09/11/2012 8:16PM

Keeneland September: $700k Tapit colt tops first day of Book 2

Photo by Z/Keeneland
A Giant's Causeway half brother to Pomeroy sold for $550,000, the second-highest price in the first session of Book 2.

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A $700,000 Tapit colt lit up the board late in the session Tuesday to top the Keeneland September yearling auction’s second -- and first non-select -- day.

The gray April 14 foal, sold to Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables as Hip No. 402 in Gainesway’s consignment. 

Keeneland reformatted the September sale this year and shortened the select sessions from two days to one, making year-to-year comparisons inexact. But comparing the first session of Book 2  with last year’s first Book 2 day indicates that Tuesday’s session was continuing an upward trend that started at Monday’s select session. 

Tuesday’s session sold 186 horses for $32,240,000, just two percent less than last year’s first Book 2 session grossed for 200 yearlings. But the session average and median put up gains. Average price climbed six percent, from $163,783 to $173,333, and median easily outperformed last year’s Book 2 opening day, rising 18 percent from $127,500 to $150,000.

But the buyback rate also increased to 32 percent. Last year’s Book 2 opener had a 28 percent buyback rate.

(For complete sales results, click here)

Tuesday’s $700,000 session-topping colt is out of Tempting Note, a stakes-placed Editor’s Note mare, which makes him a full brother to graded-placed Tempted to Tapit and to the 3-year-old filly Dance Card. The latter sold to Darley for $750,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Florida select 2-year-old sale this year and has since won two of her three starts, most recently a Saratoga allowance.

Gainesway Farm sold the session-topper and also co-bred him, with the Tapit syndicate, on a foal share agreement with the tobacco-farming and horse-breeding team of Bruce and Luke McMillin. The Georgetown father and son farm about 1,000 acres near Georgetown, Ky., and the family has been breeding what father Bruce called “a few Thoroughbreds” for a long time.

“He was a nice colt,” Bruce McMillin said. “Everything fell in place on him, and it worked out good. We’ve been selling horses for about 50 years, and you don’t run across one like that very often. 

“I didn’t think it would go that high,” McMillin said of the bidding for Hip No. 402. “We knew he was a good colt and thought he’d sell good, but we never thought he’d go for that. We’ve never sold anything close to that.”

The session-topper was one of four horses to sell for $500,000 or more Tuesday. The second highest-priced yearling, a Giant’s Causeway half-brother to Grade 1 winner and sire Pomeroy, went to Maverick Racing for $550,000. Gainesway, agent, consigned the bay colt, an April 8 foal out of Questress.

A Tapit colt out of German champion Que Belle, by Seattle Dancer, brought $500,000 from Coolmore’s Demi O’Byrne. Malibu Farm (Taylor Made, agent) was the seller. The gray or roan colt, a May 5 foal, is a half-brother to graded winner Osidy and group winner Quetsche.

Late in the afternoon, Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Co. also paid $500,000 for a bay Tiznow filly out of Storminthegarden, by Stormy Atlantic. Sweezey and Partners, agent, consigned the Feb. 9 filly.

One prominent upper-market spender at Tuesday’s session was agent Steven Young, who picked up five yearlings totaling $1,625,000. He suffered a gut-wrenching moment with the most expensive of those, a $425,000 Arch colt he bought for Gil Moutray’s Alto Racing. Moments before the hammer fell, the dark bay colt pulled backwards against the ring showman and hit the ropes that, threaded through metal posts, surround the auction ring. Regaining his footing and stepping back into the ring proper, he knocked one of the posts askew. The post was easily replaced, but the colt stood holding his right hind leg in the air briefly and then was lame when leaving the ring.

After signing the ticket, Young rushed back to check on the colt at consignor Claiborne Farm’s barn. “He stuck his foot through the rope and had a minor abrasion to his right hind leg,” Young said later. “He’s fine. It could have been a lot worse. He did get a ‘dead leg,’ if you will. I don’t know if horses have funny bones, but like he hit his funny bone. But he’s bearing weight on it, and he should be fine. We’re going to monitor him overnight and see what he looks like in the morning, but he appears at this time to have dodged a bullet.”

The Arch colt is out of Seeking the Gold’s winning daughter Sidle and is bred on the same cross as Alto Racing’s highly touted juvenile Archwarrior, who broke his maiden impressively at Saratoga on Aug. 30.

Young’s other purchases included a $420,000 Distorted Humor filly, a half-sister to graded-winning millionaire Rule. She’s also closely related to 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide. The chestnut filly, a Jan. 7 foal, is out of Funny Cide’s half-sister Rockcide and is by Funny Cide’s sire. Holly and Craig Bandoroff’s Denali Stud agency consigned the filly.

The Keeneland September sale’s Book 2 section was to continue through Thursday with sessions starting each day at 11 a.m. After a dark day on Sept. 14, the auction was to resume with Book 3. Book 3 and the remainder of the sale sessions, running through Sept. 21, will begin at 10 a.m.