09/22/2015 7:17PM

Keeneland September: Pope-bred duo leads gains to start Book 4

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Mandy Pope grabbed headlines in Book 1 of the Keeneland September yearling sale for buying the probable sale topper and selling the first yearlings from her roster of high-profile broodmare purchases, but her operation continued to have a presence as the auction moved into Book 4 as the breeder of Tuesday’s two most expensive offerings.

The duo helped drive steady trade during the auction’s eighth session, with 292 horses sold for revenues of $14,192,700. That marked a 5 percent increase from the ninth day of last year’s sale, the first of Book 4, when 289 yearlings sold for $13,467,500.

The average sale price rose 4 percent from last year’s comparable session, from $46,600 to $48,605, while the median remained unchanged at $35,000. The buyback rate finished at 20 percent on Tuesday, up slightly from 17 percent during last year’s Book 4 opener.

At the top of the market, three yearlings sold for $200,000 or more, trailing last year’s comparable session by one, though the day’s high price of $425,000 surpassed last year’s high point of $350,000. The 28 horses to bring six figures tied last year’s ninth session.

A colt from the first crop of Astrology topped Tuesday’s session, selling to Stonestreet Farm and George Bolton for $425,000.

The dark bay or brown colt is the first foal out of the placed More Than Ready mare Priceless Design, whose extended family includes Grade 1 winners General Challenge, Notable Career, and Evening Jewel, as well as Grade 1-placed runners Southern Halo and Saucey Evening.

“He’s a beautiful horse,” said John Moynihan, bloodstock adviser to Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Farm. “Barbara and George own the stallion. He was one of the prettiest horses we saw at the sales, so we wanted to support the stallion. That’s the reason we went in there swinging.

“He’s a carbon copy of what his father looked like as a yearling,” Moynihan continued. “We’ll race him and try to get the stallion off to a good start. Physically, he was a fantastic-looking horse. We’re really excited about the stallion. If he gets a lot more horses that look like this, he’s on his road to going the right way.”

Timber Town consigned the colt as agent for Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm, which purchased the mare for $300,000 at the 2009 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected yearling sale.

The transaction capped off a big session for Pope, who also bred Tuesday’s second-most expensive offering, a Medaglia d’Oro colt, who sold to Repole Stable for $260,000.

The colt is out of the multiple Grade 2-winning A.P. Indy mare Indian Vale, who is the dam of two winners from three foals to race. A $725,000 purchase at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale, Indian Vale is a daughter of Grade 1 winner Marley Vale and hails from the family of Grade 3 winner Marilyn’s Guy and Grade 2-placed stakes winner Beau Blush.

Lane’s End finished as Tuesday’s leading consignor by gross, with 26 yearlings sold for $1,451,500. The session’s only consignment to reach seven figures was led by a $150,000 Tizway colt, who was purchased by Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

Stonestreet Stables and Bolton were the day’s leading buyers based on the sole purchase of the session-topper.

City Zip, a resident of Lane’s End, was Tuesday’s leading sire by gross, with eight yearlings bringing $605,000.

The leader by average sale price (three or more sold) was first-crop stallion Astrology, who had five yearlings sell for an average of $106,200, highlighted by the session-topper. Astrology stands at Taylor Made Stallions.

Book 4 of the Keeneland September sale concludes Wednesday, and the auction continues daily through Sept. 26, with sessions beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.