11/07/2012 6:34PM

Keeneland sale: Pure Clan, Changing Skies exceed $4 million during second session

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Photos by Z/Keeneland
Pure Clan, a multiple Grade 1 winner, sells for $4.5 million at Keeneland's November sale.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Goncalo Torrealba, longtime owner of the Brazilian operation Stud TNT, has been collecting high-priced mares for a new breeding venture with his family, Borges Torrealba Holdings. He added a jewel to his new American broodmare band Wednesday when he paid $4.5 million for two-time Grade 1 winner Pure Clan. That was Wednesday’s highest price and the highest after two days of selling at Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale, which runs through Nov. 16.

Benefitting from strong weanling sales and a broad base of upper-level buyers, Wednesday’s session sold 109 horses, down from 138 last season, and gross fell 34 percent to $33,840,000. Average declined 17 percent to $310,459, but median climbed a percentage point, from $197,500 to $200,000. Buybacks increased to 32 percent, as compared with 21 percent in 2011.

But last year’s second session featured the Palides Investments dispersal that included Royal Delta’s $8.5 million sale to Besilu Stables and boosted gross and average. Without the Palides dispersal, the 2012 and 2011 aggregates were closer, with this year’s receipts just 2 percent lower than last year’s $34,592,000, not including the dispersal. Average this year actually rises by 6 percent when one factors out the 2011 dispersal, but median also reverses course, dropping 7 percent when compared with 2011 without the dispersal.

Through the first two days of the Keeneland sale, when taking out the large dispersals from last year, the market is steady. This year’s two-day average is $294,282, compared with $282,482 without the dispersals last year. But this year’s median of $160,000 through the first two days is down 16 percent from last year’s $190,000 median without the dispersals.

Torrealba said his family would send Pure Clan to Three Chimneys Farm, which is likely to buy into the mare, too.

“We plan on breeding to nice horses together,” Torrealba said, adding that his family intends to keep fillies but might sell at least some of the colts. The Torrealbas might have a sentimental reason to keep Pure Clan’s Bernardini foal: Torrealba campaigned Cara Rafaela, Bernardini’s dam. More recently, he raced stakes winner Leroidesanimaux.

“We’re just getting started in America again, but we have a have a long-term plan,” Torrealba said. “I think it’s very good timing. I believe in American racing long-term. Maybe we should have been here last year! Yes, mares are expensive. But, you know, the bad ones are expensive. The good ones are never expensive.”

Pure Clan’s sale capped a remarkable day for consignor Hill ’n’ Dale Sales agency, which sold the day’s three most expensive horses and was leading consignor overall with nine sold for more than $11.6 million. That included Wednesday’s other seven-figure horse, the $4.2 million Sadler’s Wells graded winner Changing Skies. Nicolas de Watrigant’s French-based Mandore International Agency purchased the 7-year-old Changing Skies in foal to Street Cry. Changing Skies is a full sister to broodmare Playful Act – who set a then-world record price for a broodmare of $10.5 million when selling here in 2007 – and a three-quarter sister to English champion Nathaniel. Sikura sold her on behalf of Ben Sangster.

Hill ’n’ Dale also consigned $825,000 Capital Plan, a 4-year-old Rock Hard Ten filly who has won two graded races and finished third in the Grade 1 Gamely this year. She sold to Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs.

“It’s been a great day so far,” Sikura said. “I’m a bit tongue-tied here. To sell two mares for better than $4 million in 2012, that’s a great day.”

Wednesday’s top-priced weanling was an $800,000 War Front colt out of Questress, a three-quarter brother to Grade 1-winning sire Pomeroy. The Eaton Sales agency sold the colt to agent John McCormack not too long after getting the same price for one of its consignment’s mares, Gracious Gif. Japanese breeder Tomoyuki Nakamura’s KI Farm bought Gracious Gift, an unraced 3-year-old daughter of popular international sire Giant’s Causeway. She is out of champion Heavenly Prize, making her a three-quarter sister to graded stakes wines Good Reward and Pure Prize, and she sold in foal to the fashionable Distorted Humor.

A few minutes later, Hunter Valley Farm went to $800,000 for the Denali Stud agency’s Heatherdoesntbluff, the dam of Grade 1 winner Killer Graces and now carrying a half-sibling by Medaglia d’Oro to that runner.

The most notable Medaglia d’Oro horse at Wednesday’s session was Samantha Nicole, a full sister to 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. It was little surprise when the bidding ended with Rachel Alexandra’s owner, Barbara Banke, as the purchaser. The price was lower than many spectators and Rachel Alexandra fans anticipated, but Banke revealed that veterinary reports on the filly showed sesamoiditis, an inflammation of the sesamoid bones in the filly’s fetlocks.

The filly, a rare yearling to sell at this auction, arrived with the Gainesway consignment as part of Dolphus Morrison’s dispersal. The good-sized dark bay filly bears a near-exact replica of her illustrious older sister’s famed “broken blaze,” a fact that delighted the crowd that gathered to watch her sell. But she is not identical to Rachel, as Banke pointed out.

“She doesn’t quite have the crazy eye that Rachel did,” Banke said with a laugh, referring to the visible white in Rachel Alexandra’s eye. “She’s going to take a little time. She’s not totally perfect, but we like a lot of what we saw. A lot of the pieces are good.”

Banke said the filly will stay at her Stonestreet Farm near Lexington until she’s ready to ship to Florida for early training.

KEENELAND NOVEMBER BREEDING STOCK SALE

First two days (including 2011 dispersals)

  2012 % +/- 2011
No. offered 302 (-13.0%) 347
No. sold 209 (-25.6%) 281
Buybacks 30.8%   19.0%
Total $61,505,000 (-46.1%) $114,202,000
Average $294,282 (-27.6%) $406,413
Median $160,000 (-27.3%) $220,000