(Union Rags cot snares $1 million bid on first day of Book 2 / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

From the Keeneland Media Team:

Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale resumed Friday, the first day of the two-day Book 2 catalog, with strong trade among a roster of prominent buyers led  by the partnership of SF/Starlight/Madaket, whose spending spree included the purchase of four of the day’s six top-priced horses, including a Union Rags colt for $1 million.

On Friday, Keeneland sold 221 horses for $54,229,000, for an average of $245,380 and a median of $210,000. Through four sessions, 561 horses have sold for $214,692,000, for an average of $382,695 and a median of $300,000.

Book 1 spanned three days this year versus four days in 2018, with Book 2 beginning on Day 4 of the sale. For that reason, comparisons to last year’s corresponding session are not available.

“It was a solid start to Book 2,” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell said. “We made a concerted effort to trim the numbers a little bit for Book 2 this year, cataloging 365 horses today compared to 413 (on the first day of Book 2) last year. Our goal was to continue the quality from Book 1 to Book 2. The numbers are reflective of what’s going on. Sixteen horses brought a half-million or more this year compared to 13 last year.

“Trade was very vibrant; the last hour and half (of the session) was spectacular. All day we saw buyers left over from Book 1. There are buyers buying a lot more horses together this year in Book 2 than they could do in Book 1, so that’s good. It’s very domestically heavy, especially at the top, which is great for our industry. We saw a good cross section of end users and pinhookers already starting to buy. European pinhookers are starting to buy, too. So it was a very good day.”

Lane’s End, agent, was the session’s leading consignor, selling 29 horses for $9,450,000. They included four of the day’s top five highest-priced yearlings: the $1 million Union Rags colt, a $975,000 filly by American Pharoah, a $950,000 colt by Quality Road and an $800,000 colt by Curlin.

“It is a great day,” Bill Farish of Lane’s End said. “We had some really good horses. It was great to see our stallions Union Rags and Quality Road have a great day not just for us but for others. Quality Road’s mare book has gotten better and better, and (these yearlings) are still from a $35,000 stud fee.”

SF/Starlight/Madaket acquired five colts for $3,975,000 to be the session’s leading buyer. Joining the seven-figure colt by Union Rags were sons of Quality Road ($900,000), Curlin ($800,000), Empire Maker ($775,000) and More Than Ready ($500,000).

“It’s been a tough week to buy,” SF’s Tom Ryan said. “We bought no horses the first day, three the second day, none the third day and now here we are in the first day of the second book. There’s a great selection of horses in here today to work with.”

The $1 million colt is from the family of Grade 1 winners Dream Deal, Crème Fraiche, Clear Mandate and Strong Mandate. He is out of the winning Smart Strike mare Miss Squeal.

“He’s a big obvious horse, and competition was strong from all over the ring as I could see,” Ryan said. “We found ourselves in the position where that’s what we had to give if we wanted to buy him.”

Courtlandt Farm went to $975,000 to obtain a filly by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah consigned by Lane’s End, agent for Dixiana Farms. She is out of the winning Indian Charlie mare Momentary Magic and from the family of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify.

“She was actually our top horse out of Book 2; we thought she was Book 1 quality,” Courtlandt Manager Ernie Retamoza said. “She’s definitely the type of horse (Courtlandt owner Donald Adam) is looking to buy. We were saving a little for this book and particularly this filly, so I think we pulled it off.”

Retamoza said the filly would enter training at Courtlandt in Ocala, Florida, then be trained by Mark Hennig.

Texan Tom Durant paid $950,000 for a son of Quality Road who is from the family of classic winners and sires A.P. Indy and Summer Squall. Consigned by Lane’s End, agent the colt is out of the winning Storm Cat mare Storm Showers.

“We are looking for Derby prospects like everybody else out here,” bloodstock agent Josh Stevens, who signed the ticket, said. “We tried (to buy) some earlier and realized how strong the bidding was going to get after a couple of days of watching the prices. We decided to find a couple that we really loved and go after them.

“The horse is an elite physical,” Stevens said. “He has a great walk and everything you want to see. He is well put together and just has that look to him that he could run early and stretch out and get you into those (major) races.”

The $900,000 colt by Quality Road purchased by SF/Starlight/Madaket is a half-brother to stakes winner Saratoga Heater.

“I liked everything,” SF’s Tom Ryan said. “He looked like a very precocious Quality Road. Great balance and an incredible athlete. He really moved effortlessly.”

Nursery Place, agent, consigned the colt, whose dam is the winning stakes-placed Salt Lake mare Hot Spell. Nursery purchased Hot Spell in foal to Morning Line for $85,000 at Keeneland’s 2015 January Horses of All Ages Sale.

Griffin Mayer, son of Nursery Place owner John Mayer, said the $900,000 colt is the most expensive horse the farm has ever sold.

“I would have been ecstatic with four or five hundred thousand. That was a lot of money,” he said, adding he owned the yearling with his dad, brother Walker, his uncle and his two best friends. “Very special.

“(The colt) has always been a really nice horse and coming in here the last couple of days, (we could see) how popular he was. He is aptly named (out of Hot Spell). It has been the hottest couple of days. I have sweated through two shirts already and I wanted to get up here and get this done. Hot commodity, hot day.”

Nursery Place sold all six yearlings it offered Friday for a total of $1.94 million.

“It was a great day for the Nursery Place team,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough for the good work they do. It is a bull market. I thought we had a good group of horses, but this exceeded my expectations.”


The $800,000 Curlin colt sold to SF/Starlight/Madaket is the first foal of the Unbridled’s Song mare Lyrical Moment and from the family of Grade 2 winner Eight Belles.


“He’s a big powerful horse, and Unbridled’s Song is a great broodmare sire,” SF’s Ryan said. “There is depth to his pedigree and there was loads of competition for him. He looks like a very quick, precocious Curlin, and we won’t be surprised if he is a (successful) 2-year-old.”

SF/Starlight/Madaket’s paid $775,000 for Classier, a colt by Empire Maker consigned by Lantern Hill Farm, agent. Out of the winning Bernardini mare Class Will Tell, he is from the family of Grade/Group 1 winners Desert Stormer and White Moonstone and French Group 3 winner Homerique.

SF’s Ryan said the colt was “just balanced – his shoulder and the way his hind end tied in. He’s a beautiful horse. These kinds of horses (are) quite obvious. It doesn’t take a long time to pick them out.

“He’s very well raised, too. He comes from a very good farm, Lantern Hill. A beautiful pedigree, so there’s no reason not to get excited.

“It is a very strong sale,” Ryan added, “There are a lot of high-quality horses in the market. There’s a lot of money around coming from all corners of the world.”

“This is the first colt I have sold for Mary Sullivan,” Lantern Hill owner Suzi Shoemaker said. “She bred and raced (multiple Grade 1 winner) Get Stormy (among others). She never sells – she just races, but I managed to talk her into selling this horse. He was perfect in every way. Over the years, I have seen (some of her) horses that would fit a sales program. This year she decided to give it a try.”

Solis/Litt acquired a son of Speightstown from the family of 2019 Woodward Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) winner Preservationist for $700,000. Gainesway, agent, consigned the colt, whose dam is the Grade 3-placed winner Tokyo Time, by Medaglia d’Oro. She is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Hungry Island and Grade 3 winner Soaring Empire.

“Beautiful colt, lovely pedigree, beautiful mover,” said Jason Litt, who bought the colt for LNJ Foxwoods, Everett Dobson and Robert Clay’s Grandview Equine. “We have had a lot of luck buying from Gainesway. He was the classic ‘checked all the boxes.’ ”

The September Sale continues through Sunday, Sept. 22, with the second Book 2 session starting tomorrow at 10 a.m. ET. All remaining sessions begin at 10 a.m.

The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.