05/30/2016 12:00PM

Pikes keep it in the family with their Uncle Mo

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The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training was truly a family affair for the Pike Racing consignment operation.

The sale was topped by a $1 million Uncle Mo filly whom Al Pike decided to pinhook for a longtime client because he was familiar with her family – and he watched her go through the ring for a near-record price with his wife, Salley, and son Colt, both integral parts of his operation, alongside.

“You never expect to do that,” Pike said while sitting outside the filly’s stall in Timonium, Md., shortly after the hammer fell. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and that’s the first time I’ve done it. It’s rare, and it’s exciting, and we’re really glad.”

Al Pike, a native Texan, was raised on a ranch and trained Quarter Horses before migrating to the Thoroughbred industry. The Pikes now base their operation out of the Copper Crowne Training Center near Opelousas, La. Despite the availability of several earlier-season 2-year-old sales in Florida and Louisiana that are more conveniently located, the Pikes have chosen to focus their consignments on the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale.

“We didn’t go to Florida this year. We saved our better horses for here,” Al Pike said. “We’ve had a lot of luck here in the past. We’ve always been treated really well here, and we love [Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales director Paget Bennett], we love Fasig-Tipton, so we saved our best horses for here. And it really made for a more pleasant winter because we weren’t under the gun to get ready for all those early sales. We had more time.”

Previous Pike Racing graduates out of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale include Vyjack, sold for $100,000 to Pick Six Racing in 2012, and Vicar’s in Trouble, sold for $80,000 to Ken and Sarah Ramsey in 2013. Both went on to become multiple Grade 2-winning millionaires.

This year, the Pikes brought six horses to Maryland, highlighted by the Uncle Mo filly, who they said benefited from every day of extra time prior to the sale. The filly, bred in Kentucky by Tom VanMeter, Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds, and Fox Strauss, failed to meet her reserve with a high bid of $80,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale. Pike, who was familiar with her family, subsequently privately purchased her as a resale prospect for client Danny Saloom, making Pike one of those lucky pinhookers to pick up an Uncle Mo foal before the phenomenal young stallion began shattering records.

“She caught my eye because she’s beautiful and was a half-sister to a horse I had last year named Cadryrn, who’s a pretty good horse,” Pike said, having sold Cadryrn for $160,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale. “I thought a lot of him. I can see some similarities to him. At the moment, we didn’t know Uncle Mo was gonna be doing what he’s done. She had a few little issues, a few little flaws, but she outgrew most of them and turned into a beautiful filly, and we thought she was pretty special all winter.

“Obviously, it’s a great year to have an Uncle Mo,” Pike added. “This was a special filly anyway, but this just put her over the top and made her a million-dollar filly.”

The filly impressed in her early breaking and training, showing a strong desire to strut her talents on the track.

“In the barn area, she’s real quiet,” Pike said. “She’s easy to do things with. But on the racetrack, she just loves to go. She wants to do too much. She doesn’t want to just go gallop, she wants to go faster. When we breeze, she wants to go faster than we want her to. But maybe that’s what’s gonna make her special.”

Those qualities made her stand out upon her arrival in Maryland. The filly tied for the fastest quarter-mile of the under-tack preview show, breezing in 21 2/5 seconds. She subsequently attracted a huge run of potential buyers and their entourages to examine her in the barn area, including trainer Linda Rice. The trainer purchased her on behalf of New York-based owners Chester and Mary Broman. The price tag trails only last year’s $1.25 million Smart Strike filly in Fasig-Tipton Midlantic history.

“The next morning [after her breeze], the vets started coming and checking on her. I think she got people’s attention,” Pike said, beaming upon given the news that the Bromans had purchased the filly. “Obviously, we love the filly, and we’re thrilled that she’s gonna go to someone like Linda Rice, who’s gonna give her every opportunity to be as good as she’s gonna be.”

The Pike consignment wasn’t a one-hit wonder by any means. Of the six juveniles, five sold, for an average price of $252,000. The next highest-priced offering of the consignment was a $175,000 Into Mischief colt purchased by Zayat Stables.