No fewer than 25 seven-figure lots helped fuel a glittering evening of trade at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale in Lexington, Kentucky, on Tuesday. When all was done and dusted, 154 horses had turned over $101,281,000 for an average of $657,669 (+10%) and median of $295,000 (+18%). The average and median represented increases from 2022 – a rarity for this sales season. It was also the third consecutive year that the $100 million barrier had been reached.
Two racemares, the Grade 1 winners Goodnight Olive and Nest, brought $6 million apiece and in a treat for American racing fans, early indications are that both will stay in training for 2024.
As ever, there was strong participation from Japanese interests but encouragingly, the domestic buying bench was noticeably strong as newcomer John Stewart again flexed his muscles, in this instance to the tune of $13.35 million, alongside the likes of Spendthrift Farm, who came away with five mares worth $7.7 million, and Godolphin, who went to $4 million for Grade 1 Starlet Stakes winner Faiza.
Lexington local John Stewart, the founder and managing partner at MiddleGround Capital, jumped into the business in a big way during the Keeneland September Sale when signing for $8.425 million worth of yearlings alongside Gavin O’Connor. Currently close to purchasing the Midway arm of Shadwell’s operation in Kentucky, Stewart further underlined his intention to compete at racing’s top table with a flurry of high-profile purchases on Tuesday evening led by Saturday’s facile Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Goodnight Olive for $6 million. The daughter of Ghostzapper, whose other accolades for former owners First Row Partners and Team Hanley include wins in the Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap, 2022 renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and Grade 1 Madison Stakes, is due to return to trainer Chad Brown.
“That kind of quality, pedigree along with her success – we need to keep those horses here,” said Stewart. “That was my main objective.
“I think she still has some opportunity to still run and add to what she’s already done.”
He added: “I’d made my mind up to buy her. Once I’ve decided to buy it, I’m buying it. They could have bid what they wanted, that horse was going home with me.”
Stewart’s other purchases included Bobby Flay’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Pizza Bianca, who realised $3 million in foal to Into Mischief, and Queen Caroline, the dam of champion two-year-old Forte who was sold in foal to Flightline for $3 million. Overall, the covering average for Flightline checked in at a mighty $1.64 million.
Mike Repole, meanwhile, bought out his partners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House at $6 million to secure the brilliant filly Nest. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Nest won the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at two and the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at three prior to running second in the Kentucky Oaks and Belmont Stakes. The daughter of Curlin subsequently landed the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade 1 Alabama Stakes en route to being crowned champion 3-year-old filly. Although compromised by a fever that delayed her four-year-old campaign, she returned this year to win the Grade 2 Shuvee Stakes and run third in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes.
“At that price I wanted to give her another shot,” said Repole. “I wanted to bring her back and hopefully she’ll be 100%. I think she has some unfinished business. If not, I own a couple of stallions, including Uncle Mo and she could have a date with him.”
Spendthrift’s haul was led by the Kentucky Oaks heroine Secret Oath, for whom they went to $3 million with an eye on a visit to the farm’s champion sire Into Mischief.
Among the high-profile fillies and mares on their way to Japan is the Prix du Moulin heroine Sauterne. The daughter of Kingman was unsold at £1.2 million at the Goffs London Sale in June, since when she has continued to progress with placings in the Prix Jean Prat and Prix Rothschild preceding her Moulin win over Big Rock. As such, she was a higher-prized commodity this time around when offered out of Nicky Drion’s draft, falling to Emmanuel De Seroux’s Narvick International on behalf of Grand Stud for $4.2 million. De Seroux and Grand Stud also teamed up to purchase Grade 1 winner And Tell Me Nolies for $2.3 million.
Katsumi Yoshida, meanwhile, came away with the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes winner Search Results at $3.6 million and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies heroine Wonder Wheel at $3.2 million. Shadai Farm signed at $2 .3 million for Grade 2 winner Ain’t Easy in foal to Curlin and at $1.3 million for the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes winner Shantisa; the daughter of Coulsty had once been a 10,000gns breeze-up purchase by Federico Barberini.
It was heartening to see Shadwell Farm active within the foal section, with the operation going to $500,000 for the session-topping youngster, a Munnings filly out of Grade 3 winner Summer In Saratoga. It also paid $400,000 for a Gun Runner filly out of dual stakes producer Classofsixtythree.