09/10/2013 8:51PM

Keeneland September: Seven-figure quartet leads second session

Keeneland photo
A filly by Bernardini sold for $1.3 million to lead the second session of the Keeneland September sale.

It took two sessions for this year’s edition of the Keeneland September yearling sale to eclipse the number of seven-figure horses that went through the ring for the entire sale last year, signaling the continued growth of the market.

A total of 139 horses were sold during Tuesday’s second of 12 sessions at Keeneland for receipts of $34,886,000. The average sale price finished at $250,978, while the median price was $200,000.

The buyback rate for Tuesday’s session was 26 percent, down from Monday’s opening session rate of 30 percent.

The new catalog format expanding the sale’s select portion from one day to four makes comparing day-to-day session totals between the years impractical, but the level of activity at the top end of the market augured well for the remaining two days of Book 1’s schedule before the two-day Book 2 segment takes place over the weekend. Eight yearlings sold for $1 million or more through Tuesday, surpassing the seven that sold during the entire sale last year.

Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales, credited the redesigned sale schedule for stimulating buyers that might have otherwise waited it out until later sessions to start spending money.

“The goal of the format was to put people on the sales grounds and get people out there looking at the horses,” Russell said. “By looking at the buyer’s list, there’s a huge cross-section. We want them to go out and find good horses. That’s their goal and they’ve done it, so that’s good.

“The fact that there are eight million-dollar horses so far is very rewarding, and I would say that that’s probably because the market has improved,” he continued.

The first horse to surpass a million dollars on Tuesday, and top the session in the process, was a Bernardini half-sister to champion and Kentucky Oaks winner Proud Spell who sold to Amarillo, Texas-based Baumann Stables for $1.3 million.

The bay filly is out of the winning Langfuhr mare Pacific Spell, who is the dam of three winners from four foals to race. The filly is also a half-sister to Grade 3-placed winner Proud Pearl.

“We're very pleased to have made the purchase,” said Lane Seliger of Baumann Stables. “The bloodline was very, very attractive, very deep, and I think it will be well-supported in the future.”

Bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones, and consigned as agent by his Airdrie Stud, the filly is from the family of Grade 1 winners Imaginary Lady and J P’s Gusto. Tuesday’s transaction made the filly by far the most expensive foal out of Pacific Spell to sell at public auction.

“We're beside ourselves, thrilled,” said Bret Jones of Airdrie Stud. “We couldn't be happier. That family has meant so much to us, and to have a result like that is certainly what you dream about.”

Three horses hammered at an even million dollars, including a Tapit colt who went to the Coolmore-affiliated M. V. Magnier. The colt is out of the Grade 2-placed winning Beau Genius mare Pretty ‘n Smart, whose four winners from as many foals to race include Grade 3 winners Heart Ashley and Ashley’s Kitty. The colt was consigned as agent by VanMeter Sales.

“He’s a nice colt, a very nice horse,” Magnier said. “He moves very well. We’re going to bring him back to [Coolmore’s American division, Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky.] and decide from there as to what we’re going to do with him and where he’s going to go.”

A Smart Strike colt out of Canadian champion Serenading commanded $1 million from a partnership led by Dr. Mark Dedomenico’s Pegasus operation. Bloodstock agent Mike Puhich, who signed the ticket, said the colt would be sent to Pegasus Training Center in Redmond, Wash., for breaking, and then to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who will be a partner in the horse. Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency consigned the colt as agent.

“[He’s] just a really classy, gorgeous horse,” Puhich said. “He’s by a top stallion, and we really fell in love with him.”

The final horse through the ring on Tuesday closed the day’s trade with another seven-figure bid. Fashion industry magnate Andrew Rosen, through his bloodstock advisor Hugo Merry, secured a Malibu Moon filly out of the stakes-winning Wild Again mare Shop Again, who is the dam of Grade 1 winner and recent Haskell runner-up Power Broker. The filly was the second of Malibu Moon’s offerings to sell for $1 million or more through two sessions, following a $1.35 million filly on Monday.

“It's such a gift to be able to bring [a horse] up like that,” said Headley Bell of Mill Ridge Sales, who consigned the colt as agent. “She was an extraordinary filly, bred by one of our dear friends who's been with us for a long time. So many people were interested in her and we just didn't know whom. Andrew Rosen is such a class act. He loves racing, so it delights us in every way.”

Lane’s End was the leading consignor during Tuesday’s session, with 18 yearlings sold for a gross of $5,730,000. The Farish family’s operation was led by an $850,000 Distorted Humor colt secured by Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Company, Ltd.

Shadwell led Monday’s buyers by gross and did the same on Tuesday, with eight purchases for a total of $3,010,000, highlighted by the aforementioned Distorted Humor colt. The colt is out of the Grade 2-winning More Than Ready mare Ready’s Gal, and is a full brother to Grade 3 winner Machen.

Gainesway stallion Tapit led all sires by gross on Tuesday, with eight offspring sold for a total of $3,135,000. Malibu Moon was the leading sire by average, with two horses sold for an average price of $605,000.

Through two days, 269 yearlings have sold at Keeneland for gross receipts of $69,621,000, posting an average price of $258,814 and a median of $200,000. The buyback rate was 28 percent.

Book 1 of the Keeneland September sale continues through Thursday, with sessions beginning each day at noon Eastern.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.

--Additional reporting by Matt Hegarty and Nicole Russo