09/21/2013 9:31PM

Malibu Moon reaches milestone at Keeneland

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Barbara D. Livingston
Malibu Moon, sire of Kentucky Derby winner Orb, was represented by the first two seven-figure yearlings of his stud career at the Keeneland September sale.

This year has been one to remember for Malibu Moon, who gained his first classic winner when his son Orb stormed down the stretch to win the Kentucky Derby. That success on the racetrack has been reflected in the auction ring, as the prominent stallion reached another milestone in his stud career when he was represented by his first two seven-figure yearlings at the Keeneland September sale.

“We just couldn’t be happier,” said Mark Toothaker, part of the sales team at B. Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift Farm, which stands Malibu Moon in Lexington, Ky. “When I first came [to the sale grounds], I started looking at all the Malibu Moons out here, and I called Mr. Hughes that evening, and I told him, ‘Just wait until this crop gets to the racetrack next year,’ because the mares are just unbelievable, and the physicals on these horses were just incredible. So, we couldn’t be more excited.”

Malibu Moon, a 16-year-old A.P. Indy horse, was represented on the first day of the Keeneland September sale’s select Book 1 portion by Miss Hollywood, a filly out of multiple Grade 1 winner Hollywood Story who sold for $1.35 million to Northwest Stud. One day later, a Malibu Moon filly sold for $1 million, with bloodstock agent Hugo Merry signing on behalf of Andrew Rosen for a daughter of the stakes-winning Wild Again mare Shop Again. In both cases, the buyers cited pedigree as a key factor in their purchases.

“What’s not to like about [Malibu Moon]?” Merry asked rhetorically.

At the close of the four-day Book 1 portion and the two-day Book 2 portion of Keeneland September, Malibu Moon had been represented by 46 yearlings who sold for a total of $11,739,000, an average of $255,196.

Malibu Moon entered stud in 2000 at Country Life Farm in Bel Air, Md., after Josh and Mike Pons entered into a partnership with Hughes to stand his well-bred colt, who had been forced into early retirement by injury. Seven yearlings from Malibu Moon’s first crop – conceived at a stud fee of $3,000 – were sold at public auction in 2002, averaging $12,600.

Malibu Moon sired four crops in Maryland, with champion juvenile male Declan’s Moon emerging from his second crop. Taking a chance in the central Kentucky market off that success, Hughes and the Ponses moved Malibu Moon to the late Dr. Tony Ryan’s Castleton Lyons in Lexington in 2004, then to Spendthrift for the spring of 2008 following Ryan’s death. The stallion, who stood his first season in Kentucky at $10,000, had an advertised fee of $70,000 in 2013 after being among the country’s top 10 sires in each of the past three years.

Malibu Moon’s average yearling price rose from $91,453 in 2009 to $152,364 in 2010, when the figure was fueled by Dress the Part, a filly purchased for $700,000 by Glen Hill Farm at the Keeneland September sale; until this year’s sale, she ranked as her sire’s highest-priced yearling.

After dropping to $107,532 in 2011 – when the sire’s top seller was eventual graded stakes winner Freedom Child, purchased for $350,000 by West Point Thoroughbreds at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale – Malibu Moon’s yearling average has risen each year since. With Red Carpet Miss, a $550,000 purchase by Glen Hill at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga, topping the list, his average was $147,088 last year. Boosted by the early Keeneland September results, his 2013 average was $226,492 through last Sunday.

“In the beginning, he just didn’t have the mare power behind him,” Toothaker said. “When he got here, he started at $10,000, and then went to $17,500, and up to $25,000, but he wasn’t getting those powerhouse mares that now he has earned by what his horses have done on the racetrack. It just goes kind of hand-in-hand, that as the mares have gotten better, the market has responded to him better.”

Malibu Moon has been predominantly known as a sire of outstanding racemares, with daughters that include Grade 1 winners Life At Ten, Devil May Care, Ask the Moon, Malibu Mint, Malibu Prayer, Eden’s Moon, and Funny Moon. Kentucky Derby and Florida Derby winner Orb was his first Grade 1-winning son since Declan’s Moon.

Besides Orb, Malibu Moon has been represented this year by two other prominent male runners: Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes winner Freedom Child and Grade 2 Saratoga Special winner Corfu. The latter was purchased at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale for $185,000 by Breaking Point Farm, which successfully pinhooked him for $675,000 to Coolmore at the Barretts March sale of select 2-year-olds in training. Toothaker believes this trio of colts has helped to boost Malibu Moon commercially.

“Both of [his seven-figure yearlings] are fillies, which we’re tickled to death about,” Toothaker said. “But what we’ve been so excited about this year is all the colts showing up – from Orb to Freedom Child to Corfu. It’s really now taken him to another level.”