Keeneland January Sale Day 2: Robust & Record Setting

(Mrs. McDougal sets record at Keeneland January Sale on Tuesday / Photo courtesy of Keeneland)

It may be cold and yucky outside. There may be mud puddles and rain drenches full of water around. The weather is, well, January-like.

But inside the Keeneland sales pavilion? It is, for the most part, sunshine and rainbows. It is September, all over again. It is time sales time and time to sell.

On Tuesday, during the second session of Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale, the world’s largest and most successful Thoroughbred auction house was the site where Grade 2 winner Mrs McDougal, the final horse in the ring, became the sale’s highest-priced offering when she sold to Steven W. Young, agent, for $1.6 million.

Mrs McDougal and a yearling colt from the first crop of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah that sold for $1 million today are the most seven-figure horses sold at the January Sale since 2013.

Their sales contributed to a second consecutive day of strong trade at the January Sale. On Tuesday, Keeneland sold 229 horses for $15,036,900, up 35.96 percent from last year’s second session when 221 horses grossed $11,059,600. The average of $65,663 is 31.21 percent above $50,043 last year. The median of $25,000 remained unchanged from 2017.

Cumulatively, 415 horses have sold for $28,302,000, up 31.19 percent from $21,573,600 for 384 horses sold last year. The average of $68,198 increased 21.39 percent from $56,181 in 2017, and the median of $37,000 is 23.33 percent higher than $30,000 last year.

“The session was very strong,” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell said, “and it shows a continuation of what started here at the September Yearling Sale: the great enthusiasm in the market, a great desire to own horses at the moment be they broodmare prospects like Mrs McDougal or an American Pharoah yearling. Selling two million-dollar horses in January shows the strength of the market.

“When you’re spending a lot of money, you have to be selective,” he said about the quality of horses buyers seek. “When you play at that top end, these horses have criteria they have to meet. These are long-term investments. You’re going to have broodmares for a while so you might as well make sure you get the right one.”

Eaton Sales, agent, consigned Mrs McDougal, a 6-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro out of the stakes-winning Distorted Humor mare Distorted Passion. She won the 2015 Lake George (G2) at Saratoga and 2016 Noble Damsel (G3) at Belmont Park. She was offered as a broodmare prospect.

“She is a terrific filly who, early in her career, was arguably the best 3-year-old filly on the grass when she won at Saratoga,” said Young, who purchased Mrs McDougal for an undisclosed client. “She trained tremendous on the dirt for (trainer Richard) Mandella after he got her, and I think she has unlimited potential as a broodmare. She’s by Medaglia d’Oro; she crosses with a lot of horses. I think she’s got a heck of a chance. She wasn’t cheap; she was where she probably needed to be.”

With the purchase, Young was the session’s leading buyer. Eaton Sales was the day’s leading consignor, selling five horses for $2,465,000.

(American Pharoah colt sold for $1 million at Keeneland on Tuesday / Photo courtesy of Keeneland)

Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier paid $1 million for the American Pharoah yearling who is a half-brother to Coolmore’s multiple Group 1 winner Caravaggio. The amount is the third-highest price recorded for a yearling colt in January Sale history.

Coolmore stands American Pharoah at its Ashford Stud in Central Kentucky and at Coolmore Australia during the Southern Hemisphere breeding season. The stallion also sired Monday’s session-topping yearling, a colt purchased by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong for $400,000.

“American Pharoah doesn’t need any explaining and (trainer) Aidan O’Brien always believed Caravaggio to be the best sprinter he ever trained, so when our team considered this colt the best individual in the sale it was an easy decision for us to make,” Magnier, who is attending sales in Australia, said in a statement issued after the purchase. “We’re incredibly lucky to have two great partners in Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith who are fully committed to finding the next Caravaggio. We’ll leave it until later in the year before we discuss where this colt will be trained.”

The million-dollar yearling, out of the Holy Bull mare Mekko Hokte, also is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner My Jen. He was consigned by Paramount Sales, agent.

“He deserved that price,” Paramount’s Pat Costello said. “He’s a beautiful horse and Caravaggio was such an incredible racehorse. This horse is so athletic and he moves so beautifully. Every top buyer on the grounds seemed to be on him and he had a ton of (pre-purchase examination) vet work done on him. All the top people in the business were interested.”

Andre Lynch, agent, paid $450,000 for graded stakes-placed winner Banree, a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Gloryzapper cataloged as a broodmare prospect. Eaton Sales, agent consigned the 5-year-old daughter of Macho Uno out of Grand Glory, by Distorted Humor. She is from the family of Grade 3 winner Her Royalty.

“We were hoping to get her a lot cheaper, but she’s one of the nicer mares here so we knew we’d have to spend,” Lynch said. “Physically, we thought she was just one of the best mares here. Great hind end, great walk to her, great disposition.”

Stales producer Spring Eclipse, in foal to Gemologist, sold to Green Leaf Farm for $425,000. Shawhan Place, agent, consigned the 9-year-old Unbridled’s Song mare, who is the dam of stakes winner Bet She Wins. She is out of the stakes-placed Metfield mare Coragil and is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Softly and Grade 3 winner Coragil Cat.
“We bought her for American Pharoah,” Tim Hyde Sr., who signed the ticket, said. “She is a lovely mare. I did not expect to pay that much but at the same time I am glad to have her.”

A yearling son of War Front from the family of European highweight Air Force Blue sold to Baccari Bloodstock for $390,000. Eaton Sales, agent, consigned the colt, whose dam, the Empire Maker mare Circle the Empire, is a half-sister to Air Force Blue’s dam, Chatham. The colt is from the family of champions Flanders and Surfside.

“For me he has a very quick look about him,” Chris Baccari said. “Just a real strong colt. I like the pedigree. Just looked like a very straightforward horse to me. I’ve been trying to buy War Fronts for a while, so I was able to get this one. War Fronts are hard to buy, usually, so I think I got lucky. At any market, if there’s a nice horse they’re hard to buy. It’s hard to sneak up on them.”

Popp Bloodstock paid $300,000 for a yearling filly by Mineshaft out of multiple graded stakes winner Summer Applause, by Harlan’s Holiday. Lane’s End, agent, consigned the filly who is from the family of multiple graded stakes winner Recoup the Cash.

“Beautiful pedigree,” said Gabriel Duignan, who signed the ticket for a partnership as a pinhooking venture.  “Her half-sister (3-year-old Ipanema Beach) looks quite good. Very nice, nice pedigree.”

“She’s an absolute gorgeous filly, and from the day she was born was straightforward,” said Peter Berglar of breeder Stonereath Stud. “The expectations weren’t that high – that (price) was a bit of a surprise – but we’re delighted she made that. I wish the new owners the best. We still have the half-sister, the 3-year-old (Ipanema Beach) and still the mare (Summer Applause) as well.”

The January Sale runs through Thursday. Sessions begin daily at 10 a.m. ET. The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.

At this time of great sadness for our family, we find comfort in knowing that one of the great joys in his life was seeing Oaklawn develop into a national treasure with such a significant economic impact on Arkansas. In addition to the holidays with his family, his favorite time of the year was always the Oaklawn racing season with fans, horsemen and staff.

Family of Charles J. Cella, the owner of Oaklawn Park, upon his passing this week at the age of 81
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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