A $1.4 million daughter of American Pharoah led the way among three million-dollar yearlings to head a steady first session of the Keeneland September Sale in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday.

During the first of two sessions of the sale’s Book 1 catalogue Keeneland sold 95 yearlings for a total of $38,172,000, an average of $401,811 and median of $325,000.

The company’s online platform, a relatively new aspect that was accelerated due to Covid, facilitated the sale of six horses for a total of $2,605,000.

“The sale should be a fun environment,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “It is exciting that we are here, that we are all back together and that we have these phenomenal horses on offer in Book 1. We had complimentary cocktails being passed and brunch being served, a Bluegrass band playing ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ on the auction stage right before the sale started. We worked hard to create that environment, and we got a lot of positive feedback. Book 1 at Keeneland’s September Sale is special, and it deserves to feel that way.”

“Trade was really strong today,” Keeneland Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy said. “There was confidence, and the money was spread out over more horses. The energy on the grounds was very strong. I have not seen the sales pavilion this full in a long time.”

Few yearlings have come into this North American yearling sales season with a hotter update than the session-topping American Pharoah filly.

Already a half-sister to four stakes horses including last year’s Grade 1 Allen Jerkens Stakes winner Echo Town, now a Coolmore stallion, her rich pedigree received a major boost just days before the sale when her two-year-old half-sister Echo Zulu ran out the impressive winner of the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga.

As such, there was a flurry of activity on the filly, with Alan Quartucci of Northshore Bloodstock coming out on top at $1.4 million.

“She looks like a real runner,” Quartucci said. “She has a fantastic pedigree that’s still going forward every day. The filly who won in Saratoga [Echo Zulu] was amazing. [The yearling] was the whole package.”

The filly was offered by Betz Thoroughbreds, who co-bred the youngster with a partnership that included Ashford Stud out of Grade 2 winner Letgomyecho, by Menifee.

Ballymacoll family to the fore

Mt. Brilliant Farm’s decision to tap into European bloodlines reaped rewards in the sale of lot 177, an Into Mischief colt from a noted Ballymacoll Stud family who made $1.35 million to Winchell Thoroughbreds.

It was at the Ballymacoll Stud dispersal at Tattersalls in December 2017 that Greg Goodman of the Kentucky-based Mt. Brilliant Farm, working with agent Marette Farell, went to 400,000gns to secure Superioritycomplex, a winning half-sister to the Listed Galtres Stakes winner Abingdon. By Hard Spun, the mare’s granddam is Yorkshire Oaks heroine Hellenic, also the dam of multiple Group 1 winner Islington.

“He has always been outstanding,” said Goodman. “He’s always done everything right. A calm horse, smart; we’re really happy with him and we’re really happy Mr Winchell got him and that he’s going to a good home.”

The third million-dollar lot of the day came courtesy of an Uncle Mo filly out of the winning Forestry mare Nikki’s Choice for whom Courtlandt Farm went to $1.1 million. Bred by Aaron Sones and sold through Paramount Sales, the filly hails from the further family of Canadian champion Charlie Barley.

“She’s an April foal, but you can see that she’s still a little high behind and see she’s gonna develop still,” Courtlandt’s Ernie Retamoza said. “A real athletic, type-y filly, young mare, fits our program to a T. Not sure where we’ll send her, but we’ll get her home and break her. She acts like she’s gonna be the right type of filly that we’re looking for. Had to stretch, obviously, to get her, but Mr Adam looked at her this morning and loved her – we all loved her – and we felt like she was a filly worth stretching for.”

Strong Japanese participation was led by Hideyuki Mori’s purchase of a first-crop son of American Triple Crown hero Justify for $950,000 from Baccari Bloodstock. A $435,000 Keeneland November pinhook by his consignor, the colt is a half-brother to dual Grade 2 winner Pretty N Cool and out of the stakes-placed Stayclassyandiego.

Overall, Justify ended the day with an average of $432,300. Of the stallion’s 15 through the ring, ten sold for a total of $4.322 million – interestingly, Japanese buyers purchased four for a total of $2.65 million.

The sole lot by Galileo, a daughter of top American racemare I’m A Chatterbox, realised $725,000 to Jr. International Holdings LLC.
Book 1 concludes tomorrow from 1pm (local time).