by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am

By Ray Paulick

There are auction bargains aplenty in the list of American Graded Stakes winners thus far is 2010. No horse was a bigger sale bargain than the unbeaten, two-time champion Zenyatta, who was purchased on behalf of Jerry and Ann Moss for just $60,000 in 2005 at the Keeneland September yearling sale. The daughter of Street Cry has won nearly 100 times her purchase price, $5,624,580, going into Friday's Apple Blossom Invitational at Oaklawn Park, where she will be a heavy favorite in her attempt to stretch her record to 16 wins without a loss.

But Zenyatta isn't the only American Graded Stakes winner bought at public auction for a relatively small price. Evening Jewel, last weekend's winner of the Central Bank Ashland Stakes, a Grade 1 race for 3-year-old fillies at Keeneland, was originally purchased for just $8,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September  yearling sale and entered in the 2009 OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training by E.J. Sipus Jr.'s Richwood South. During a quarter-mile breeze she caught the eye of bloodstock agent Gary Young (aka Gary the Clocker) when he went to Ocala for the March OBS sale in 2009, and he struck a deal to buy her privately on behalf of Californians Tom and Marilyn Braly (she was subsequently withdrawn from the April sale).

Bred in California by the late Betty Mabee and Larry Mabee, the daughter of Northern Afleet returned to her native state, where she was turned over to trainer Jim Cassidy. Evening Jewel nearly won a Grade 1 race at Santa Anita, getting caught by 3-year-old filly division leader Blind Luck in the last jump of the Las Virgenes Stakes, but then ventured to Keeneland to win the Ashland. Among those she defeated was the 2009 2-year-old filly champion She Be Wild. From eight starts, Evening Jewel has earned $410,600.

Speaking of Blind Luck, she has followed a path not that dissimilar from that of Evening Jewel. Bred in Kentucky by Dr. and Mrs. Bill Baker's Fairlawn Farm, she sold for just $11,000 at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale as a pinhooking prospect for Omega Farm and then entered in the same April 2009 OBS sale of 2-year-olds in training as Evening Jewel. When bidding stopped at $10,000, she was bought back by her consignor, former jockey Juvenal Diaz, who ran her in a $40,000 maiden claiming race at Calder two months later. When she won by 13 1/4 lengths, she caught the eye of California trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who bought her on behalf of a partnership.

Blink Luck has gone on to win five addition races, including four American Graded Stakes (three Grade 1) and $1,069,050.

That's quite a trio: Zenyatta, Evening Jewel, and Blind Luck. Three Grade 1 winners whose combined auction price as yearlings was just $79,000.

Copyright © 2010, The Paulick Report

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