The resident of Lane's End had two first-crop yearlings go through the ring on Monday, and their hammer prices accounted for the top two spots among rookie stallions, two of the day's seven highest prices for yearlings, and perhaps most importantly, the highest-priced yearling of the session.
It was a solid stamp of approval for the 7-year-old son of Curlin, who will stand the upcoming breeding season for an advertised fee of $20,000.
Monday's returns carried on what has been a strong debut season in the auction ring for Connect and his first group of foals. He finished the weanling season of 2019 ranked fifth among first-year stallions by average sale price, with 19 sold foals averaging $74,500. His 10 newly-turned yearlings to sell since January have averaged $47,300.
“He's a much more refined, correct, stylish version of his sire, Curlin,” Lane's End yearling manager Peter Sheehan said about Connect. “He really seems to be passing that along to his stock. He's really stamping them. His offspring seem to have plenty of leg, plenty of scope. They're very correct and they move beautifully. I think that, coupled with their elegant profile, the classic racehorse shape he's thrown, I think we're going to see some fireworks in the sale ring, and hopefully they carry it on to the racetrack.”
Monday's top yearling performance by Connect came from Hip 254, a colt out of the placed Posse mare She Be Keene who sold to Blue Sky Stable for $140,000 to lead the the day's youngsters. The colt finished the sale with the third-highest overall price among yearlings and the highest among first-croppers.
Brian Graves, general manager at Gainesway, is the head of the Blue Sky Stable group, which has seen several high-profile successes pinhooking weanlings and short yearlings into the proper yearling market.
After signing the ticket, he said the plan for the session-topper was to re-sell him at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearlings Sale.
“That's the second horse by Connect that I've bought, and probably the fourth horse that I've bid on by him, so I like what he's doing,” Graves said.
Earlier in the session, Cary Bloodstock was the winning bidder on Hip 107, a colt out of the unraced Awesome Again mare Luxurious, for $70,000.
The most lucrative performance for a foal by Connect thus far came at last year's Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, when a colt out of the Grade 3-placed stakes-winning Unbridled's Song mare Wild Hoots sold to Dailey Bloodstock for $250,000. The colt is a half-brother to Grade 1-placed stakes winner Savings Account, out of a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Buddha.
Connect retired to Lane's End ahead of the 2018 breeding season with six wins in eight starts for earnings of $1,370,000.
His 3-year-old campaign saw him pick up a victory in the Curlin Stakes during the marquee Saratoga Race Course meet, then parlay that into a fall campaign that featured wins in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby and G1 Cigar Mile Handicap. The latter came against older competition. Connect came back at age four to win the G3 Westchester Stakes.
Bred in Kentucky by Fox Straus KY, Connect is out of the unraced Holy Bull mare Bullville Belle. He is a half-brother to stakes winner Tani Maru from the family of French champion Amilynx and Grade 1 winner Backseat Rhythm.
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