09/10/2006 11:00PM

Storm Cat colt brings $8.2 million


A Storm Cat colt out of the Distorted Humor mare Awesome Humor brought $8.2 million late Monday afternoon to become the early leader of the Keeneland September yearling sale.

Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum purchased the colt, which brought the second-highest price of any yearling sold at the September sale. The underbidder on the colt was the international breeding operation Coolmore Farm, which had been the underbidder on the second-highest priced colt at the sale as well.

The sale-topping colt is the first foal out of Awesome Humor, a winner of the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes and the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes. Awesome Humor is owned by Bill Casner, the co-owner of WinStar Farm in Kentucky.

"To be honest, I have mixed emotions," said Casner. "You have to sell the good ones. This is a business we're running. He's shown something special since the day he was born."

Casner said that the yearling "was the best Storm Cat colt I've ever seen."

John Ferguson, agent for Sheikh Mohammed, said later at the sale that Sheikh Mohammed had been interested in the horse since the spring.

"Sometimes it's different in the spring and summer, before they get to the sale," Ferguson said. "But to be very clear, this was one of the best Storm Cats that Sheikh Mohammed has seen, not just this year, but ever."

When asked whether Sheikh Mohammed had a limit for purchasing the colt, Ferguson said: "I have instructions." When asked whether those instructions included a limit, Ferguson repeated the phrase.

Sheikh Mohammed also bought the second-highest priced yearling at the sale, a Mr. Greeley colt out of the Pivotal mare Silvester Lady.

"He was an outstanding individual," said Ferguson about the Mr. Greeley colt. "I know I've used that phrase before, but he had a tick in every box."

The sale topper was one of 12 horses that had sold for $1 million or more on the first day of the 14-day sale by late afternoon. Of the 12 horses, nine were colts, and six were purchased by Sheikh Mohammed, who is a member of the ruling family of Dubai.

The highest price paid for a yearling at the Keeneland September sale is $9.7 million, for a Storm Cat colt out of Tranquility Lake that Ferguson purchased on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed at last year's sale.

The sale-topping filly, and the third-highest price of the sale's first session, was the first foal out of the multiple Grade 1-winning mare Take Charge Lady, who brought $3.2 million midway through the sale's first day. Trainer Todd Pletcher signed the ticket for the filly by Seeking the Gold, on behalf of James Scatuorchio, the owner of the top-class grass colt English Channel.

Pletcher said that he purchased the filly primarily as a racing prospect, but he also said that the decision was based on the filly's residual value as a broodmare. Take Charge Lady's dam, Felicita, is the dam of two other stakes winners, Eventail and Commendation. Scatuorchio also owns More Than Ready, who stands at Vinery near Lexington for a $30,000 fee.

"He's always looking to breed his mares to More Than Ready, and this filly's pedigree really represented a good cross for him," Pletcher said.

The $3.2 million price was the fifth-highest price paid for a filly in the history of the Keeneland September sale. The highest price, $4.4 million, was paid in 2000 and was also a world-record for a yearling filly purchased at auction.

Earlier in the day, Sheikh Mohammed paid $3 million for a colt by Storm Cat out of Preach, by Mr. Prospector. Sheikh Mohammed also purchased a $2.8 million colt by Vindication out of the Mr. Prospector mare Serena's Tune, herself a daughter of 1995 champion 3-year-old filly Serena's Song.

Serena's Song's eighth foal, a colt by A.P. Indy, brought $1.5 million just before the sale of the colt out of Serena's Tune. The colt was purchased by Nobutaka Tada of Japan.

Early on Monday afternoon, two yearling fillies broke the million-dollar mark by wide margins. Ferguson signed the ticket for Sheikh Mohammed for a $2.8 million daughter of Unbridled's Song out of the Crafty Prospector mare Win Crafty Lady, a graded stakes winner and the dam of three other stakes winners.

"She brought a lot of money because she was one of the best fillies in the sale," Ferguson said.

The third-highest priced filly to sell by late afternoon was a $2.2 million daughter of Storm Cat out of the Quiet American mare Warrior Queen, a stakes-winning sprinter who was the highweight as a 2-year-old at five to seven furlongs. Ira Gumberg, the co-owner of Skara Glen Stables, purchased the filly.