08/12/2016 10:46AM

Songbird's half-sister sells for $800,000

Barbara D. Livingston
Songbird's half-sister sold for $800,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale.

Among the horses generating the most buzz during the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale was a Ghostzapper filly in the Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency shed row who seemingly spent as much time on the walk as she did in her stall. The lean, athletic filly was a daughter of Grade 2 winner Ivanavinalot, making her a half-sister to the champion Songbird, who will try to remain undefeated when she makes her 10th career start next Saturday in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes.

It was just two years ago that Songbird was in the same position as her little sister, being put through the paces by potential buyers at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro sold to Fox Hill Farm for $400,000, which barely registered a blip on the radar of the high-end Saratoga sale.

Songbird was also consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, as agent for breeder John Antonelli.

Donato Lanni, director of bloodstock services for Hill ‘n’ Dale, said he hadn’t seen the champion filly up close since she was a yearling, but he said there were clear points of comparison and contrast between the sisters.

“Songbird wasn’t as big as [the yearling], but they have the same kind of mind,” Lanni said. “They’re both really intelligent. I remember Songbird was an intelligent filly. She did her job and was always willing to do what you asked her to do.”

The yearling filly doubled Songbird’s auction performance, selling to PTK LLC for $800,000. The hammer price made her the second-most-expensive yearling by Ghostzapper to sell at public auction, trailing Ghost Ride, who brought $925,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale.

“She looks a lot like her mom,” Lanni said about the yearling filly. “She’s very scopey, a lot of length and quality over her top line, a beautiful neck and shoulder. She’s a really good mover, a really attractive filly. She’s a really good representation of the sire, and those are the kind you want to bring to Saratoga – star appeal.”

The fall of the hammer marked a bold strike for new owner PTK, the nom de course for Paula, Tom, and Kaitlin Haughey.

Based in Charlottesville, Va., the Haugheys entered Thoroughbred ownership in 1999 and developed their operation into a perennial leading stable at Mid-Atlantic tracks. Competing primarily in the claiming ranks with trainer Dane Kobiskie, PTK has finished in the top 100 nationally by wins every year since 2008 and ranked as high as seventh in 2012.

In recent years, the stable has undergone a paradigm shift, relocating its stock to Kentucky and Florida and aiming to grow its program through the auction ring instead of the claim box. PTK also keeps a broodmare band at Fallbrook Farm in Versailles, Ky.

The Haugheys bought four horses at the Saratoga sale for a combined $1,475,000, also landing a $300,000 Bernardini colt, a $275,000 Speightstown filly, and a $100,000 Awesome Again filly. It was their second year buying at the boutique sale, after spending $900,000 on four yearlings in 2015.

A jubilant Tom Haughey said he was surprised he was able to secure the Ghostzapper filly for $800,000, suggesting he would have gone up to $1.5 million.

Not far away was Kobiskie, who was part of the team scouting horses at the sale, which also included Kaitlin Haughey, PTK’s racing manager and the daughter of Tom and Paula Haughey.

Kobiskie said the filly would be sent to the McCutchen Training Center in Kingstree, S.C., to be broken by Jason McCutchen, with the goal of debuting her on the track in late 2017.

“Her physique was amazing,” Kobiskie said. “Obviously, you’ve got the residual value of the breeding behind her. She’s worth every bit of that. She looks like a runner as well, so how could you go wrong?”

A former jockey, Kobiskie transitioned to training in 2008, first working privately for the Haugheys and later opening a public stable.

Kobiskie, with more than 500 training wins under his belt, said he has never had a horse in his stable with a pedigree like the Ghostzapper filly he helped buy at the Saratoga sale. Despite the lofty price and bloodlines, the trainer said he did not plan to alter his approach with a different level of stock.

“It’s another horse,” he said. “You’ve got to treat them all the same. You start from the beginning, and you go on, and what they turn out they can be, that’s what you do with them.”

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