A frenzied final half hour of trade set the seal on an encouraging second session of the Keeneland September Sale in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday.
A total of nine yearlings realised $1 million or more, four of whom sold within the final 11 lots. They were led by a son of Tapit bred by Barbara Banke, who became the overall sale-topper with a valuation of $2 million from the high-powered partnership of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Robert LaPenta, Gainesway and Winchell Thoroughbreds.
“For 30 minutes at the end of the sale we felt like there was no COVID,” Keeneland President-Elect and Interim Head of Sales Shannon Arvin said.
The session featured the sale of 100 yearlings for a total of $44,535,000 and an average of $445,350. The median was $360,000.
Cumulatively, 209 horses have grossed $85,215,000, for an average of $407,727 and a median of $330,000. Fourteen yearlings have been sold for $1 million or more through the first two sessions and were purchased by 13 different domestic and international buyers.
Due to the differing nature of this year’s Book 1 catalogue, direct year-to-year comparisons are not strictly applicable. However, as a measure against 2019, when Book 1 consisted of three sessions, the average sits 14% behind last year’s figure of $471,950. The median, however, is only seven per cent adrift.
One sticky spot remains the clearance rate of 60.4% while as on Sunday, Monday’s session was afflicted by a rash of late withdrawals.
On the positive side, however, the day did feature a welcome leap into the market by Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate Company. Very conspicuous by their absence at the Goffs UK Premier Sale in Doncaster, the BBAG September Sale in Germany and Arqana Select Sale in Deauville while moving on breeding stock privately in the US, the outfit spent a total of $2.475 million on three yearlings on Monday headed by $1.6 million for a Medaglia d’Oro half-sister to Sergei Profokiev.
“It was a frantic end to the session, and we appreciate Barbara Banke for her support of Keeneland and congratulate her on having another top-priced horse,” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell said, referring to the breeder of the session-topper. “Under the current circumstances, we are very pleased with the session. We are back to that great intensity of bidding, the going back and forth. The atmosphere and electricity returned, so that is wonderful.”
The book-topping son of Tapit was bred by Banke’s Stonestreet Bred & Raised out of the top-class racemare Tara’s Tango, whose five wins included the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes. By Unbridled’s Song, the mare is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Visionaire and Grade 3 winners Scarlet Strike and Madison’s Luna. He was sold through Eaton Sales.
Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners signed the ticket for the colt.
“Partnerships are so prevalent in today’s market,” Wellman said. “It is wild to think how far partnerships have come. We had a fabulous relationship with Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stable going back to when Eclipse first started. To think how the partnership model has evolved and that now we as a partnership company are partnering with moguls in the industry. It speaks volumes.
“Barbara Banke has been gracious about staying in as a partner,” he continued. “She adores this colt. Hopefully between all of us we have plenty of good mojo. All I care about is that you are interviewing our partnership after [the colt] wins a Grade 1.”
Larry Best’s affinity for Into Mischief is no secret and the OXO Equine LLC owner continued to add to his band on Monday, going to $1.9 million for a daughter of the leading sire out of the stakes-winning Taylor S bred by Albaugh Family Stables and sold through Taylor Made Sales Agency. The filly is a granddaughter of Albaugh’s outstanding producer Miss Macy Sue, a Grade 3 winner herself who is the dam of Grade 1 winner Liam’s Map in addition to the Grade 1-placed Not This Time, now a leading first-crop sire.
“Book 1 has been unbelievably strong,” said Best, who also paid $1 million for an Into Mischief colt on Sunday. “It blew away my expectations. Keeneland should be very happy.”
On a day fuelled by demand for well-bred fillies, the Into Mischief – Taylor S yearling was one of seven members of the fairer sex to break seven figures.
Four of them were daughters of the venerable Medaglia d’Oro led by the half-sister to Cornwallis Stakes winner Sergei Profokiev who commanded $1.6 million from Rick Nichols of Shadwell Farm.
The filly was bred in Canada by David Anderson’s Anderson Farms out of the Tapit mare Orchard Beach.
“She is a beautiful filly – the kind you have to have,” Nichols said. “Sheikh Hamdan told me this morning to try to concentrate on getting some really nice fillies. We send all of our good fillies to England, and he keeps promising to send them back [but he doesn’t]. Our broodmare band is starting to get a little old, and we need to rejuvenate it a little bit. I am pretty sure she will stay [in the U.S.] because the Medaglia d’Oro’s seem to do better here.”
Anderson added: “I’m very emotional right now. I bred the mother and I bred this filly and she’s probably the most athletic filly I’ve ever had on the farm. We came here fairly confident that everyone would feel the same way I do, and I know that Mr. Nichols bought her for Shadwell. I want to thank Mr. [Joe] Allen for being the underbidder on the filly. There were many wonderful people that I respect that came by to see the filly and bid on her. It means a lot to a little guy from Canada.”
European participation was muted although Joseph O’Brien is set to take charge of a Kitten’s Joy filly purchased for $800,000 by Scott Heider, owner of last week’s Park Hill Stakes winner Pista.
Jamie McCalmont also spent a total of $1.2 million on a pair of colts by Uncle Mo on behalf of MV Magnier.
Among the other European-based agents, Joseph Burke also went to $200,000 for a Caravaggio relation to Saturday’s impressive Leopardstown Group 3 winner Tiger Moth. The colt was one of three to sell by his sire over the book for an average of $300,000.
Fellow Coolmore first-crop sire Churchill was also represented by a colt who made $180,000 to Winchell Thoroughbreds.
Taylor Made Sales Agency retained their usual spot as leading consignor thanks to the sale of 38 yearlings for a total of $14.435 million.
Donato Lanni, buying on behalf of the SF/Starlight/Madaket partnership, led all buyers as the purchaser of 12 horses worth $5.905 million. Once again, there was no activity from Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin, last year’s leading buyer.
Following a dark day on Tuesday, the sale continues on Wednesday with Book 2.