11/05/2014 4:40PM

Keeneland November: Tapit filly sells for record $3 million


by Joe Nevills and Nicole Russo

A filly by leading sire Tapit has established a record price for a weanling sold at public auction in North America, selling for $3 million to Bridlewood Farm late in Wednesday's second session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

The filly was consigned by Hill 'n' Dales Sales Agency, as agent. Her price handily surpassed the $2.7 million that Globe Equine Management, Ltd., paid for Amour Malheureux at the 2006 Keeneland November sale for the previous North American record. 

"Physically, she's the the best filly on the grounds," said Bridlewood representative George Isaacs, who was signing his fourth seven-figure ticket of Keeneland September. "You couldn't draw a picture any prettier. I think we were at the max, but [Bridlewood Farm owner John Malone] is a strong guy, and he gave me the green light to $2 million. I had him on the phone and I said, 'I'm good to call it quits here at $2.5 million,' and he said, 'No, keep going.' At $2.8 million, they bid $2.9 million, and he said, 'Well, bid three. Go ahead.' You can't scare him away if he likes something."

The Tapit filly is the first weanling to sell for seven figures at a North American auction since 2011, when a handful of weanlings from the star-studded Palides Investments dispersal hit that mark. That group included $2.6-million Miss Besilu, the previous record-holder among North American weanling fillies.

The record-priced filly is out of the stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Serena's Cat, making her a half sister to Noble Tune, winner of the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes and the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes; and to Honor Code, winner of the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes. The latter is by A.P. Indy, the grandsire of Tapit.

Serena's Cat, out of stakes winner Serena's Tune, is a half sister to Group 3 winner Vocalised. The next dam is champion Serena's Song, dam of Group 1 winner and stakes producer Sophisticat, Grade/Group 2 winner and sire Grand Reward, Grade 2 winner and sire Harlington, Grade 3 winner Schramsberg, and stakes-placed winner Arbitrate.

"[The price] was a little unexpected, but when I saw the catalog and saw this filly, this is a [great granddaughter] of Serena's Song," Isaacs said. "[Bridlewood founder Arthur Appleton] and Bridlewood had at one time owned Serena's Song. We owned her dam Imagining for years. We had all these daughters out of this family. It's near and dear to my heart. We're trying to build a stellar breeding program, and to me this is a genetic masterpiece. We're trying to buy back into a family that's been so good to us. She's everything we're looking for. We'll own her until she draws her last breath."

This particular family also means a good deal to Hill 'n' Dale's John Sikura.

"It came full circle," Sikura said. "Our good friend Jim Saparas bought the first daughter of Serena's Song, Serena's Tune. She cost a million dollars and won the La Habra Stakes in California. I bought half with him and he sold the other half. We got off to an unbelievable start. The first filly, we sold to get some money back on an expensive purchase was a Storm Cat daughter [Serena's Cat]. She had three more foals, Vocalised was a Group 3 winner, and then she foundered and died. It was the worst thing ever. I was always so sick I sold that filly. I went back in after Noble Tune won the stakes and worked a deal with Dell Ridge Farm, because we stand Violence, and bought half-interest in Violent Beauty and Serena's Tune. It's very rewarding for lots of reasons."

The record-priced filly is the latest feather in the cap of Gainesway sire Tapit, who recently established a single-season North American progeny earnings. The son of Pulpit, who dominated the Keeneland September yearling market, is represented on the track this year by stars such as Kentucky Oaks and Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Untapable, and Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Tonalist. Tapit will stand for $300,000 in 2015.