01/09/2018 7:40PM

Keeneland January: Pair of seven-figure purchases power Book 1 finale

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A colt from the first crop of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah sold for $1 million to Coolmore to rank among the top yearling prices all time at Keeneland January.

The Keeneland January horses of all ages sale finished Book 1 with momentum, as Tuesday's session was spiked by a pair of seven-figure horses to help the auction reach its halfway point with across-the-board gains.

A total of 415 horses sold over the two sessions of Book 1 for revenues of $28,302,000, marking a 31 percent increase from last year’s Book 1 gross of $21,573,000. The gross after two sessions is already approaching the final total of $28,785,500 from last year’s five-day auction, and has already surpassed the final revenues from the Keeneland January sales of 2010 ($23.8 million) and 2011 ($25.2 million).

The average sale price for Book 1 rose 21 percent to $68,198 from $56,181, while the median grew 23 percent to $37,000 from $30,000. The buyback rate for the auction’s first book finished at 32 percent compared with 34 percent last year.

This year marks the first edition of the Keeneland January sale to produce multiple seven-figure transactions since 2013, when three horses reached that point. Last year’s sale produced one horse to surpass the million-dollar mark.

“I think it shows a continuation of what started in September, the great enthusiasm in the market, great desire to own horses at the moment,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales operations. “Selling two million-dollar horses in January shows the strength of the market at the moment.”

The number of horses to meet or exceed the $400,000 threshold grew to six from five compared to 2017, while transactions of $250,000 or more rose to 20 from 11. Overall six-figure purchases grew to 88 from 57.

The highest final bid of Book 1 came from on final horse through the ring on Tuesday, when bloodstock agent Steven Young bought Grade 2 winner Mrs McDougal for $1.6 million on behalf of an undisclosed client. She was the most expensive horse sold at the Keeneland January sale since Irish Group 2 winner Up sold for $2.2 million at the 2015 renewal.

The 6-year-old broodmare prospect by Medaglia d'Oro won 5 of 15 starts during her on-track career, highlighted by wins in the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga in 2015 and the Grade 3 Noble Damsel Stakes at Belmont and the listed Plenty of Grace Stakes at Aqueduct in 2016. Her three other stakes placings were highlighted by a third-place effort in the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes at Belmont in 2016. 
Mrs McDougal, who was originally trained by Chad Brown for Mr. and Mrs. William Warren, was privately sold following her stakes successes, and raced last year for 2 TY LLC and trainer Richard Mandella. Returning from a 10-month layoff, she placed once in four stakes starts. 

“She is a terrific filly who earlier in her career was arguably the best 3-year-old filly in America when she won at Saratoga,” Young said. “She trained tremendous on the dirt for Mandella after he got her, and I think she’s got unlimited potential as a broodmare.”

Bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones, Mrs McDougal is the lone winner from four starters out of the Distorted Humor mare Distorted Passion, a Grade 2-placed multiple stakes winner. Distorted Passion, out of stakes winner Arianna's Passion, is a full sister to Grade 2 winner Warbling.

Eaton Sales consigned Mrs McDougal, as agent.

Mrs McDougal was offered as a supplemental entry to the Keeneland January catalog. Late additions are a rarity at Keeneland’s sales, but Russell said the mare’s resume made her a welcome addition, and the hammer price justified the decision.

“It’s a feel thing,” he said. “We look for graded stakes horses. It’s kind of a thing in the auction market at the moment – wild cards, supplemental entries, whatever you want to call them. This time of year, with our November sale ending, and then the January sale, you can get lucky and get a mare like that. When Reiley [McDonald of Eaton Sales], called and asked if we could get her in, I was happy to accommodate.”

The top newly-turned yearling of Book 1 also sold on Tuesday, when M.V. Magnier of the Coolmore partnership bid by proxy on an American Pharoah colt, going to $1 million.

He was the third-most expensive yearling colt, and the sixth-highest-priced yearling overall, in Keeneland January history. He became the second seven-figure foal from American Pharoah’s first crop, after a weanling filly out of Untouched Talent sold to Narvick International for a record-tying $1 million at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale.

The gray or roan colt is out of the stakes-winning Holy Bull mare Mekko Hokte, whose five winners from six runners include Irish Group 1 winner Caravaggio and Grade 2 winner My Jen. The extended family includes Grade 3 winner Sharp Performance.

“American Pharoah doesn't need any explaining, and Aidan O'Brien always believed Caravaggio to be the best sprinter he ever trained, so when our team considered this colt the best individual in the sale, it was an easy decision for us to make," Magnier, who is attending the Magic Millions sales in Australia this week, said in a statement distributed to the press.

Magnier added that a decision on where to train and campaign the new purchase would be made at a later time.

The seven-figure colt was bred in Kentucky by the Windmill Manor Farm of Richard Imbert and the Petaluma Bloodstock of Charlie O'Connor, Coolmore America's director of sales and Imbert's son-in-law. Coolmore also raced and stands Caravaggio, and the global operation stands American Pharoah at its Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky. Coolmore’s Richard Henry signed the ticket in Keeneland’s back ring on Tuesday.

Paramount Sales consigned the colt, as agent for the breeders.

"There's not a better pedigree in the book,” said Gabriel Duignan of Paramount Sales.“We all know who Caravaggio is, we all know who his dad is. It was good, spirited bidding. I think David Ingordo was right under it. It was a fair price."

:: DRF BREEDING LIVE: More in-depth coverage of Keeneland January ::

The leading covering sire of Book 1 by gross was Union Rags, who had three pregnant mares sell for a combined $730,000. The Lane’s End resident’s top broodmare was Charm City Girl, by Pioneerof the Nile, who sold to Larkin Armstrong, as agent, for $350,000.

Union Rags was also the top covering sire by average among those with three or more mares sold, at $243,333.

Taylor Made Sales Agency was the first book’s leading consignor by gross, with 31 horses sold for $2,786,500. Leading the way was Motown Lady, a Grade 1-placed racing or broodmare prospect by Uncle Mo who went to Town and Country Horse Farms for $340,000.

Young was the leading buyer of the first two sessions, with two purchases totaling $2,085,000.

Tuesday’s Book 1 finale wrapped with 229 horses sold for $15,036,900, up 36 percent from last year’s second day of trade when 221 horses changed hands for $11,059,600. The average sale price rose 31 percent to $65,663 from $50,043, and the median went unchanged at $25,000. The buyback rate finished at 26 percent, compared with last year’s second-session figure of 29 percent

Horses sold for $400,000 or more during the second session doubled from two to four Transactions to meet or surpass the $250,000 milepost rose to eight from seven, while total six-figure sales grew to 44 from 27.

Eaton Sales was Tuesday’s leading consignor, with five horses sold for $2,465,000. Young led all buyers with the sole purchase of the $1.6-million session-topper.

Book 2 of the Keeneland January sale commences on Wednesday, and the auction closes on Thursday. Both sessions begin at 10 a.m. Eastern.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.

-- additional reporting by Nicole Russo

Keeneland January Book 1 results

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2018 415 (+8%) $28,302,000 (+31%) $68,198 (21%) $37,000 (+23%) 32%
2017 384 $21,573,600 $56,181 $30,000 34%

Keeneland January Book 1, top five prices

Price Horse Buyer Consignor
$1,600,000 Mrs McDougal (broodmare prospect by Medaglia d'Oro - Distorted Passion, by Distorted Humor) Steven Young, agent Eaton Sales, agent
$1,000,000 colt by American Pharoah - Mekko Hokte, by Holy Bull M.V. Magnier Paramount Sales, agent
$485,000 Bellavais (racing/broodmare prospect by Tapit - La Cloche, by Ghostzapper) Steven Young, agent Darby Dan Farm
$450,000 Banree (broodmare prospect by Macho Uno - Grand Glory, by Distorted Humor) Andre Lynch, agent Eaton Sales, agent
$425,000 Spring Eclipse (broodmare by Unbridled's Song - Coragil, by Metfield), in foal to Gemologist Green Leaf Farm Shawhan Place, agent