11/07/2010 6:50PM

Stronach pays $2.3 million to acquire Awesome Feather

Barbara D. Livingston
Awesome Feather grazes Sunday prior to selling for $2.3 million at Fasig-Tipton.
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The weekend's Breeders' Cup results caused million-dollar ripples Sunday in Lexington, where Juvenile Fillies winner Awesome Feather and Filly and Mare Sprint winner Dubai Majesty were among nine horses to sell for $1 million or more at Fasig-Tipton's November sale. The dam of a third Breeders' Cup victor, undefeated Juvenile winner Uncle Mo, also brought seven figures, but these were not enough to prevent across-the-board declines.

Frank Stronach paid a sale-topping $2.3 million for Awesome Feather, who sold through the Hidden Brook agency. Dubai Majesty later sold to Northern Farm for $1.1 million from the Taylor Made consignment, and the Denali Stud agency sold Playa Maya to Coolmore for $1.65 million. Playa Maya is by Arch, the sire of 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Blame, and was offered in foal to Broken Vow.

Breeders' Cup glamor didn't prevent slides across the board. The one-session auction sold 89 horses for $27,996,500 for an average price of $314,567 and a $130,000 median. The gross was down three percent from last season's total for 80 horses. Average fell 13 percent, and median dropped 24 percent. Buybacks also increased, from 28 percent in 2009 to 33 percent.

"There was plenty of play once you got to a certain level, but prior togetting that level it was pretty sticky," outgoing Fasig-Tipton chairman Walt Robertson said. "Buyers had less money. We were real active the Japanese, and Americans bought a lot of big horses. We probably didn't do as well with the Europeans.

"This is still a struggling economy that we're in," Robertson added. "It applies to everybody. I don't think that you can compare three or five years ago to today without taking a hard look at every other industry that's trying to sell anything right now. It's not easy."

Awesome Feather left the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner's circle Friday and headed straight to auction with one of the best possible catalog updates. Her Juvenile Fillies victory assured she will take the Eclipse Award as North America's top 2-year-old female. But her seller and breeder, Fred Brei of Jacks or Better Farm, never had any doubts about selling the Florida-bred Awesome of Course filly, according to consigning agent Frank Brothers of Hidden Brook Farm.

"Fred's a big proponent of the Florida program," said Brothers. "He breeds there, he races there, he's president of the breeders' association, and he realized that she needed to go where the Grade 1s are and go on to bigger places. He felt it was time to sell her. He owns the sire and owns the dam. Fred's a businessman, and he knows she's going to a good program."

When she was nominated to the Fasig-Tipton sale, Awesome Feather was a Florida stakes-winner with $196,235 in earnings. But she expanded her regional dominance Friday with a 2 1/4-length score over R Heat Lightning in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She's now unbeaten in six starts and a millionaire, with $1,495,746 in earnings. Her sire, Awesome of Course, stood in Oklahoma this year for an advertised fee of just $1,750. Her dam is the graded-placed stakes-winner Precious Feather, by Gone West.

M. V. Magnier, representing his father John Magnier's Coolmore Stud, was asked whether the Irish-based global breeding conglomerate would have sprung for Playa Maya if her Indian Charlie Uncle Mo hadn't extended his unbeaten record to three in the Juvenile, but the younger Magnier wouldn't be drawn out.

"He was very impressive on Saturday, wasn't he? He looks like a proper horse," he said. "She's a nice mare, and he's a very good horse, and he did win."

Fasig-Tipton officials also credited the Breeders' Cup with helping to draw a significant number of overseas-based buyers to the sale. Japanese buyers Northern Farm's Shinsuke Yoshida and Shadai representative Tetsuya Yoshida both came to Fasig-Tipton fresh from Churchill Downs, and both said the favorable yen-to-dollar exchange rate had played a role in their decision to bid big for the fillies and mares they liked.

After signing the $1.1 million receipt for Dubai Majesty, Shinsuke Yoshida said the 5-year-old Essence of Dubai mare's 2 1/4-length Breeders' Cup win Friday was the clincher in Northern Farm's decision to bid, and a favorable exchange rate only made it easier.

The Taylor Made agency consigned her as a racing or broodmare prospect, but buyer Yoshida, representing Northern Farm, said the nearly black mare will retire to the breeding shed in Japan now. Yoshida said the operation has not chosen a stallion for Dubai Majesty yet. "We saw her winning at Churchill Downs, and saw her again this morning," Yoshida said. "We think she is a gorgeous horse."

Yoshida said Dubai Majesty could bring needed speed to the popular stamina-based bloodlines in Japan.

Grade 1 winner Gabby's Golden Gal also will retire to the breeding shed in Japan, said Shadai's Tetsuya Yoshida, who paid $1.25 million for the 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly. Later in the evening, Shadai also paid $1.85 million for English Group 1 winner Serious Attitude after outbidding rivals that included the team of Australian owner Bob Scarborough and Coolmore Stud. Sweezey and Partners consigned the 4-year-old Mtoto filly as a racing or broodmare prospect. She is out of Angelic Sounds, whose other foals include the Group 2-placed Seraphina and stakes-winner Army of Angels.

The night's second-highest price was for a graduate, though not a winner, of the 2009 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic. Trainer Eric Guillot, representing Southern Equine Farm, bid $1.95 million for last year's Alabama winner, Careless Jewel, who was offered as a broodmare prospect by the Hill 'n' Dale agency. Careless Jewel, by Tapit, came into the 2009 Ladies' Classic off a five-race win streak. She finished eighth and did not make it back to the races after trainer Josie Carroll said in May that she had found heat in one of the 4-year-old filly's legs after a workout.

"She's white, Christmas is coming, snowflakes, white," Guillot joked after signing the ticket. "We're all about trying to find foundation mares, and I thought this is one that fits our bill. Her body, her length, her pedigree, her sire, the bottom side (of her pedigree), her race record before she got hurt, it's what we look for. She'll be a nice addition to the Southern Equine broodmare band. I was thinking we'd get her for $1.3 million or $1.4 million, $1.5 million tops. But I had to have her.

"They're not selling a lot of these kind right now, you know," he added. "If they got money, they hold on to these kind. When one comes that we've gotta have, we buy her."

Another all-white mare, Tap Your Heels, was the night's most notable buyback at $1.8 million. The 14-year-old Unbridled mare is the dam of Tapit, a Grade 1 winner and leading third-crop sire. Dromoland Farm consigned Tap Your Heels, who was cataloged in foal to Elusive Quality.

The Fasig-Tipton auction also featured the $1.05 million sale of the Sadler's Wells mare Love to Dance, the first mare in foal to European champion Sea the Stars to sell at public auction. Love to Dance is a three-quarters sister to European Horse of the Year Dylan Thomas and a half-sister to European champion juvenile filly Queen's Logic, who has since produced a Group 2 winner in Lady of the Desert. Reynolds Bell, agent, signed the ticket on behalf of a domestic commercial breeder using the name Alpha Delta. Bell said the buyer is a New York-based client who also made a couple of big mare purchases in 2009, paying $1.7 million for Summer Raven (in foal to Elusive Quality) and $850,000 for Mary Delaney (in foal to Unbridled's Song) from Overbrook Farm's dispersal at Keeneland last November.

Late in the session, Bell returned to the ring for Alpha Delta and snagged Win McCool for $1.05 million. Win McCool a Grade 3 winner whose family history of high-priced yearlings had obvious appeal for a commerical breeder. The 7-year-old Giant's Causeway mare is out of Win Crafty Lady, who also is the dam of Grade 1 winner Harmony Lodge and and Grade 1-placed Graeme Hall. Mike Barnett's Blackburn Farm consigned Win McCool.

Minutes before Win McCool entered the ring, Aaron and Marie Jones--often seen lately as sellers--made a winning $1.1 million bid for Grade 2 winner and Grade 1-plaved Warbling. Taylor Made consigned the 4-year-old Unbridled's Song filly as a racing or broodmare prospect for owner Joseph Sutton.

The auction's highest-priced weanling was a $290,000 Harlan's Holiday filly that Course Investment Corp., as agent, purchased. She is out of Grade 2 winner Silver Comic, by Silver Hawk. The bay filly is a full sister to Grade 2-placed Silver Reunion. Brereton C. Jones's Airdrie Stud consigned the filly.

Among the new players on the buyer's list Sunday was agent Ajay Anne, who signed for three horses totaling $1.495,000 on behalf of a new Dubai-based racing and breeding syndicate that will operate as The Thoroughbred Corp, though it appears unrelated to the late Ahmed Salman's former operation of the same name.

The most expensive of Ajay's purchases was Santa Anita Oaks winner Crisp at $900,000. Bluewater Sales consigned the 3-year-old El Corredor filly as a racing or broodmare prospect. Ajay also purchased $725,000 Little Bonnet, the dam of 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Boys At Tosconova and in foal to Bluegrass Cat, as well as $320,000 Grade 3 winner Sky Mom, in foal to Tiznow. Taylor Made's agency consigned both Little Bonnet and Sky Mom.

Ajay said the fund is still under development but will seek racing, broodmare, and stallion prospects.

The Fasig-Tipton November sale also marked a passing of the gavel when Fasig-Tipton's longtime auctioneer and chairman Walt Robertson hammered down the night's final lot, recent Grade 3 winner Mimi's Bling, to Norman Owens Bloodstock for $200,000. That sale closed out Robertson's career with Fasig-Tipton, which began in 1975 when the company hired him as a bid-spotter.

"There was only one thought in my mind on that last one, and that was getting all the money for her," Robertson said of his final sale at Fasig-Tipton. Robertson, 62, received a standing ovation from the auction attendees and those in the press box who have heard him auction horses of all ages and values for more than 30 years. Although he will no longer be active in the day-to-day operations at Fasig-Tipton, Robertson will continue to auction farm property with the Swinebroad-Denton company in Lexington.