LEXINGTON, KY – Spirited competition among buyers led to significant gains and the sale of six seven-figure yearlings during Wednesday’s third session of the 72nd Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Highlighting the action was the bidding war between Whisper Hill’s Mandy Pope and Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert that resulted in the sale of a colt by North American leading sire Tapit for $2.1 million.
When the gavel fell, Pope had acquired the colt, who is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Silver Colors, a daughter of 1988 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Winning Colors. The amount is the highest price paid so far in this year’s September Sale.
“I thought he was one of the nicest colts in the sale,” Pope said. “He has such a gorgeous, gorgeous long stride, lovely hip and shoulder, great attitude. I just love the way this horse moved. I bought his full sister (Tapping Colors) last year (at the September Sale) for $700,000. She hasn’t made it to the races yet, but she’s going to. It’s a great family.”
Pope, under the consignment of Timber Town, sold the top-priced yearling in Monday’s opening session, a War Front filly bought for $1.45 million by Shadwell Estate Company Ltd. On Wednesday, she also paid $1.05 million for a Street Cry (IRE) filly who is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner and sire Paynter, Grade 3 winner Tiz West and stakes winner Tizakitty. Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, consigned the filly, who is out of the Cee’s Tizzy mare Tizso, a full sister to Horse of the Year Tiznow. With her two purchases for a total of $3.15 million, Pope was the session’s leading buyer.
Gainesway consigned not only the highest-priced colt on Wednesday, but the session’s three top-priced yearlings. Tapit, who stands at Gainesway, also sired the day’s second-highest-priced yearling, a colt that sold for $1.65 million.
“He’s got it all,” said Michael Hernon, director of sales at Gainesway, about the yearling. “He’s got all the potential in the world. I will tell you the reserve was below a million (dollars). It just shows you that in the right place at the right time with the right product, this is what we all are in this business for.”
Keeneland sold six yearlings on Wednesday for $1 million or more, bringing to 11 the total number of seven-figure horses sold during the premier Book 1 catalog. Book 1 spanned the first three sessions of the 12-day sale that began Monday, Sept. 14. In 2014, 13 yearlings brought seven figures during the four sessions that comprised Book 1.
Robust trade generated substantial increases across the board Wednesday when 151 yearlings sold for $46,754,000, up 57.87 percent over 2014 when 104 yearlings grossed $29,615,000. The average of $309,629 rose 8.73 percent from last year’s $284,760, while the median increased 25 percent, from $200,000 to $250,000.
“Book 1 ended on a very high note,” Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell said. “The bidding on the Tapit colt was probably a return to the heyday of this auction. Watching all those people battling hard for that horse was very exciting for everyone, especially the participants. I know Mandy (Pope) was very happy to come out the winner.”
Through three sessions of the 12-day sale, 443 yearlings were sold for $134,361,000, for an average of $303,298 and a median price of $250,000. In 2014, when Book 1 spanned four sessions, Keeneland sold 473 horses for $142,153,000, for an average of $300,535 and a median of 240,000.
A colt by Tapit out of multiple Grade 1 winner Pure Clan, by Pure Prize, sold for $1.65 million to Roy and Gretchen Jackson's Lael Stable to be the day’s second-highest-priced yearling. “We thought he was the nicest colt in the sale, and we’re just glad we were able to buy him,” said Roy Jackson, who indicated the colt will be owned in partnership with Three Chimneys Farm.
Goncalo Torrealba of Three Chimneys purchased Pure Clan for $4.5 million at Keeneland’s 2012 November Breeding Stock Sale in the name of his family’s Borges Torrealba Holdings. “I told Roy Jackson that when he’s done with (the colt) I have a stall ready for him at Gainesway,” Hernon said. “We knew he was a colt who could bring this kind of money. He sold well past the reserve. We had a lot of major people on this horse; we were optimistic and hopeful (about the price he would command).”
“We’ve had a great day,” Hernon said. “Tapit comes through; he’s the boss. He’s a gift. He’s the king of Kentucky.” Gainesway, agent, also sold a full sister to multiple Grade 1 winner and sire To Honor and Serve and Grade 1 winner Angela Renee to Justin Zayat for $1.5 million. She is the highest-priced filly so far in the sale. By Bernardini and out of the stakes-winning Deputy Minister mare Pilfer, the filly is also a half-sister to stakes winner Elnaawi.
“She’s beautiful,” said Zayat, racing manager for his family’s Zayat Stable, who owns 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. “Her pedigree spoke and she had all the parts. She passed the vetting and we loved her. She’s a beautiful filly and we’re excited to add her to the family.” Zayat said the filly will be owned in partnership with Ireland-based Coolmore.
Gainesway, agent, was the session’s leading consignor, selling 11 horses, including three for seven figures, for a total of $8,615,000. A colt and filly by leading sire War Front also commanded seven-figure sales on Wednesday. Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier paid $1.15 million for the War Front colt. Consigned by Claiborne Farm, agent, the colt is out of the winning A.P. Indy mare Orate, a full sister to the late Pulpit, a leading sire. The colt is a half-brother to stakes winner Endless Chatter.
“He’s a War Front and comes from a great family,” said Magnier, who has purchased three colts by War Front for a total of $2.55 million at the sale. “Just a very nice horse. He’s a great mover. He’s just a quality horse.”
“(Horses by War Front) can run on any surface, dirt or turf, and aren’t limited by any distance,” Claiborne President Walker Hancock said. “He’s a special sire and he’s only going to keep getting better. It’s tough to sell him because that family has been so good to us. But hopefully he’ll keep improving the page and we’ll have some more to come down the road.”
War Front also sired a filly sold for $1 million to Mayberry Farm. Consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent, the filly is out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Siren Serenade, a daughter of multiple Grade 1 winner Versailles Treaty. Siren Serenade is a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner George Vancouver and Grade 2 winner Saarland.
No sale will be held on Thursday, Sept. 17. The sale will resume Friday, Sept. 18, and continue through Saturday, Sept. 26, with all sessions beginning at 10 a.m. The entire sale is streamed live at KEENELAND.COM.