04/16/2007 11:00PM

Mineshaft filly sets sale mark of $1.75M


LEXINGTON, Ky. - A Mineshaft filly parlayed a world-record breeze time into a sale-record price of $1.75 million Tuesday at Keeneland's juvenile sale in Lexington, Ky.

B. Wayne Hughes purchased the filly, who equaled the mark for an under-tack preview on April 9 when she covered an eighth-mile in 9.60 seconds. Randy Hartley and Dean De Renzo sold the filly. They had bought her for $400,000 from Gainesway, agent, at last year's Keeneland September yearling sale.

Hughes also bought the previous sale-record 2-year-old filly, $1.25 million Lochlin Slew, at the 1999 auction.

One Hot Wish, a juvenile Bring the Heat filly who set a world record of 48.87 seconds for 4 1/2 furlongs in a Keeneland maiden race on April 12, was another much-anticipated offering. But she failed to reach her reserve on a final $300,000 bid and returned to owners Robert C. Tanklage and Wesley Ward.

Offered as Hip No. 86, the sale-leading Mineshaft filly is from the first crop of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft and is out of the Forty Niner mare Stylish Talent. Stylish Talent is a Grade 1-placed runner and is the dam of two winners, the Deputy Minister filly Miss Hannah and the Forestry gelding Forestry Way.

Led by Hip No. 86, the single-session auction grossed $16,637,000 for 82 horses, down 10 percent from last year's total of $18,440,000 for 87 horses. Average slipped 4 percent, from $211,954 to $202,890. Median gained 3 percent, rising from $150,000 to $155,000. But the buyback rate soared, rising from 41 percent last year to 47 percent.

Consignors and buyers alike noted that the auction seemed to continue the market polarization seen at earlier juvenile auctions. Buyers were highly selective, leading to peaks like the Mineshaft filly but also contributing to a large number of outs and buybacks.

Her fast breeze time clearly benefited the sale-topping Mineshaft filly, but her pedigree didn't hurt, either. Hughes, owner of Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, has taken an active interest in breeding and was glad to add this filly to his growing broodmare band.

"That filly," he said after signing the ticket, "is a very unusual filly. You saw her breeze. It was very powerful."

Hughes said that he'll probably send the Mineshaft filly to trainer Richard Mandella.

Seller Randy Hartley was pretty sure Mandella would be impressed.

"She's an awesome filly," Hartley said. "She's been awesome since the first day we put tack on her. She's gonna put Mineshaft on the map."

The owners of One Hot Wish, Tanklage and Ward, had expected "a lot more" than the $300,000 bid for her, said Tom Van Meter, co-owner of One Hot Wish's consigning agent, Eaton Sales. But, he added, they were happy to race her again. Van Meter said One Hot Wish would take time off and probably return to the races at Del Mar.

One Hot Wish created a stir when Tanklage and Ward nominated her to the sale the afternoon of her record-setting win, but two issues compromised her sale. Her pedigree held relatively little appeal for traditional top-of-the-market buyers who could bid on more fashionably bred horses later in the auction. And, as Van Meter put it, "She has one wheel where her conformation is off just a little bit."

The wheel in question, he elaborated, is the filly's left front, which he said toes in and has an offset knee.

"Everybody came to look at her, but we couldn't get them past that," Van Meter said.

"Being so fast and not being perfect, I think people think she's not going to last," he added. "I think she'll last. With the Poly - and they'll take good care of her - I think she'll last."

The "Poly" that Van Meter referred to - the synthetic racing surface called Polytrack - was another big feature of the sale. The Keeneland 2-year-old sale was the first auction to feature under-tack shows on Polytrack, which Keeneland installed last fall and is now helping to distribute in North America in partnership with Martin Collins International. Reputed to be kinder to horses that dirt surfaces, Polytrack and other synthetic surfaces are set to be installed at numerous racetracks across the nation, including all of California's major racetracks.

At the Keeneland sale's breeze shows, the Polytrack contributed to blazing times. In addition to the Mineshaft filly's record-equaling eighth, the April 9 preview also saw two horses, a Yankee Gentleman-Truly Something colt and a Lemon Drop Kid-High Heeled Hope filly, set a world-record preview time of 20.20 seconds for a quarter-mile. The Yankee Gentleman colt sold Tuesday for $400,000 to Zayat Stables and the Lemon Drop Kid filly brought $320,000 from Stephen Hillen.

Most consignors gave rave reviews to the Polytrack, saying it allowed their horses to come back from the fast works with little discomfort.

Many buyers also cheered the new surface.

"There's absolutely no question that these horses are displaying themselves in a more favorable way than they might otherwise have done comfortably," said California-based agent Rollin Baugh, who was representing Japanese and American purchasers. Baugh said that one of his clients "doesn't wish to have their horses raced or prepared at anything but a Polytrack environment."

Whether due to the supposedly kinder surface or not, the Keeneland auction did have a below-average withdrawal rate before the auction opened on Tuesday. At start time, 27 percent of the 227-horse catalog had been scratched, well below the usual rate of about 39 percent at juvenile sales. But that number rose later as consignors withdrew horses they felt would not reach their reserves.