09/10/2012 8:18PM

Keeneland September: Five million-dollar yearlings buoy select session

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Keeneland September yearling auction’s only select session delivered five million-dollar yearlings and launched the 11-day sale on an upward trend as average and median outpaced last year’s figures.

Keeneland reformatted the select session this year, trimming it from two nights to one evening session, making year-to-year-comparisons inexact. But the $403,867 average was well up from last season’s two-night Book 1 total of $353,488 and the 2011 first-night average of $377,015. And Monday’s $350,000 median easily outpaced last year’s two-night median of $300,000 and equaled last year’s opening night figure.

Monday’s one-day Book 1 session sold 75 yearlings for $30,290,000. Last year, the two-night Book 1 sold 129 yearlings for $45,600,000; last year’s opening night alone sold 67 horses for $25,260,000.

The decline in gross did not surprise, given the comparison of a single select day this year with a two-day select portion in 2011. Also contributing to the smaller select portion: a smaller supply of yearlings from 2011’s smaller registered foal crop, which brought the 11-day September sale’s overall catalog numbers down by 17 percent.

The buyback rate Monday was 34 percent, up slightly from last year’s Book 1 rate of 32 percent, but, in better news, the number of million-dollar horses--including the sale-topping $1.65 million Distorted Humor colt--went up from three in the 2011 Book 1 to five this year.

(For complete sales results, click here)

Bidding from the privacy of an office “on the hill,” as sales-goers refer to Keeneland’s offices Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Co. sprang for the sale-topper, a son of Grade 1 winner Mushka. Eaton Sales, agent, consigned the April 14 colt, a bay from the family of multiple Grade 1 winner Lakeway, among others. 

Cataloged as Hip No. 131, the Distorted Humor colt sold as the night’s next-to-last offering, and Sheikh Hamdan -- invisible to press and spectators from his private bidding place -- evidently didn’t mind staying late, because he also took home the night’s last yearling, another Distorted Humor colt. That one, a half-brother to reigning champion juvenile filly My Miss Aurelia, cost $850,000 and came to the auction from Stonestreet Thoroughbreds (Gainesway, agent).

Eventually, a single quote about the sale-topper, attributed to Shadwell’s general manager, Rick Nichols, trickled down the hill to the press box, via Keeneland’s Julie Balog.

“Good pedigree, nice conformation, and fit well into the program,” Nichols said, according to Balog.

In a more public transaction, Hill ’n’ Dale Farms chief John Sikura teamed up with breeder and owner Bruce Lunsford to snap up the night’s most expensive filly, and second-priciest yearling overall: a $1.3 million Smart Strike filly who is a half-sister to Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister. The bay filly, born Jan. 17, came to the sale from Audley Farm in Virginia, which also bred Bodemeister. 

The bay filly, born Jan. 17, came to the sale from Audley Farm in Virginia, where, Audley general manager Jens von Lepel said, she was a particular favorite.

“I’m more than thrilled,” said Von Lepel, who manages Audley for Eric von Baumbach and Christophe Boehringer. The historic farm in Berryville, Va., once was the residence of George Washington’s adopted daughter, Nellie Parke Custis, and later stood the first Triple Crown winner, Sir Barton, at stud. “I think that was a very good price for her, and, I tell you what, in fairness, she was here for sale, but we loved her, and we put a reserve on her just to protect her a little bit. But this was over all expectations.”

Bodemeister’s trainer, Bob Baffert, who stood nearby as Hill ’n’ Dale agent Donato Lanni signed the ticket, is likely to train the filly.

Also cracking seven figures was a $1.05-million War Front colt who is a half-brother to recent Test and Acorn Stakes winner Contested. Jane B. Dunn, who has the Holly Hill Training Center in Holly Hill, S.C., signed the ticket for an American-based partnership that included Adele Dilschneider. Claiborne Farm, agent, consigned the bay colt.

“If you want a nice horse, it looks expensive tonight, I think,” Dunn said. “So if you want it, you’ve got to get a little brave.”

A filly from A. P. Indy’s final yearling crop also brought seven figures when knocked down for $1.1 million to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm. The Mill Ridge sales agency consigned the May 4 daughter of graded winner Moonlight Sonata. The bay filly is a three-quarters-sister to Wilburn and a half-sister to Beethoven, both Grade 2 winners.

A. P. Indy’s last Keeneland September select yearlings grossed $3.6 million for six sales, for a $600,000 average price and a median of $637,500. A. P. Indy also sired two of the night’s notable buybacks. His son of Lady Lochinvar, a full brother to graded-winning millionaire and current sire Master Command, returned to sellers Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams on a $975,000 final bid. And a daughter of the stakes-placed Fasliyev mare Lacadena was a $725,000 buyback from Denali Stud’s agency.

(At the other end of the spectrum, the first of three yearlings from Sea The Stars’s first crop -- and the only one on offer Monday -- brought $675,000 from the Osaka-based company K.K. Eishindo. The Jan. 30 colt is out of the Awesome Again mare Ice Mint and was part of Clearsky Farms’ consignment.)

The night’s other $1 million yearling, a Street Cry-Tizso colt who is Paynter’s half-brother, sold to Charles and Maribeth Sandford. The Taylor Made agency consigned the $1 million bay colt, whose second dam, Cee’s Song, produced the two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and stallion Tiznow. The Sandfords also picked up a $600,000 A. P. Indy-Coral Sea colt, a three-quarters-brother to 2008 Fountain of Youth winner Cool Coal Man. Lane’s End, which stood A.P. Indy until his pensioning last year, was the consignor. They started the night by signing for a $130,000 Bernardini-Our Legacy colt consigned by Eaton Sales.

Other high-priced yearlings Monday night included a $725,000 A. P. Indy-Million Gift filly from Sky Beauty’s family that Charles Fipke bought from Taylor Made, agent; a $675,000 A. P. Indy filly out of millionaire Grade 1-placed Miraculous Miss that Coolmore’s Demi O’Byrne bought from Eaton Sales, agent; $650,000 Smart Strike colt out of Grade 1 winner Hollywood Story that Whisper Hill Farm bought from Hill ’n’ Dale, agent; a $625,000 Indian Charlie-Witness Post filly, a half-sister to Hello Liberty, that Shadwell Estate Co. bought from Brereton Jones Jr.’s Airdrie agency; a $600,000 Street Cry-Dark Sky colt from the family of Nebraska Tornado that Blandford Bloodstock purchased from Hunter Valley Farm, agent; and a $525,000 Elusive Quality colt out of former champion 3-year-old filly Xtra Heat that Juddmonte Farms bought from Woodford Thoroughbreds, agent.

There also was a spate of $500,000  yearlings. They were a Broken Vow-Playa Maya colt, a half-brother to 2011 champion juvenile Uncle Mo, that Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation bought from the Eaton Sales agency; a Smart Strike-Wile Cat colt, a half-brother to group winner Shumoos, that agent Richard O’Gorman acquired from Eaton Sales, agent; a Galileo-Egyptian Queen colt from A. P. Warrior’s family that Glen Hill Farm bought from Reiko and Michael Baum (Man o’ War Farm, agent); a Divine Park-Don’t Trick Her filly, a half-sister to Grade 1 winners to Check the Label and Include Me Out, that Whisper Hill Farm bought from Airdrie’s consignment; an Empire Maker-Lochinvar’s Gold filly, a member of her sire’s final U.S.-sired crop, that Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams (Elm Tree Farm, agent) sold to Barry Schwartz; and a Tiznow-Memories of Silver half-brother to Winter Memories that Darby Dan Farm, agent, sold to K.K. Eishindo.

The Keeneland September yearling sale was to continue with a three-day Book 2 session from Tuesday through Thursday. Book 2 sessions start at 11 a.m. There will be a dark day on Friday, and selling will resume Saturday through Sept. 21 with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.

mcwilliamsdustinj . More than 1 year ago
Has a yearning sold at a sale for over a million dollars ever made a million back racing?.
Margaret Clemente More than 1 year ago
I don't know how this would work-BUT If a percentage (even a small one of these huge amounts) would go to a non profit organization that would appropriate money for the care of retired race horses. Those kind people that adopt retired race horses could apply for funds for the care and feeding of these beautiful animals.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
It's nice to see so many people are showing an interest in owning horses again. I feel that enthusiasm is, in part, due to the excitement generated around this year's Triple Crown races and the fine competitiveness of the top-tier of three year olds running in those races. I also think it should be pointed out that just because a lot of money was paid out for some of these horses, over a million dollars in some cases, it is not necessary to spend this type of money to get a great horse. This year's double Classic winner, I'll Have Another, as well as Seattle Slew, Sunday Silence, Spectacular Bid, Smarty Jones, Funny Cide and a number of other great champion horses have proven that fact with great success. The return on their owners's investments are the stuff of legend. Some of our absolutely best horses have been purchased at bargain-basement prices. A million dollar price tag does not guarantee you a great champion horse. And to the person who purchased Paynter's half-brother, I hope your horse shows at least one quarter the courage and bravery of Paynter, he is one inspirational horse. Paynter's courage alone makes him a great horse, his race day performances have just been an added bonus to that.
Margaret Clemente More than 1 year ago
good observations! Paynter is a miracle horse!
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Great points about over-paying Joy. Everyone believes they can just buy success. The filly purchaces make sense for breeding but colts are a dime a dozen. How bout Emma's Encore..filly who just one grade 1 for Mr. Jerkens...Bought for $ 2,000 I believe
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Emma's Encore - another great example, Thomas. She has earned more than 170 times the original investment on her to date. Not bad for a very small initial investment made by her owners.
mcwilliamsdustinj . More than 1 year ago
Has a yearning purchased at a sale for a million dollars ever made a million dollars racing?
mcwilliamsdustinj . More than 1 year ago
Has a yealing purchased at a sale for a million dollars ever made a million dollars racing?
richard montgomery More than 1 year ago
We have two rescue mares and another mare thay was pregnant when we got her. Now the baby is almost six months old and its getting time to wean. We have absolutely no money but we take care of these " forgotten" racehorses. What sucks is nobody seems to care about the horses once they leave the track- they end up being given away if they cant perform and some disappear without a trace. Some are still listed as being in training but in fact they are gone. We have zero money, yet somehow find a way to buy hay and feed and care for them, while the wealthy - who knows what youre doing, certainly not helping us out.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
You didn't give the name of your organization or how provide the link to that organization. If a group wanted to help they wouldn't know how to make that happen because you gave no information for them to go on.
richard montgomery More than 1 year ago
Joy, thank you for your reply. You seem like a nice person as I have read alot of your comments in the past. Well, we are not an organization, just some folks that decided to move to a little place with a barn and a pasture and then the horses just started showing up. Its my friends place, I go over every day and tend to the horses. I never knew what happened to the exracehorses, but now I do. It would be a miracle if money was available to help care for them as they have taken about a year to form a cooperative " herd" and I would hate to see them split up and go to others but money is the issue. My email is hghvw2@ gmail.com.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
There are websites your friend could go to that helps set up pages for good causes such saving these horses. It gives people a safe environment to give the money and gives your friend a chance to save the horses and help provide for their futures. It's the perfect set up for all involved. The site guarantees the cause is a legitmiate cause and the person/organization in need is guaranteed legitimate donations, minus the overhead costs of the website. Remember the grandmother who was bullied on the school bus by some grade schoolers? She was helped by that website. This would be a promisnig option for your friend. Make sure you provide good documentation of your project, people want to see who their money is going to, and where, on what and how their money is being spent. I hope this suggestion is of help.
richard montgomery More than 1 year ago
Thank you, I will check into that.
Kyri Freeman More than 1 year ago
It was frustrating to see the offspring of River's Prayer and Rutherienne sold to Japan where we won't even be able to follow their racing careers.
richard montgomery More than 1 year ago
I could use a small donation for my friends little farm. We need to build a fence to wean a foal, but we cannot figure out how to come up with $300. Or as you might call it pocket change.
raymond More than 1 year ago
politics and religion not allowed as a topic. Boo-Hoo, waaaaaaaaaaaaa.
Gerardo Helguera More than 1 year ago
Instead of wasting all this crazy money on these well bred horses they should donate the money to me, easy to say. This yearling sale must be really fun!
The Baron More than 1 year ago
ANY ONE LOOKING FOR THE "ONE PERCENT"?? They are well and spending cash like trash on Race Horses!!