11/08/2017 5:10PM

Keeneland November: Book 1 average, median improve

Keeneland photo
Champion Stellar Wind was a $6 million purchase at Keeneland November, which finished its Book 1 portion with gains in average and median and an improved buyback rate.

The select first book of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale extended a run of gains in high-end marketplaces in 2017, posting improved average and median sale prices, led by the $6-million champion Stellar Wind.

The auction’s first two sessions that comprised Book 1 closed with 201 horses sold for revenues of $83,996,000. The gross was down 18 percent from last year’s two-day first book, when 253 offerings brought $102,919,000. Gross figures faced an uphill battle, with 91 fewer horses offered compared with Book 1 of 2016.

“I think the expectations were achieved,” Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales operations, said. “We’d like to have more horses in Book 1, obviously. That’s our goal, and that’s what we’ll work on. We’ll continue on into next week.

“There is a certain kind of quality or percentage of the market that deserves to be in Book 1,” he continued. “You don’t want to put lesser likes to try and [bolster the numbers], so our goal is to try and start the sale off with higher-end horses, and our job is to go out and get some more.”

Book 1’s average sale price rose 3 percent to $417,891 from $406,794, while the median jumped 15 percent to $300,000 from $260,000. The buyback rate for the first two sessions finished at 24 percent, compared with 29 percent during last year’s comparable sessions.

At the top of the market, four horses sold for $2 million or more, compared with six during last year’s Book 1. Total seven-figure transactions dropped slightly to 17 from 18, while horses sold for $500,000 or more declined to 47 from 64.

"It continues to be selective,” said consignor Headley Bell of Mill Ridge Farm. “You've got to have everything just right to get that big number. But it's been very bouyant, there's a lot of energy. There are plenty of people who haven't bought [yet] who want to buy. They're specific with what they're looking for." 

The Coolmore partnership bought champion Stellar Wind, offered as a racing or broodmare prospect, for $6 million in the opening session to top Book 1. The mare will be bred to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, who is based at at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky, for her first season as a broodmare. The young stallion’s first foals are weanlings of 2017.

"We came out here early before the Breeders' Cup and got a look at a lot of the American Pharoah foals,” Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier said. “They've really impressed us. The reaction to them has been quite amazing. Speaking to all the lads, we're going to send her to American Pharoah."

Tuesday's transaction tied Stellar Wind for the fifth-highest price in history among broodmare prospects sold at North American public auction who have never carried a foal, including horses in training offered as racing or broodmare prospects. Her price matched champion Take Charge Brandi, who sold to Hill 'n' Dale Farm at the 2015 Keeneland November sale. Stellar Wind and Take Charge Brandi are also tied for the third-highest price in the category in Keeneland November history.

Stellar Wind finished her on-track career with 10 wins in 16 starts for earnings of $2,253,200. She scored six Grade 1 victories, taking the Apple Blossom Handicap, Santa Anita Oaks, Beholder Mile, Zenyatta Stakes, and two editions of the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes. She finished second in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Distaff, and was named champion 3-year-old filly that season.

Stellar Wind was owned by Hronis Racing and trained by John Sadler. Lane’s End consigned her, as agent.

Bred in Virginia by Keswick Stables and Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Stellar Wind is the lone runner out of the winning Malibu Moon mare Evening Star, from the immediate family of Grade 1 winners Mor Spirit and Great Hunter. She shares an extended family with champion Tepin, who Coolmore purchased for $8 million at Monday night’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale.

The top weanling of Book 1 came late in Wednesday’s session, when a half brother to Grade 1 winner and second-leading freshman sire Violence sold to Andre Lynch, acting as agent for an unnamed partnership, for $1 million.

The Curlin colt is out of the winning Gone West mare Violent Beauty, whose three foals to race are all winners. His third dam is the champion Sky Beauty, with an extended family that includes champions Dayjur, Gold Beauty, and Quasar, Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Pleasant Home, and Grade 1 winners Maplejinsky, Pine Island, Point of Entry, and Tale of Ekati

“We’ll race him,” Lynch said. “He was the best foal of the sale, a great mover, he had everything. We loved his pedigree. We hope he runs.”

The colt was bred in Kentucky by the partnership of Dell Ridge Farm and John G. Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale. The latter consigned the colt, as agent.

Furthering the ties to Sikura’s operation, Violence stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale, as does Curlin, who relocated to the farm for the 2016 breeding season. The stallion was represented by both the top mare of Book 1 in Stellar Wind as well as the top weanling to finish as the segment’s leading sire by gross.

“Curlin’s had a fantastic year,” Sikura said. “That’s the kind of money those horses make. I thought he’d make more, but I’m very pleased. I’m thrilled that we sold another million-dollar foal.

“He’s the kind of horse that, with any racing ability, has a huge upside [as a stallion prospect],” Sikura continued. “It’s a lot of money, but I think he had great value. He’s a magnificent horse.”

The colt sold Wednesday became the most expensive foal out of Violent Beauty to sell at public auction, surpassing Wild Mint, who sold as a weanling for $850,000 at the 2014 Keeneland November sale.

The top covering sire of Book 1 by gross was Darley’s Medaglia d’Oro, who had nine mares carrying foals to his cover sell for a combined $7,910,000. His most expensive in this segment was Street Fancy, a Grade 1-winning Street Sense mare who went to Bridlewood Farm for $1.5 million. Gainesway resident Tapit was the leading covering sire of Book 1 by average among those with three or more pregnant mares sold, with three mares averaging $895,000. Oscar Party, a Grade 2-placed stakes-winning Dixie Union mare was his most expensive offering, going to Alpha Delta Stables for $1.9 million. Oscar Party helped Dixie Union finish as Book 1’s leading sire by average price among those with three or more sold, finishing at $1,062,500.

Taylor Made Sales Agency, which consigned Oscar Party, was the first book’s leading consignor by gross, with 30 horses sold for $11,899,000. Oscar Party was the operation’s most expensive offering.

M.V. Magnier of the Coolmore partnership was the leading buyer of Book 1, based on the lone $6-million purchase of Stellar Wind.

Wednesday’s second Book 1 session continued the trend set on Tuesday of lower bulk figures, but mild gains in the average and median returns.

The day’s trade saw 105 horses change hands for $41,692,000, down 21 percent from last year’s second session, when 138 horses brought $52,764,000. The average sale price was up 4 percent to $397,067 from $382,348, the median rose 10 percent to $285,000 from $260,000, and the buyback rate closed at 22 percent compared with 25 percent in last year’s comparable session.

 “I think today was very solid again,” Russell said. “The numbers at the top end were very good.”

Jane Lyon of Summer Wind Equine set out to land proven broodmares at this year’s Keeneland November sale, and found one in Wednesday’s session topper, the $2.1-million For Royalty.

For Royalty, a 10-year-old Not For Love mare, is the dam of four winners from as many runners, and they are all black type earners. In addition to Grade 1 winner Constellation, who sold for $800,000 as a 2-year-old, she's had stakes-placed Back Flip, Upper Room, and Queen Mum. She was offered in foal to Bernardini.

“She was probably our top pick,” Lyon said. "The pedigree, and the fact that as a relatively young mare she has multiple stakes horses and possibilities, you don't see that often, so we're pretty excited."

The mare was previously owned by WinStar Farm, which bought her as a broodmare prospect for $87,000 at the 2010 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. She retired with two wins in nine starts for earnings of $93,354, highlighted by a win in the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies Stakes.

Bred in Maryland by Mr. & Mrs. Charlie McGinness, For Royalty is out of the stakes-winning Irish Open mare Taft Lil Queen, and is a sibling to Grade 2 winner Kiss to Remember and Puerto Rican champion El Viento. The extended family includes Grade 1 winners Spun Sugar and Daaher.

Denali Stud consigned For Royalty, as agent.

"We do our appraisals, and coming in here, we were hoping she was $1.5 million to $2 million,” said Craig Bandoroff of Denali Stud. “It doesn't always happen, but that's kind of in our mind where we thought her value was.”

Book 2 of the Keeneland November sale begins Thursday, and the auction continues daily through Nov. 18, beginning each day at 10 a.m. Eastern.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.

-- additional reporting by Nicole Russo

Keeneland November Book 1 results

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2017 201 $83,996,000 (-18%) $417,891 (+3%) $300,000 (+15%) 24%
2016 253 $102,919,000 $406,794 $260,000 29%

Keeneland November Book 1, top five mares

Price Horse Buyer Consignor
$6,000,000 Stellar Wind - racing/broodmare prospect by Curlin M.V. Magnier Lane's End, agent
$2,300,000 Cathryn Sophia - broodmare by Street Boss, in foal to Pioneerof the Nile Bridlewood Farm/Don Alberto Bedouin Bloodstock, agent
$2,100,000 For Royalty - broodmare by Not For Love, in foal to Bernardini Summer Wind Equine Denali Stud, agent
$2,000,000 Enchanted Rock - broodmare by Giant's Causeway, in foal to More Than Ready White Birch Farm Gainesway, agent
$1,900,000 Oscar Party - broodmare by Dixie Union, in foal to Tapit Reynolds Bell for Alpha Delta Stables Taylor Made Sales, agent

Keeneland November Book 1, top five weanlings

Price Pedigree Buyer Consignor
$1,000,000 colt by Curlin - Violent Beauty, by Gone West Andre Lynch, agent Hill 'n' Dale Sales, agent
$775,000 filly by Tapit - My Conquestadory, by Artie Schiller Baccari Bloodstock Bedouin Bloodstock, agent
$675,000 filly by Tapit - Mushka, by Empire Maker Skara Glen Stables/Bluewater, agent Hill 'n' Dale Sales, agent
$500,000 filly by American Pharoah - Life At Ten, by Malibu Moon Blue Sky Stables Adena Springs
$500,000 filly by Speightstown - Wonderful, by Galileo Shadwell Estate Company Denali Stud, agent

Top broodmare prospects sold in North America

Includes mares sold as broodmare prospects, and horses in training sold as racing/broodmare prospects

Price Horse Buyer Sale
$10,000,000 Havre de Grace Whisper Hill Farm Fasig-Tipton November, 2012
$9,500,000 Songbird Whisper Hill Farm Fasig-Tipton November, 2017
$9,000,000 Ashado John Ferguson Keeneland November, 2005
$8,500,000 Royal Delta Besilu Farm Keeneland November, 2011
$6,000,000 Take Charge Brandi Hill 'n' Dale Farm Keeneland November, 2015
$6,000,000 Stellar Wind M.V. Magnier Keeneland November, 2017
$5,750,000 Round Pond John Ferguson Fasig-Tipton November, 2007
$5,700,000 Stardom Bound IEAH Stables Fasig-Tipton November, 2008
$5,400,000 Lady's Secret Fasig-Tipton Bloodstock Fasig-Tipton November, 1987
$5,000,000 Riskaverse Eaton Sales Fasig-Tipton November, 2005