Nat Rea’s Regis Farms. Rea entered the Thoroughbred marketplace in 2012 and quickly made an impact in the commercial arena, purchasing several high-dollar offerings. However, in September, he announced his decision to disperse his Thoroughbred stock and switch business focuses.

Royal Obsession, whom Rea purchased for $1 million as a yearling, became the second seven-figure offering of his Keeneland November dispersal, joining Kentucky Oaks runner-up Shook Up, purchased for $1.65 million by Three Chimneys during Book 1.

Royal Obsession has been working steadily at Churchill Downs for trainer Steve Asmussen, most recently breezing five furlongs in 1:00.60 last Friday. Banke said that Asmussen, among the trainers for Stonestreet, advised her on the purchase of the Tapit filly. 

“One of our favorite trainers, Steve and [assistant Scott Blasi], say that she’s doing really well and she should run momentarily,” Banke said. “She had a very good work recently, and she has good breeding, so she’s a perfect Stonestreet addition.”

Royal Obsession is out of the winning Tiznow mare Rote, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Magnificent Song, Group 2-placed Great Barrier Reef, and Group 3-placed Park Avenue.

The weanling market, which created fireworks during Book 1, continued to show strength in the auction’s transition, as the youngsters garnered three of Wednesday’s top 11 prices. That group was led by a $370,000 colt by leading freshman sire Uncle Mo, sold to Copper River Farm. He was consigned by Summerfield as agent for Parrish Hill Farm.

The colt is out of the winning Hennessy mare Gypsy Sage, and stakes performers in the immediate family include Grade 1-placed Normandy Invasion.

“I think the foal market is very strong. We’ve seen some very good prices for foals,” Russell said. “Good things should be expensive. If you’re being so selective, you’re going to have to stretch to buy what you want. These people are very specific in what they want.”

The sale continues with daily sessions beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern through Nov. 13.

For complete sale results, click here.