11/04/2014 2:14PM

Keeneland November: Iotapa sells for $2.8 million to China Horse Club


by Joe Nevills and Nicole Russo

Multiple Grade 1 winner Iotapa, fresh off a third-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, sold for $2.8 million to China Horse Club to take over as the top price of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale’s first session on Tuesday.

The 4-year-old Afleet Alex filly was consigned as a racing or broodmare prospect by Lane's End. Eden Harrington, the general manager of China Horse Club, said future plans for Iotapa had not been finalized, but indicated that the mare could continue to race in 2015.

"The hope is that she will race on," Harrington said. "We'll determine that once we get toward the end of the week and we see where everything sits, how we've done accumulating stock, factoring in our purchases from last night. It's exciting to try to bring a Chinese audience to the industry here in America, and we hope we're performing a positive role here in the States. ... It's hard not to like [Iotapa]. She's an exceptional race mare and a gorgeous mare. She was obviously very popular and the reasons are the same. Quality counts."

Iotapa was a $50,000 claim by Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler out of her debut victory in July 2012 at Hollywood Park. She proved a profitable find for that team, only missing the board once in 14 starts while bankrolling $1,032,796. Following an extended layoff after her debut victory, Iotapa returned to the races in 2013 to win the Railbird Stakes and place in three graded stakes events, including a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in just her third career start. 

This year, Iotapa established herself among her division’s leaders in California, romping in the Grade 1 Vanity Stakes by 10 1/4 lengths, adding a win in Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, and also taking the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes. Among her four graded stakes placings this year, she finished third behind champion Beholder in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes, and third to likely champion Untapable in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

“Everybody’s really pleased with her performance in the Breeders’ Cup,” Allaire Ryan of consignor Lane’s End said. “That was a tough stretch run and she showed some good heart in it. She’s a big, nice physical, too. A laid-back filly, nice demeanor about her. I think she’s shown herself well out there. She’s sound to go on and run if people choose to do that.”

Iotapa, one of two winners from three starters out of the winning El Corredor mare Concinnous, is a half sister to Grade 3-placed stakes winner Saintly Joan. Concinnous sold for $2 million to Bridlewood Farm at Monday night's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall mixed sale.

Iotapa's purchase represented the first major headlines made at a North American public auction by China Horse Club, which has diverse holdings internationally. The outfit owns breeding interests in English and Irish Derby winner Australia, who will begin his stud career at Coolmore's Irish base next year.

"We are a lifestyle, business, and Thoroughbred racing company," Harrington said. "The purpose is we are trying to introduce Chinese owners to elite Thoroughbred racing around the world. We have some horses in the [U.S.], and we're trying to expand our interest in this part of the world. We are looking to showcase some of the best racing around the world and give people the right kind of experiences when they come to race.

"Some of the horses we will buy this week will end up in Singapore," Harrington continued. "We'll determine which ones in due course. A mare of [Iotapa's] stature may or may not end up in Singapore, she may end up in our program in America, but the purpose very much is we are promoting the best of racing and the best lifestyle elements of what we do to our audience and our members. ... At the end of this week, we'll sit down and make the determinations as to what we have and what's best suited to go where and do what for our purposes."