It's been a productive season for the Winter Quarter Farm consignment.
In August, the operation of Don Robinson made history when it handled the highest-priced horse ever offered at the Fasig-Tipton New York-Bred Yearlings Sale, a $775,000 Malibu Moon filly that sold to Larry Best's OXO Equine.
That momentum carried into the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, and manifested itself in a big way on Saturday with a pair of high-priced offerings to close out Book 2 of the marathon auction. Winter Quarter Farm consigned Saturday's $1-million session-topper and the co-second-highest-priced offering at $650,000.
“It's been an amazing day,” Robinson said. “It's probably been as strong a day as I've had at the sales in a long time.”
The bay colt is out of the Grade 2-winning Leroidesanimaux mare Always a Princess, who is the dam of one winner from two runners. Always a Princess is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Gabby's Golden Gal.
“Our whole team loved him,” said bloodstock agent Marette Farrell, who signed the ticket for the Speedway group. “Every single person on my team loved this horse from the very first sighting. He took my breath away.
“We were the underbidder on Mastery a couple years ago, and for me, this horse gave me that same feeling,” Farrell continued. “He's very easy on the eye, such a good mover, and an amazing demeanor. I saw him at the beginning of the day and I saw him at the end of the day, and he looked the exact same, and that was very important to me.”
The colt was bred in Kentucky by Arnold Zetcher, a longtime Winter Quarter client who has boarded multiple generations of the colt's family at the Lexington, Ky., farm.
“I'm speechless,” Robinson said. “He was so popular, I knew he would be at the top of this sale, or up there. he's probably the most popular, the most well-received yearling I've ever brought to the sale. People that usually keep their mouths shut told me this was the best-looking horse on the grounds, so I didn't have to do anything.
The colt's transaction ensured that both sessions of this year's Book 2 included a seven-figure horse, after a $1-million Union Rags colt led Friday's trade.
“He's a May baby and in the last 30 days, he was like a different horse,” Robinson said. “He was really nice, but he was always immature. Sales are so brutal in this era, it's tough to get one that just looks the part and walks the part, for all that stuff to come together. He vets beautifully, and it worked.”
Sapphire Stable picked up the other half of Winter Quarter's top duo, going to $650,000 for Hip 1109, a Candy Ride colt.
The bay colt is the second foal out of the Grade 1-placed stakes-winning Empire Maker mare Charm the Maker. His page also features Grade 2 winner Liam the Charmer and Grade 3 winners Charm the Giant and Herecomesthebride.
For both horses, Robinson said their placement in Book 2 went a long way in helping them stand out to a buying bench that included a healthy mix of Book 1 holdovers and buyers who traditionally avoid swimming in the deep waters of the sale's opening sessions.
“They were just stick-outs in Book 2,” Robinson said. “They were probably borderline Book 1 types, and I love to be the big fish in the little pond. They just really stuck out, and that helped a lot. I had a Tapit horse in the first book, and it was just with 36 other Tapits. It just wasn't there.”
Also hitting the $650,000 mark on Saturday…
– Hip 992, a Union Rags colt out of the Grade 3-winning Sky Mesa mare Sky Girl who sold to Mayberry Farm. The dam is a half-sister to champion Abel Tasman, and the page also features Grade 1 winner Bevo and Grade 2 winners Wilburn and Beethoven. The colt sold as property of Mt. Brilliant Farm.
– Hip 1239, an Into Mischief colt out of the winning Songandaprayer mare Keysong who sold to the SF Bloodstock/Starlight Racing/Madaket Stables partnership. Sequel New York consigned the New York-bred as agent.
– Hip 1256, an Uncle Mo colt out of the unraced Empire Maker mare Lost Empire who sold to Juddmonte Farms. Paramount Sales consigned the colt, as agent.
After the auction's first two books, a total of 785 horses have changed hands for revenues of $258,048,000, which would already be the 15th highest gross in the auction's 75-year history if trade ended Saturday. The average sale price sat at $328,734, the median was $250,000, and the buyback rate was 28 percent.
“Going into it, we were looking for a very strong Book 1, and obviously we got that,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales operations. “Our goal was with Book 2 to tighten down the numbers and increase the quality, and seeing the huge rise in the median today and yesterday shows we were successful with that, too. I think it's 'mission accomplished.'”
Saturday's session finished with 224 horses sold for $43,356,000. The average price was $193,554, the median was $160,000, and the buyback rate was 30 percent.
Taylor Made Sales Agency was Saturday's leading consignor by gross, with 27 horses bringing $4,332,000. Speedway Stable was the top buyer, with two purchases totaling $1,290,000.
Spendthrift Farm's Into Mischief was the session's leading sire by gross, with 17 yearlings bringing a combined $5,165,000. He was also the day's top sire by average among those with three or more sold, at $303,824.
To view the full results, click here.
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