By Frank Mitchell
Q: What happens if you breed America's leading classic sire to the Grade 1-winning half-sister to the best racemare in the country?
A: You get the sale-topping yearling at Keeneland September.
That, at least, is what happened to John and Jerry Amerman, who bred and sold the $4.2-million colt by A.P. Indy out of Balance (click here for pedigree), the high-class half-sister to Zenyatta, who brought the highest price at the opening session of the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale.
A new high-end auction buyer named Benjamin Leon, the owner of Leon Medical Centers, purchased the top-priced colt and said that he was buying only the most select prospects at the top of the market because he wanted to create a “first-class racing stable.”
A buyer at the Saratoga select yearling sale last month, Leon had purchased a yearling colt by A.P. Indy out of Maryfield (from Southern Equine) for $1.2 million to top the Saratoga auction.
At Keeneland, Leon signed the ticket in the name of Besilu Stables. He was seated in the Keeneland pavilion with J.J. Pletcher, who operates a training center in Ocala, Fla., and is the father of leading trainer Todd Pletcher.
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Leon said the colt has “the depth of pedigree to become a superstar. We're thrilled we were able to get him.”
A.P. Indy has become the most important classic sire in America and is establishing a male line through the prominent sires Pulpit, Malibu Moon, and the emerging freshman stallion Bernardini, who won the Preakness Stakes in 2006.
When Balance concluded her racing career in 2007, what better match could the Amermans find for their multiple Grade 1 stakes winner than A.P. Indy?
The leading lot at the Keeneland September sale is the first foal of Balance, a half-sister to the undefeated champion Zenyatta, and the Amermans consigned their handsome bay colt through Mill Ridge Sales.
The Amermans had purchased the colt's dam, the Thunder Gulch mare Balance, at the 2004 Keeneland September sale for $260,000. For them, Balance won three times at the premier level and earned more than $1 million.
A pretty and very well-conformed mare, Balance brought the fourth-highest price for a yearling by her sire in 2004, and that was before either her younger or elder sibling (Zenyatta and Where's Bailey) became stakes winners.
In fact, at the time of purchase, there wasn't anything happening on the page, although it was quite a good pedigree, and the mare's dam, Vertigineux, wasn't even a stakes winner herself.
Balance generated a serious sales price because she was that good-looking, and she has passed along the qualities of athleticism and presence to her son.
John Amerman said that the high-priced lot was “really the first horse we've sold. We normally race everything, but the people that advise us” encouraged the breeders to sell, especially since the colt is his dam's first foal and the family couldn't become any hotter, with Zenyatta taking her place among racing's legends.
The big, well-grown bay colt was born Jan. 18 and is marked like his famous sire, who was the highest-priced yearling at the Keeneland July sale in 1990.
The success of sons by A.P. Indy, the prestige of the female family, the timing of this horse in a soft sales market, and the strong desire of a new buyer in the sales arena created a dramatic tussle in the Keeneland sale pavilion.
Leon entered the bidding only after it had gone well into seven figures, then began swapping bids with Kaleem Shah, seated inside the sales pavilion, and John Magnier, who was bidding from the holding area behind the auctioneer's stand.
Shah bowed out of the fracas at $3.8 million, leaving Magnier as the underbidder to Leon.
All agreed the bay colt was a special individual with excellence written on him. Leon, in particular, seemed overjoyed with his acquisition. “We, my family and the Pletcher family, thought he was the very best horse in the sale and did not want to let him go, ” said Leon, a Miami businessman, owns a 600-acre farm north of Ocala that was once part of the former Silverleaf Farm.
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