01/08/2013 12:54PM

Keeneland January sale: Grade 3 winner Keertana sells for $1 million

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Multiple Grade 3 winner Keertana sold for $1 million on Tuesday at the Keeneland January sale

Multiple Grade 3 winner Keertana became the second horse to reach seven figures at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale, selling to Denali Stud, as agent for an unnamed domestic client, for $1 million.

The 7-year-old Johar mare was a winner of 11 of 29 career starts over five seasons of racing for earnings of $1,031,938. She won six stakes races over her career, with five of them coming in Grade 3 company. Keertana was also involved in a three-horse blanket finish in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, where she finished third behind Shared Account and Midday.

“She’s big, she’s pretty,” said Craig Bandoroff of Denali Stud, who signed the ticket. “It’s not a strong, strong family, but it’s a family that can run. She could run, her sister can run, so she ticked two of the three boxes, and hopefully she’ll throw it on.”

Keertana was cataloged in foal to Arch, but she lost her foal in December due to an umbilical cord issue. Bandoroff speculated that the incident might have helped keep the mare within his client’s price range, but noted that mishaps are all part of the breeding business.

“I thought she’d be more expensive based on the way these horses have been selling,” he said. “That was my last bid. I didn’t expect to get her, really.”

Bandoroff said there were no immediate plans for where Keertana might be sent for the 2013 breeding season, but suggested that a horse like Tapit might be a good fit.

Keertana was bred in Kentucky by Barbara Hunter of Brownwood Farm, who raced the mare as a homebred. Hunter died in November after a long illness, prompting the sale of five mares and yearlings from her breeding program in the January sale, including Keertana and her half sister, Grade 3 winner Snow Top Mountain, who was to go through the ring later on Tuesday. The Brownwood sale horses are being consigned by Four Star Sales, agent.

“Honestly, you would always hope you would make these kind of figures, but you have to be realistic, conservative,” said Tony Lacy of Four Star Sales, also an equine consultant at Brownwood Farm. “When [Keertana] aborted in December, we were really gutted and thought that would take away from the premium price, but she’s still unique as a broodmare prospect. It’s a family that’s never really been sold. It’s an heirloom of Barbara’s. It’s a credit to Barbara and her legacy. I’m very proud for her.”

Keertana is out of the Storm Cat mare Motokiks, who has produced five winners from seven to race, with herself and Snow Top Mountain by far the most successful. This is the first time that Keertana has sold at public auction, and she easily established herself as the highest-priced foal out of her dam, though Snow Top Mountain could challenge that figure later in the session.