A son of Quality Road led the way during a strong second session of the Keeneland September Sale in Lexington, Kentucky, on Tuesday when selling for $1.6 million.

On a day that featured a greater depth of confidence in trade than Monday’s opener, Keeneland sold 112 yearlings for $52,300,000, for an average of $466,964 and a median of $400,000. Eight yearlings broke the million-dollar mark.

Cumulatively, 208 horses were sold through Book 1 for a total of $90,622,000 and an average of $435,683, up seven per cent from 2020. The median of $350,000 represented a rise of four per cent.

A total of 11 yearlings have sold for $1 million or more, with the prospect of more to come in Book 2.

The RNA rate for Tuesday’s session was 30%, which marked a welcome improvement from the 38.46% recorded on Monday.

Such results were achieved without a single purchase from either Godolphin or Shadwell.

“It was a great couple of days. We’re really excited about the results, about the feeling and the excitement on the grounds,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “You’ve probably heard me say that [retiring Keeneland Director of Sales Operations] Geoffrey Russell likes to talk about the ‘hustle and bustle’, which felt really present. It was a very diverse buying bench. Out of the ten highest prices today, there were nine distinct buyers, which is encouraging to see along with the domestic and international participation.”

“The session was electric, full of optimism,” Keeneland Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy said. “The sellers were having as much fun as the buyers, which across the board is what we’re trying to encourage. That’s an incredible mark when we get to that.

“The median was $350,000 cumulative over the last couple of days, $400,000 for the session alone. I don’t think we’ve ever hit $400,000 [for a session]. Cumulatively it’s just short of 2019, which was a record year. As we go forward, I think it’s really encouraging. It sets a really good tone for Book 2.”

Woodford Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds combined to purchase the sale-topping son of Quality Road sold through Eaton Sales for $1.6 million.

One of two million-dollar lots during the day for his leading sire, the colt is out of Catch The Moon, a jewel within the broodmare band of his breeder Stonestreet Bred & Raised as the dam of four stakes winners. The quartet is led by the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner Girvin, now a stallion in Florida, and also includes this season’s Preakness Stakes runner-up Midnight Bourbon, a recent narrow second in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

Although purchased to race under the Woodford Racing and West Point partnership, likely plans call for breeder Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Thoroughbreds to remain an interest.

“The plan is to gather a partnership together with Woodford Racing, West Point and a few others and Barbara Banke,” Woodford founder Bill Farish said. “He will go to Shug McGaughey.

“The market is strong,” Farish added. “For horses like this, it’s been very, very hard to buy as you can tell by that price. It’s competitive. That’s how we hoped it would be.”

Banke was thrilled with the result but was also looking forward to maintaining an involvement.

“He is fabulous looking and, of course, the mare has had some great foals by some lesser stallions,” Banke said. “I am hoping this one takes it all the way. I think I will be back in for a piece of him. I am excited about that. He was on my list of favourites. We need sire power; we need another sire.”

A big day for Stonestreet also featured the sale of a Curlin colt through Gainesway Sales for $1.3 million.

MV Magnier came out on top for the colt, who is a half-brother to the minor stakes winners Dawn The Destroyer, also Grade 1-placed, and Bronze Star. They are out of Dashing Debby, a stakes-winning daughter of Medaglia d’Oro.

“[Gainesway General Manager] Brian Graves – when we went down to see him first – really, really liked the horse,” Magnier said. “All our guys liked him as well. Barbara Banke, she’s bred some incredible horses over the last couple years. Curlin is doing very well.”

Magnier confirmed that the colt would stay in the US.

Overall, Magnier signed for $5.775 million worth of stock during the course of Book 1. In addition to the Curlin colt, his haul included a pair of first-crop youngsters by Justify – namely a half-sister to top sprinter Runhappy and half-brother to champion Midnight Bisou (bought through Justin Casse) – for $750,000 and $775,000 respectively.

The sale of the Curlin colt came hot on the heels of another highly regarded colt from Gainesway in a homebred son of Tapit who realised $1.3 million to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm. The colt is the second foal out of Listed winner Danzatrice, a three-parts sister to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies heroine Jaywalk.

“I love Tapit, as everyone knows – we’ve been buying a bunch of them,” Pope said. “This one was raised at Gainesway. I have a lot of faith in how they raise their horses and their horsemanship on the farm. I felt like the horse had a good beginning, a good foundation built into him.”

Gainesway also supplied the second most expensive filly of the session in a War Front half-sister to Canadian champion Lukes Alley, who sold for $1.2 million to Seahorse Stables. Another homebred from the Kentucky operation, the filly is out of the stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Vaulcluse.

“All class, everything she is supposed to be and maybe a little better,” said Eddie Woods, who signed the ticket. “Has a little more leg and scope than most of your War Fronts. She vetted perfectly; she may go to Ireland. The client couldn’t travel. I’m just doing a job that normally they would do on their own.”

Unsurprisingly given such a high-profile day, Gainesway ended Book 1 as leading consigner with 23 sold for a total of $12.465 million.

The dearest filly of the day arrived during the evening in the form of an Into Mischief daughter of Grade 1 winner Embellish The Lace. Bred by the China Horse Club and sold through Bluewater Sales LLC, she was knocked down for $1.25 million to Spendthrift Farm, the home of her leading sire.
West Bloodstock, agent for Repole Stable and St Elias, wound up as leading buyer with 13 bought for a total of $6,76 million.

Lane’s End Farm’s Quality Road was the leading sire by average thanks to the sale of 15 lots on a figure of $664,000 ahead of Into Mischief, the sire of 20 yearlings who sold for an average of $640,00.

The leading first-crop sire (with more than one sold) was American Triple Crown hero Justify, whose 25 yearlings to sell averaged $500,800.
European participation was thin on the ground. However, with a number of buyers, particularly breeze-up consignors, having defied all the odds to make it into Kentucky, it will be no surprise to see them feature prominently from Book 2 onwards.