01/13/2017 1:50PM

Turf Club becomes first white Thoroughbred sold thrice at auction

Keeneland photo
Hip 981, Turf Club, a registered white horse, sold for $3,000 at the Keeneland January Sale on Jan. 10, 2017.

There was little fanfare when the hammer fell at $3,000 for Turf Club at the Keeneland January sale of horses of all ages, but that did not make the moment any less historic.

The speckled broodmare became the first registered white Thoroughbred to change hands at a North American public auction for a third time, going to Diane Krasznay of Mechanicsville, Md.-based Heart’s Desire Farm on Wednesday.

“I think the fact that she’s a registered white Thoroughbred is pretty unique and exciting,” Krasznay said of her decision to pursue the mare. “The fact that she was in foal to Daredevil was another appealing part of it.”

Turf Club is part of an ultra-select group of white Thoroughbreds offered at auction since The Jockey Club began registering horses under the color in 1963. Just 13 North American-bred white horses have auction records with the breed registry, having been offered a combined 16 times.

While they stand out in the Thoroughbred gene pool, the lack of significant ontrack success by white horses has not endeared them to the commercial market. The average hammer price for a white Thoroughbred is $27,476; removing buybacks from the equation bumps the number up to $33,410.

The first white Thoroughbred on record at a public sale was also the most expensive. Silver Mystique, a filly by the prominent white-producing stallion Airdrie Apache, brought $85,000 as a weanling at the 1999 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select mixed sale.

Bred in Kentucky by Lost Creek, Turf Club brought $40,000 during her first trip through the ring, going to Naveed Chowhan at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky summer yearling sale. She placed in one of six starts for Chowhan before entering his broodmare band.

Turf Club was later offered at the 2013 Keeneland January sale, where she sold to a group including Jay Goodwin and Andrew Cary, both partners in Select Sales, which consigned the mare Wednesday.

“We bought her a few years ago in foal to Old Fashioned, who was doing pretty well at the time,” Cary said. “She was a good-looking mare. We bought her for basically [Old Fashioned’s] stud fee.”

According to Jockey Club guidelines, a registered white horse qualifies for the designation when “the entire coat, including the mane, tail and legs, is predominantly white,” without further elaboration. This, of course, leaves room for interpretation, and Turf Club is far from a pure white, with brown eye patches, a medicine hat, and spotting across her body resembling a paint horse.

“Physically, she’s beautiful,” Cary said. “She kind of looks like a Quarter Horse. She’s got a great hip, she’s really well balanced. She’s not a snow-white color herself, but she’s got the pigmentations.”

The Old Fashioned filly Cary’s group bought in utero, Passionforfashion, came out solid white and is Turf Club’s only registered white foal from seven tries. More importantly, her two foals to race are both winners.

Breeding for color has become more prominent than ever, with 68 percent of the 179 white foals recognized by The Jockey Club being born in the past decade. However, Cary said, Turf Club’s matings were planned with commercial appeal in mind, not odds of recreating the color.

Regardless, that did not dampen the group’s hopes when they sent Turf Club to champion Hansen, a nearly white stallion classified as gray or roan, in 2012. The cross produced a chestnut colt named Squire Creek, who Cary said showed tremendous potential but was euthanized following a training accident at Saratoga prior to his debut.

“It was really unfortunate her Hansen died because he had a ton of talent,” Cary said. “When that happened, we decided to move her on. She’s been a great mare and had nice foals, she’s just been a little bit unlucky.”

Krasznay partners on several mares with Sherry Wingfield of Shawnee, Okla., and Turf Club arrived at Nona Buley’s Rocking BB Ranch in Tecumseh, Okla., shortly after her purchase.

Krasznay said Turf Club was a spur-of-the-moment purchase based on the price and her budget, but she quickly acquainted herself with the nuances of owning and breeding white Thoroughbreds.

Shortly after buying Turf Club, Krasznay reached out to Rony Jude, the German veterinary researcher who originally did genetic testing on the mare, to learn more about her heredities and improve her chances of producing white foals. She plans to share the live stream of Turf Club’s stall cam when the mare approaches her due date so fans can learn the color of her Daredevil foal in real time.

“Obviously, getting a white foal would be exciting, so we’ll have to see what the genetics are and make a plan for her,” she said. “I know a lot of people breed for color in other breeds, and it’s a pretty unique type of Thoroughbred, so it’s definitely something I’d be interested in propagating in the future.”