11/15/2012 12:29PM

Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton mixed sales dominated by foreign buyers

Barbara D. Livingston
Switch, purchased for $4.3 million by Moyglare Stud Farm, was one of the 10 highest-priced horses at Fasig-Tipton.

The Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland November breeding stock results reveal that Kentucky’s most important mixed sales remain a truly global marketplace, especially for higher-quality stock. International agents say this year’s bullish foreign buying has a lot to do with their strength of currency and a continuing deep respect for U.S. bloodlines, even as overseas racing authorities have urged stricter U.S. medication policies for race day.

The total international expenditure has been remarkably strong this year. At Fasig-Tipton Kentucky on Nov. 5, international buyers spent at least $31 million, slightly more than half of the one-night sale’s $60,220,000 gross. The percentage of foreign participation was lower through book three (Sunday, Nov. 11) at Keeneland but still notable, as identifiable foreign-based buyers spent at least $35.5 million, or about 29 percent of the first three books’ $124.5 million total.

Six of the top 10 buyers (by total expenditure through Monday) at the Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland November auctions were based overseas. At Fasig-Tipton, those six collectively spent $27,445,000 for 14 horses and occupied six of the next eight spots under leading buyer Mandy Pope, who spent $10 million for a single horse, reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace. The top-10 list through Keeneland’s first week (through book three) also featured six overseas interests, including four that had been prominent at Fasig-Tipton: Katsumi Yoshida, Shadai Farm, Mandore International, and Borges Torrealba. At Keeneland, the “big six” spent a total of $24,342,000 for 27 horses. Most of their purchases were mares, with the notable exception of Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum’s Shadwell operation, which bought weanlings exclusively.

The strength of foreign breeders and owners is evident at the top of the market. Foreign purchasers bought seven of the 10 highest-priced horses at Fasig-Tipton, including Switch, purchased for $4.3 million by Moyglare Stud Farm, and Zagora, purchased for $2.5 million by Mandore International. They also bought seven of the top eight at Keeneland through Sunday, including Pure Clan, whom Borges Torrealba purchased for $4.5 million.

Some of the foreign-bought horses might stay in the States. Shadwell and Coolmore, led by buyer M.V. Magnier’s father, John, have large bloodstock holdings here, and Torrealba’s Goncalo Torrealba said he is building up a U.S. breeding and racing operation for his family. But the overall message is clear: U.S. breeding stock – especially top-quality mares and broodmare prospects – draws buyers from around the globe. It’s a timely reminder that, despite controversy over America’s relatively liberal medication rules and the use of leg-straightening surgeries for young stock, U.S. bloodlines are highly desirable to international breeders.

“If you look at the racehorses in Europe, the best 2-year-olds in Europe are from American mares,” said Benoit Jeffroy of Nicolas de Watrigant’s Mandore International Agency, which was Keeneland’s leading buyer after the first week with $10,235,000 for five horses. The agency, whose recent clients have included Joaan al-Thani of Qatar’s royal family, also bought two mares for $4,025,000 at Fasig-Tipton. Jeffroy noted that American mares’ pedigrees provide a valuable source of outcrossing for areas where Danehill- and Sadler’s Wells-line sires dominate.

“We do read about the drugs,” Jeffroy added. “But as I said, there are too many good racehorses from American bloodlines, so we don’t brush them off, we look at them.”

“When you see these magnificent racemares that have run 15 or 20 times and won X number of graded stakes, I don’t care what you give them − there’s nothing known to man that you can give them that will make them do that if they’re not fit to do it in the first place,” said English buying agent James Delahooke, who represents clients in both North America and overseas.

“There’s much more of an issue with surgical procedures, with vets getting way over-involved with foals and yearlings and doing a lot of procedures on them to make them ‘saleable,’ ” he said. “The perception, rightly or wrongly, is that there are an awful lot of unnecessary surgeries being performed on horses that, if Mother Nature were left to take her course − and Mother Nature is a very clever girl, much cleverer than any vet − the horses would have come right anyway.”

But cosmetic surgeries, while still a source of concern for British and European buyers in particular, are less of a factor for breeding stock than for yearlings, even though breeders might understandably be concerned that a mare who was cosmetically straightened when young will produce a crooked foal, Delahooke said.

“If the horses have come through it and raced successfully, then it’s not a concern,” he said. “The concern is how many are coming through it. Any time you buy a mare, it’s a possibility her foal will be crooked, and, by the way, there are a lot of good, crooked racehorses. Crooked is only a crime in the sale ring – it’s not a crime on the racecourse.”

Japanese buyers, led by Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm and Teruya Yoshida’s Shadai Farm, kicked their spending up a notch from last year. Together, the highly selective Yoshida brothers spent more than $15.3 million for 14 horses at both sales. Other Japanese interests also cherry-picked stock in November. Those included J S Company, Heatherway, and the less-familiar KI Farm, owned by Tomoyuki Nakamura, which grabbed headlines at Keeneland with its $800,000 winning bid for the unraced Giant’s Causeway-Heavenly Prize mare Gracious Gift, in foal to Distorted Humor.

New York-based bloodstock agent John McCormack, who has a global clientele, said a favorable exchange rate is spurring high-end spending by Japanese and other buyers.

“There are a lot of factors that play into the Keeneland market, and currency is one of them,” said McCormack, pointing out that the U.S. dollar currently is worth about 79 yen and the Australian dollar is almost level with the U.S. dollar. “Those are very strong factors in why people from those countries would want to buy, and that’s very favorable. If you’re looking to buy a good racemare, if your currency is strong, you’re at an advantage.

“The Japanese groups don’t usually come to Keeneland September, nor do they come to Tattersalls October book one en masse,” McCormack said, referring to two major yearling sales that draw buyers from around the world. “But they do like to buy mares, and that’s not a new thing. They also get support from the JRA” – the government-supported Japan Racing Association – “in terms of helping with shipping for a good mare. The mare has to qualify. So there are many reasons why Japanese buyers would want to come to this market. If they buy an in-foal mare, they’re getting a Japanese-bred foal next season when they take the mare back to Japan, and that’s important to them. From a commercial aspect, they’re putting their own fingerprints on the potential racehorse prospect that they can sell. And, if they’re going to race it, it’s ready to go. If they buy a yearling, it’s not Japanese-bred. So the big interest is for mares. And Japanese farms are like other farms around the world: They want to upgrade, they want to inject a different line to their breed.”

Regarding the November sales’ major product, mares, McCormack pointed out that American broodmare and broodmare prospect pedigrees appeal to a wide group of foreign buyers.

“The November breeding stock sales, the mares are the factories, and a lot of people around the world are looking for those types of mares,” he said. “The American mare can help to inject quite a lot of speed into certain families with the view to European and Japanese families. A lot of their prize money is for longer distances, and the American mare can offer quite a bit more speed to their families.”

International buying isn’t limited to the higher-end horses. After a decade of aggressive marketing by both Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton to racing and breeding’s emerging markets, their sales have seen foreign buyers for more middle-class stock, too. Among the most obvious players at that level are South American, Russian, and Korean interests. Although that activity is more common at yearling sales, Keeneland sales associate Will Mayer says buyers from those regions do bid at mixed sales. “It’s from mares that cost $2,000 to over $100,000,” Mayer said.

Overall, Mayer said, it’s been a good season for foreign purchasing. “There’s a lot of depth to the market,” Mayer said, “and that’s encouraging.”

2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky selected fall mixed sale


Buyer No. purchased Total
Katsumi Yoshida 5 $5,770,000
Shadai Farm 3 5,500,000
M.V. Magnier 1 5,000,000
Moyglare Stud Farm 1 4,300,000
Mandore International 2 4,025,000
Borges Torrealba Holdings 2 2,850,000
Steve Brem, agent 1 775,000
Waratah Thoroughbreds 1 620,000
Blandford Bloodstock 2 520,000
J S Company Ltd. 1 515,000

1. $5,000,000 UNTOUCHED TALENT, m, 8

by Storm Cat—Parade Queen, by A.P. Indy. (Unbridled’s Song)
{Brookdale Sales, agent for Audley Farm Equine} M. V. Magnier

2. $4,300,000 SWITCH, m, 5
by Quiet American—Antoniette, by Nicholas.
{Lane’s End, agent} Moyglare Stud Farm

3. $2,500,000 ZAGORA, m, 5
by Green Tune—Zaneton, by Mtoto.
{Oceanic Bloodstock, agent} Mandore International Agency

4. $2,300,000 CONTESTED, f, 3
by Ghostzapper—Gold Vault, by Arch.
{Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent} Shadai Farm

5. $1,950,000 PILFER, m, 11
by Deputy Minister—Misty Hour, by Miswaki. (Bernardini)
{Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent} Borges Torrealba Holdings

6. $1,850,000 TAPITSFLY, m, 5
by Tapit—Flying Marlin, by Marlin.
{Romans Racing and Sales, agent} Katsumi Yoshida

7. $1,750,000 SANTA TERESITA, m, 8
Lemon Drop Kid—Sweet Gold, by Gilded Time. (Bernardini)
{Bluewater Sales, agent} Shadai Farm

2012 Keeneland November breeding stock sale


Buyer No. purchased Total
Mandore International 5 $10,235,000
Borges Torrealba Holdings 5 5,287,000
Shadwell Estate Co. Ltd. 7 2,370,000
Badgers Bloodstock 4 2,300,000
Katsumi Yoshida 1 2,100,000
Shadai Farm 5 2,050,000
SF Bloodstock 6 1,300,000
Blandford Bloodstock 5 1,195,000
John McCormack Bloodstock 1 800,000
KI Farm 1 800,000

Statistics through Nov. 11

1. $4,500,000 PURE CLAN, m, 7

Pure Prize—Gather The Clan, by General Assembly. (Bernardini)
{Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent} Borges Torrealba Holdings

2. $4,200,000 CHANGING SKIES, m, 7
by Sadler’s Wells—Magnificent Style, by Silver Hawk. (Street Cry)
{Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent} Mandore International Agency

3. $2,800,000 HARMONIOUS, m, 5
by Dynaformer—Jade Tree, by Storm Cat.
{Lane’s End, agent for Pam and Martin Wygod and Emily Wygod} Mandore International Agency

4. $2,100,000 ZAZU, f, 4
by Tapit--Rhumb Line, by Mr. Greeley.
{Lane’s End, agent} Katsumi Yoshida

5. $1,600,000 SHOTGUN GULCH, 5, m
by Thunder Gulch—Rosieville, by Boston Harbor. (Bernardini)
{Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent} Mandore International Agency

6. $1,250,000 NEGLIGEE, m, 5
Northern Afleet—Naughty Notions, by Relaunch. (Distorted Humor)
{Hunter Valley Farm, agent} Mandore International Agency