11/09/2010 3:04PM

Stronach pays $2.55M for Dreamtheimpossible at Keeneland sale

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
Frank Stronach paid $2.55 million to acquire Dreamtheimpossible at the Keeneland November sale on Tuesday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Frank Stronach hit the headlines again Tuesday at Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale, swooping for the $2,550,000 broodmare Dreamtheimpossible, the last of three mares offered in foal to hot sire Galileo.

That and four other million-dollar mares, all sold within about an hour, energized the auction ring. But the session couldn’t keep pace with last year’s figures, which were fueled by the one-off Overbrook Farm dispersal. That dispersal sold 38 horses for $21 million, including $3.1 million Honest Pursuit and $2.3 million Cotton Blossom, among other expensive horses.

Tuesday’s session sold 143 horses for $31,375,000, for a $219,406 average and a $135,000 median. Gross was down 31 percent, while average and median fell 18 percent and 23 percent, respectively, versus last year. Buybacks ticked up to a still-moderate 19 percent, from 13 percent.

Cumulatively, the two-week auction’s first two days grossed $70,345,000 for 326 horses, just 2 percent lower than last season’s total for 295 horses. But the cumulative average of $215,782 was down 11 percent, and the $135,000 median was off by 16 percent. Buybacks overall dropped from 22 percent to 19 percent.

Dreamtheimpossible was the second horse Stronach has purchased for more than $2  million this week. On Sunday, he paid $2.3 million for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Awesome Feather, the likely 2-year-old filly champion, to top Fasig-Tipton’s November sale.

Stronach, bidding via telephone through Eric Hamelback, engaged in a long bidding duel with Mt. Brilliant Farm owner Greg Goodman, who had been hoping to acquire the mare for himself and a partner. Eaton Sales, agent, consigned the 4-year-old chestnut mare, a Group 1-placed stakes winner.

Dreamtheimpossible is a daughter of Giant’s Causeway and out of the famed racemare and $3.5 million earner Spain. But another horse in the pedigree, Dreamtheimpossible’s full brother Plan, probably was the clincher for Stronach, His Adena Springs operation recently bought the 5-year-old Storm Cat horse and will stand him at stud in Kentucky next year. Plan is a Group 3 winner and was runner-up in the 2008 Secretariat Stakes.

Blind Luck’s dam, Lucky One, sold to Japan’s Shadai Farm for $1.85 million and provided the perfect ending to one of the sale’s best stories. Blind Luck has been advertising her dam for the last two racing seasons, and Lucky One came to Keeneland carrying Blind Luck’s full sibling, by Pollard’s Vision.

Lucky One turned out to be well named for Terry and Bill Baker of Fairlawn Farm. The couple won a six-way shake when they claimed Lucky One for $15,000 back in 2005. She had caught their eye earlier that year after she finished behind their own Mystery Yield, and when they pulled up her pedigree they found a familiar name: Lucky One’s half-brother is Ethan Man, whom Bill Baker, a veterinarian, had treated.

“Ethan Man was a lovely horse,” Terry Baker recalled. “He was all heart but had arthritis in his ankles, and that stopped him. But we loved him.”

Terry Baker also had known Allaire DuPont, whose Bohemia Stable homebreds included Lucky One’s sire, Best of Luck.

“Everything she touched turned to gold,” Baker said.

The Bakers bred Lucky One three times to Five Star Day, but she didn’t get in foal. They changed tack, sent her to Pollard’s Vision, and the rest was, well, Blind Luck.

Australian Paul Fudge spent $1.2 million for the Mill Ridge agency’s Elusive Sparkle, a 5-year-old half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner and juvenile champion Street Sense. The Elusive Quality mare was carrying a foal by Street Sense’s sire, Street Cry, and was purchased for Waratah Thoroughbreds, a commercial breeding program. No sooner had the ink dried on that ticket than Northern Farm’s Katsumi Yoshida bid $1.05 million for the Burleson Farm agency’s Fit Right In, dam of 2010 Ballerina Stakes winner Rightly So. Fit Right In, an 8-year-old Out of Place mare, was in foal to Curlin.

The streak of million-dollar horses continued when Blandford Bloodstock bid $1.55 million for Eaton Sales agency’s Heart Shaped, a 4-year-old Storm Cat mare in foal to A.P. Indy. The chestnut mare is a Group 3-placed stakes winner and is a half-sister to A.P. Indy’s Grade 1-winning son A P Valentine.

Despite the flurry of million-dollar mares, sellers fretted that the pool of buyers was shallow. Eaton Sales principal Reiley MacDonald had an exceptionally good day as consigning agent for Dreamtheimpossible and Heart Shaped as well as $625,000 Baroness Thatcher (in foal to Tiznow), who also sold to Katsumi Yoshida.

“The demand has been pretty good, I think, but instead of buying five mares guys are buying one or two,” MacDonald said. “All in all, I think it’s been as good as or better than we expected.”

But he, too, called for stallion masters to revise most fees downward for the 2011 breeding season that starts in February.

“Probably 10 percent can go up, and the rest should come down by 25 percent,” he said. “You know, when you go to pay these stud fees in September or when you’re foaling your mares, it’s getting pretty tough to pay them. These are stud fees people contracted a year ago, some two years ago, and there are a lot of people who have gone out of business.”

Monday’s opening session at Keeneland sold 183 horses for $38,970,000, a 48 percent increase in gross that was helped by a 45 percent increase in the number of horses sold. Average rose 2 percent, from $208,663 to $212,951. But median price fell from last year’s $160,000 to $140,000. Buybacks decreased dramatically, from 32 percent in 2009 to a very low 19 percent this year.

Coolmore Stud purchased the two most expensive mares on Monday, $1.85 million session-topper Society Selection and $1.4 million Golden Ballet, both from the Taylor Made consignment. Multiple Grade 1 winner Society Selection was in foal to Medaglia d’Oro, and Golden Ballet, dam of 2010 Belmont winner Drosselmeyer, was carrying an Unbridled’s Song foal. The $1 million Carribean Sunset, sold by Middlebrook Farm, agent, was the day’s other seven-figure mare; she sold to Australia’s Kia-Ora Stud.

Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum’s Shadwell organization picked up Monday’s top-selling weanling, a $450,000 Street Sense colt out of Time for a Crown that Paragon Farms, agent, sold.

The auction was to continue through Nov. 20, with sessions starting 10 a.m. daily.