09/14/2016 5:40PM

Keeneland September: Book 1 finishes with a bang

Keeneland photo
A half-brother to champion Beholder and Grade 1 winner Into Mischief sold for $3 million on Wednesday at the Keeneland September yearling sale, the highest price paid at the sale since 2010.

A flurry of high-priced offerings on Wednesday helped the select Book 1 portion of the Keeneland September yearling sale finish with improved figures in average and median sale price, with a $3-million Scat Daddy colt becoming the auction’s most expensive offering since 2010.

A total of 346 yearlings sold over the three sessions that made up Book 1 for revenues of $120,225,000, down 11 percent from last year’s cumulative Book 1 gross of $134,361,000 from more horses, 443, sold.

The cumulative average sale price for the book finished at $347,471, up 15 percent from $303,298 in 2015. The median rose 20 percent from $250,000 to $300,000.

At the top of the market, eight horses sold for seven figures, trailing the 11 to do so during last year’s first book. Of that group, six horses came during Wednesday’s third and final Book 1 session.

“We definitely broke through the glass ceiling today,” Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales, said. “There was a sense of urgency today. I think people realized this was the end of Book 1, this was the end of where the top physicals and the top pedigrees met, and if you wanted to play, you needed to play, and they got busy.”

On the next level, 82 yearlings brought $500,000 or more over the three days, surpassing the 62 to hit that threshold in 2015’s comparable period.

The Book 1 buyback rate finished at 31 percent, unchanged from last year.

A colt by the late sire Scat Daddy led the sale, going to the Coolmore partnership for $3 million on Wednesday afternoon. The colt is a half-brother to champion Beholder and to Grade 1 winner Into Mischief.

The colt, consigned by breeder Clarkland Farm, recorded the highest price at a Keeneland September sale since 2010, when Mr. Besilu topped the sale at $4.2 million.

"It's a lot of money, but he deserved to be," said M.V. Magnier, who signed the ticket for Coolmore.

Coolmore stood Scat Daddy from his retirement for the 2008 breeding season until his sudden death from a suspected cardiac event last December, as his star was still on the rise. Magnier cited familiarity with the stallion as one reason for the purchase.

"He's by Scat Daddy and a brother to an exceptional race filly," said Magnier, who added that the colt will head to Europe for his training. "You won't see much better than [Beholder]. He's also a brother to another very good colt. He's a very good mover, he's very good-looking, it's a very good family."

The colt is out of the stakes-winning Tricky Creek mare Leslie's Lady, who Clarkland purchased for $100,000 out of the 2006 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Since then, the mare's stock has soared with two Grade 1 winners in Beholder and Into Mischief. Beholder's nine Grade 1 triumphs are highlighted by a romp in the 2015 Pacific Classic over males, the 2013 Breeders' Cup Distaff, and the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

The Scat Daddy colt purchased Wednesday is bred on a similar pattern to Beholder, as Scat Daddy is a grandson of Hennessy, also Beholder's paternal grandsire.

Into Mischief, who posted his Grade 1 victory in the CashCall Futurity as a juvenile the year after Clarkland purchased his dam, is now a successful young sire for Spendthrift. Two of Leslie's Lady's daughters are also stakes producers.

This is the second seven-figure yearling out of the mare, joining a $1.1-million Curlin filly sold at Keeneland September in 2014. Beholder was a $180,000 yearling purchase by Spendthrift; Into Mischief, an $80,000 yearling whom Spendthrift then landed for $180,000 as a 2-year-old in training.

"We still have the mare and she's in foal to Medaglia d'Oro, and hopefully she has a filly so we can keep her and race her, because after this, I think we might be able to afford to keep her," Fred Mitchell, who co-owns Clarkland, said.

"I was very surprised. I thought he might be the highest price of the sale, but I thought $2 million might fit him," Mitchell said. "We were hoping for a million and a half. Double that is unbelievable."

:: For complete Keeneland September coverage, visit DRF Breeding Live ::

Perennial leading commercial sire Tapit was the top sire by gross in Book 1, finishing with 28 horses sold for a combined $18,560,000. He was also the first book’s leading sire by average among those with three or more sold, at $662,857.

The Gainesway resident sired four of the eight seven-figure yearlings in Book 1, led by a half-brother to 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man who sold to the partnership of Bridlewood Farm and Coolmore for $2 million.

"In my opinion, he was certainly the nicest Tapit of the sale, and he's got a stallion's pedigree,” Bridlewood’s George Isaacs said. “Coolmore asked us to consider partnering with him on a nice colt to try to potentially be a stallion. That's the old adage, if you can't lick 'em, join 'em. We're happy to be a part of that.”

Taylor Made Sales Agency was Book 1’s leading consignor by gross, with 50 horses sold for $16,387,000. The consignment was topped by the sale’s leading filly, a Tapit half-sister to multiple Grade 2 winner Gun Runner, sold to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $1.4 million.

Sheikh Hamdan Al-Maktoum’s Shadwell was the top buyer of Book 1, with 15 purchases totaling $10,750,000. The most expensive of the group was the sale’s third highest-priced horse, a $1.9-million War Front colt out of the stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Prize Catch.

Wednesday’s session saw 119 horses sold for $47,735,000, up 2 percent from last year’s third session. The average sale price shot up 30 percent from $309,629 to $401,134, while the median rose 20 percent from $250,000 to $300,000. The buyback rate finished at 25 percent, by far the lowest figure of the sale thus far, and down from last year’s comparable session figure of 30 percent.

The Keeneland September sale resumes Friday and continues daily through Sept. 25, beginning each day at 10 a.m. Eastern.

For hip-by-hip results from Book 1, click here.

-- Additional reporting by Nicole Russo

Keeneland September yearling sale, Book 1 (sessions 1-3) results

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2016 346 (-22%) $120,225,000 (-11%) $347,471 (+15%) $300,000 (+20%) 31%
2015 443 $134,361,000 $303,298 $250,000 31%

Keeneland September yearling sale, session 3 results

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2016 119 (-21%) $47,735,000 (+2%) $401,134 (+30%) $300,000 (+20%) 25%
2015 151 $46,754,000 $309,629 $250,000 30%