Keeneland’s reformatted Week 1 of the September Yearling Sale produced eight million-dollar-plus horses and fueled significant increases in trade during Monday’s opening premier Book 1.
Leading the action was a $2.7 million Tapit filly purchased by Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier to be the most expensive yearling sold at public auction in North America this year and the highest-priced filly sold at the September Sale since 2008.
For the session, Keeneland sold 95 yearlings for a gross of $54,175,000, up 56.89 percent from the $34,531,000 posted for the opening session of last year’s three-day Book 1.
Substantial increases also were recorded in the session average of $570,263, up 78.36 percent from last year’s $319,731, while the median price of $500,000 was 86.92 percent higher than $267,500 in 2016.
Eight million-dollar horses were sold in today’s session, one less than were sold during last year’s entire September Sale. The top 10 highest-priced horses were purchased by eight individual interests representing both U.S. and foreign buyers.
“The first day, Book 1 session far exceeded our expectations,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said.
“We had a couple of goals for this new format. First and foremost, we wanted to create momentum from the very beginning that we hoped to take through the entire sale. Second, we wanted to have as many good horses as we could (during Week 1) for this international buying group.
“Mission accomplished on No. 1. If you look at the numbers, the average today was $570,263. The average for the entire (three-day) Book 1 last year was $347,471. That is a 63% gain on the average and 66% gain in the median ($500,000 versus $300,000) from last year’s Book 1.”
Keeneland revised the format of the September Sale to increase the number of upper-market horses presented to prospective buyers during Week 1 of the sale. A total of 167 elite yearlings were cataloged for today’s exclusive one-day Book 1 session, which will be followed by 1,036 top-quality yearlings over the next three days in Book 2. As a result, a total of 1,203 yearlings are cataloged during Week 1 before the sale takes a one-day hiatus (on Friday) versus 607 during the three-day Book 1 that made up Week 1 of the 2016 auction.
“We put as many good horses as we could in front of these folks, and there are incredibly good horses coming up in the next three days of Book 2,” Elliston said.
“The fireworks are not over, I promise you that. There were a lot of buyers who went home without their orders filled and they are not satisfied. These breeders are bringing incredible horses back for the Book 2.”
As an added incentive, Keeneland this year debuted its September Sale Bonus Program, which comprises two components: the Book 1 Bonus and Seller Bonus. The Book 1 Bonus targets Grade or Group 1 stakes winners that sold as yearlings in the premier Book 1 portion of the September Sale. The Seller Bonus extends opportunities for rewards to all eligible graded or group stakes winners sold in any book of the September Sale.
Monday’s $2.7 million filly, who is out of the Grade 2-placed Beau Genius mare Pretty ‘n Smart, is a full sister to this year’s Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) winner, Cupid, and a half-sister to Grade 3 winners Heart Ashley and Ashley’s Kitty and stakes winner Indianapolis. She was consigned by VanMeter-Gentry Sales, agent.
“We’re really excited,” Tom VanMeter said. “She is a beautiful filly. She had probably the best pedigree in the book. It was an awesome price and we’re excited. That mare (Pretty ‘n Smart) has been very good to us. I think we have sold something like $7 million (worth of horses at public auction) out of her.”
“She’s a very well-bred filly and she’s very good-looking,” Magnier said. “Let’s hope she’s anywhere as good as he (Cupid) is.”
A Tapit colt from the family of the late champion and leading sire Saint Liam and 2017 Grade 1 winner Gun Runner sold to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $2.6 million.
“I love Tapits as I buy them, breed them and sell them,” Pope said. “I have other members of this family and I know it is going to be a continuing successful family. He is a strong horse with good bone and substance. He seems to be very good-minded. I am hoping he will be another Gun Runner. I figured the price would be around $2 million so I stretched a little further. I really believe in this family. This is the most I have spent on a colt.”
Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, consigned the colt, who is the first foal out of the stakes-placed Medaglia d’Oro mare Miss Besilu.
“First of all, give the credit to Three Chimneys (Farm); they bred and raised the horse,” Mark Taylor of Taylor Made said.
“When we went (to the farm), we didn’t really know what horses we were going to get to sell for them. When we saw this horse we were like, ‘Wow.’ We look at thousands of horses every spring, and when he came out I was like, ‘Yeah that's pretty close to the best one I've seen.’ We knew he would be very popular.
“I’m happy for Mandy Pope. (He’s a) beautiful horse, so we had really high expectations, but you never know. Once you get into seven figures it’s just a matter of who wants them the most. If he runs the way he looks like he can, with that pedigree, he’s one of the few horses that can command huge upside as a stallion. Anyway, he’s got everything; now all he’s got to do is just run to his looks.”
Tapit also is the sire of the day’s third-highest priced yearling, a colt out of Grade 1 winner Tiz Miz Sue, by Tiznow, sold to Shadwell Estate Company Ltd. for $2.5 million. He was consigned by Paramount Sales, agent.
“Fantastic,” Paramount co-owner Gabriel Duignan said.
"Coming in, we knew he would sell well but we didn’t expect that much. We knew we had all the right people on him. We were confident he was going to sell good but it all came together and we are delighted.
“This is for my longest client, Mrs. Ran Ricks (whose CresRan bred and raced Tiz Miz Sue),” he added.
“This is the third generation of horses I have raised for her. As I tell her ‘She is not my oldest client; she is my longest client.’ ”
Donato Lanni, agent, paid $1.9 million for the War Front colt who is the first foal out of Grade 1 winner Iotapa, by Afleet Alex. He was consigned by Taylor Made.
“He’s a nice horse,” Lanni said. “That is what they cost. He looks like a good horse, a strong horse, an athletic horse. He was high up on our short list.”
Larry Best’s Oxo Equine purchased three yearlings for a total of $3.41 million, including two for more than $1 million. He paid $1.6 million for a daughter of War Front out of Group 3 winner Aloof (IRE), from the family of 2017 multiple Group 1 winner Churchill. She was consigned by Timber Town, agent.
“I was looking for a War Front filly for a while, and this one just stood out: beautiful, beautiful horse,” Best said.
“I went back to see it probably 15 times. I wanted to confirm my first instinct. But I saw it in the ring and loved it, still love it, I just hope it can run. I’m going to check on the hurricane conditions down there (in Ocala, Florida) before I ship, but hopefully it will be going to Eddie Woods (Training Center to enter training).”
Oxo Equine paid $1.25 million for the Medaglia d'Oro filly out of Canadian Horse of the Year Sealy Hill. A half-sister to Canadian champion Hillaby and Grade 3 winners Belle Hill and Gale Force, she was consigned by Gainesway, agent.
Best said he thought the filly would bring a high price.
“(She's) a beautiful Medaglia d’Oro filly, and the first dam is very productive,” Best said.
“(She’s) just a horse I liked. A year ago I bought my first Medaglia d'Oro filly here. I love the filly I have, (she’s) doing very well in training. Yes I like Medaglia d’Oros.”
“This filly has always been nice,” Brian Graves, Gainesway’s director of public sales said.
“We brought her to the market, and she brought more than we thought she would.”
Shadwell paid $1.2 million for a War Front colt out of Group 3 winner Theyskens’ Theory, a half-sister to champion Stevie Wonderboy, consigned by Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services, agent.
For Phoenix Thoroughbreds, Kerri Radcliffe Bloodstock paid $1.1 million for the session’s final seven-figure horse, a colt by War Front who is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Parranda. Out of the Rahy mare Dynamic Feature, he was consigned by VanMeter-Gentry Sales, agent.
Radcliffe said the colt would race in Europe and likely be trained by her husband, Jeremy Noseda.
“We all know War Front’s great on the turf at home, (and) the results he’s got in England this year have been incredible, so I wanted to get a nice War Front here,” Radcliffe said. “(The colt) was scopey, great depth and great walk – most Europeans like that. I paid less than I expected to pay for him, actually, so I’m pretty happy.”
The session’s leading buyer, Shadwell acquired eight horses for $6,825,000.
Taylor Made was the leading consignor, selling 17 horses for $11,525,000.
The September Sale continues through Saturday, Sept. 23.
Total Sale Statistics
Session Top Buyers
Session Top Consignors
Session Top Hips