01/10/2012 4:48PM

Keeneland sale sees broodmares keep momentum going

Magnificent Honour sold in foal to Giant's Causeway.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Mares continued to dominate auction results Tuesday at the Keeneland January auction, a day after Star Billing’s dam, Topliner, sold for $1.4 million, contributing to strong increases at the opening session. Mares with good produce records are hot commodities, but Tuesday’s $600,000 session-leader, Magnificent Honour, was in demand mainly because of her family.

Magnificent Honour was unraced and has yet to produce a stakes winner, but she is a daughter of 2007 Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour and a full sister to 2007’s Belmont winner and champion 3-year-old filly, Rags to Riches.

England-based Blandford Bloodstock agency purchased Magnificent Honour, a 10-year-old A. P. Indy mare in foal to Giant's Causeway, on behalf of a European-based client who intends to leave the mare in the United States for commercial breeding, according to Blandford co-owner Tom Goff. Paramount Sales agency sold the mare. It was a big day for Paramount, whose six-figure horses also included the $350,000 Tapit mare Anchorage, a stakes-placed runner in foal to Giant’s Causeway, to Stonereath Farm.

Magnificent Honour’s $600,000 price led selling at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, the four-day sale’s second session. “It’s probably one of the best families in the American stud book, in my humble opinion,” Goff said after signing the $600,000 ticket. “The 2011 Tiznow is very nice. It’s a great cover and a reasonably early service, and she’s a standout on pedigree. Pricewise, put it this way: It was at the upper limit of our valuation. The market’s been bloody good here, hasn’t it?

“I’ll tell you what impresses me, is what the yearlings are making,” he added. “We’ve followed through plenty and haven’t gotten any yearlings.”

Tuesday’s most expensive yearling, a January filly by Empire Maker out of Grade 1 winner Ticker Tape, went for $400,000 to Coolmore associate and Camas Park Stud owner Tim Hyde. Hyde said the bay filly will point for resale at Keenelands 2012 September yearling auction.

Eaton Sales, agent, consigned the yearling, then whipped around to pay $450,000 for the Gainesway agency’s Grade 2 winner Touching Beauty, in foal to Unbridled’s Song.

Eaton Sales, as agent, bought another Gainesway-consigned mare in foal to Unbridled’s Song earlier in the session. That was $300,000 stakes-winner Parisian Affair, a daughter of Mr. Greeley. She already is the dam of stakes-winner Crimson China.

Gainesway also had a big day. The agency also sold $400,000 Art Princess, a half-sister to Zazu carrying a foal by that filly’s sire, Gainesway stallion Tapit, as well as $350,000 Zealous Cat, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Pohave, also in foal to Tapit. Katsumi Yoshida bought Art Princess, and Glen Hill Farm took home Zealous Cat.

The SF Bloodstock partnership had picked up two mares by late afternoon Tuesday, the dams of 2011 Hollywood Derby winner Ultimate Eagle and 2011 Hollywood Prevue winner So Brilliant for $225,000 and $200,000, respectively. Ultimate Eagle’s dam, Letithappencaptain, sold in foal to Bellamy Road and was another six-figure mare offered by Paramount’s agency. Merry Me in Spring, dam of So Brilliant, hailed from the Warrendale Sales consignment. She’s in foal to Medaglia d’Oro’s son Warrior’s Reward, and so she is carrying a three-quarter-sibling to So Brilliant.

Letithappencaptain got a huge catalog update when Ultimate Eagle won the Hollywood Derby after the catalog’s publication and became the mare’s first Grade 1-winning foal. That made all the difference, said SF Bloodstock’s Tom Ryan, adding that before then Letithappencaptain hadn’t even been on their list.

“It’s been a good sale so far,” Ryan said. “The real quality young mares, Grade 1 producers in foal, have made fair money. A lot of them have gone to Japan, so it’s nice to keep a mare like this in America.”

Good prices at the top of January’s market didn’t surprise Magnificent Honour’s buyer, Tom Goff.

“When you have a catalog in which obvious broodmares and yearlings stand out, then we’ll all fall over each other on our way to the ring, won’t we?” he said. “The obvious ones stick out like a sore thumb. It doesn’t take a genius now.”

Tuesday’s session followed forceful gains in all financial categories at Monday’s opener. Gross jumped 30 percent, average rose 17 percent, and median shot up by 60 percent. The session sold 209 horses for $13,932,200, yielding a $66,661 average and $32,000 median. After 102 scratches from the session, buy-backs also decreased from 35 percent to 28 percent.

Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm bought Topliner, an unraced 10-year-old Thunder Gulch daughter. The Hill ‘n’ Dale agency sold her in foal to Medaglia d’Oro.

The sale was to continue through Thursday with sessions beginning each day at 10 a.m. in Keeneland’s sale pavilion.