Selling a pair of seven-figure horses is a fine way for any operation to kick off the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, but it was a true financial and statistical windfall for Hinkle Farms.
The Paris, Ky., operation will send 17 yearlings to market from its own breeding program during this year's sale, meaning having a pair to cross that lofty bar during Monday's opening session makes up a significant portion of its overall draft.
Hinkle Farms went a perfect two-for-two handling seven-figure sellers on Monday, led by the session-topper, Hip 75, a half-brother to champion Nyquist by Tapit who sold to Godolphin for $2.5 million. Later in the day, Hip 162, a Curlin colt, sold to Shadwell Estate Co. Ltd. for $1.05 million.
“Hopefully it validates that we're doing some of the right things in raising our horses, and the way that we prepare them for the sale,” said farm owner Tom Hinkle. “We only do hand-walking, and a lot of it, and I think it pays off because our horses, when they get here, they're fit.
“It means a lot in that way, and it means a lot in that you have to keep reinvesting in this business to stay current and keep your bloodlines alive, so we'll be able to come back in November and reinvest in some more nice mares to add to our broodmare band,” he continued. “We're extremely excited.”
Business can usually expect to pick up when Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is spotted on the Keeneland sales grounds to shop for his Godolphin operation, and he lived up to that hype once again, securing Monday's session-topper, the $2.5-million Tapit colt.
It was a familiar purchase for Sheikh Mohammed's operation, which lists 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist among its stallion roster at Darley America's Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky.
“The Hinkles do a great job breeding and raising their horses,” said Anthony Stroud, who signed the ticket on behalf of the Godolphin operation. “We bought the half-sister last year by War Front and she's going very well.
“Sheikh Mohammed liked him very, very much,” Stroud continued. “He was his pick of the day, and that was it, really. He's got a fantastic pedigree and good physical. He's an exciting prospect.”
Stroud said the decision on whether the colt would remain in the U.S. or ship to one of Godolphin's international bases would be made at a later time.
Both Nyquist and Monday's session-topper are out of the winning Forestry mare Seeking Gabrielle. The extended family includes Grade 1 winner Sahara Sky, Grade 2 winner Seeking Regina, and Grade 3 winner Seeking the Sky.
Sheikh Mohammed's brother, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, kept the big day for Hinkle Farms in the family, going to $1.05 million for a Curlin colt out of the winning Giant's Causeway mare Transportation.
Transportation was a $370,000 purchase by the Hinkle operation at the 2017 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, and the Curlin colt that sold on Monday was in-utero. The dam is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner and sire Alternation, and the extended family includes Canadian Horse of the Year Peaks and Valleys.
“He was just a really nice colt,” Hinkle said. “He developed nicely, and never made any mistakes. He's just a very clean, straightforward kind of colt. He's a great mover, and obviously had great conformation. He's just one of those kind of dream colts that don't come along that often.”
Godolphin Buys Medaglia d'Oro Colt For $2.15 Million
Further driving home the point that Sheikh Mohammed doesn't just come to central Kentucky for the bread pudding, the Godolphin operation also secured Monday's second-most expensive offering, a $2.15-million Medaglia d'Oro colt.
The bay colt, offered as Hip 138, is the first foal out of the Grade 1-winning Unbridled's Song mare Tara's Tango. The dam is a half-sister to G1 winner Visionaire and G3 winners Scarlet Strike and Madison's Luna.
The colt was a product of the Stonestreet Bred & Raised program, the same as his dam.
“We knew he was popular and had all the right people on him, but you never let your expectations get that high,” said Conrad Bandoroff of consignor Denali Stud. “He was an incredible physical. Stonestreet raises as good a horse as anybody in the business, and he's really a testament to the evolution of their program.
“Every time he came out, he was a 'wow' horse,” Bandoroff continued. “He acted like a true professional for every show. His first show was the same as his last show, and when horses do that and they're bred the way he is, they make our jobs easier.”
Bob Elliston, Keeneland's vice president of racing and sales, said he got a call on Saturday evening around 5:15 p.m. that Sheikh Mohammed's plane had landed in Lexington, Ky.
“A man with his schedule, you never really know until the very last moment,” he said. “I know how much he enjoys it, and we certainly enjoy having him on the grounds.
“I don't know if Sheikh Mohammed was able to make it onto the grounds yesterday, but I know his team was here,” Elliston continued. “He's got a big team with him, and that also gave us optimism, when I saw David Loder, Anthony Stroud, John Gosden, and of course, the domestic team with Jimmy Bell, Dan Pride, and those folks. They were out doing the homework, and then Sheikh Mohammed saw the horses themselves, and fortunately, he saw a couple he liked.”
Also eclipsing the seven-figure mark on Monday…
– Hip 172, a Tapit colt out of the Grade 1-winning Unbridled's Song mare Unrivaled Belle who sold to Yuji Hasegawa for $1.5 million. The full-sister to champion Unique Bella was consigned by Timber Town, agent.
– Hip 185, Golden Whim, a Medaglia d'Oro colt out of the unraced Distorted Humor mare Weekend Whim who sold to Repole Stables, Viola, and M.V. Magnier of the Coolmore partnership for $1.5 million. the full-brother to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner New Money Honey was consigned by Lane's End, agent.
– Hip 174, a Pioneerof the Nile colt out of the stakes-winning Twirling Candy mare Uptown Twirl who sold to Ben McElroy, agent, for $1.05 million. From the family of champion Classic Empire, the colt was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent.
– Hip 173, a Pioneerof the Nile colt out of the Irish Group 2-winning Galileo mare Up who sold to the Coolmore Partnership and White Birch Farm for $1 million. Lane's End, as agent, consigned the half-brother to Irish Group 2-placed Monarch of Egypt.
At the end of Monday's session, a total of 107 horses changed hands for revenues of $46,231,000. The average sale price closed at $432,065, the median finished at $325,000, and the buyback rate closed at 29 percent.
“I think all of that represents incredible trade,” Elliston said. “It was a deep buying bench who were active. A lot of folks were in here trying to get these horses bought, and you had multiple bidders, particularly on the top ones. Eighteen horse sold in excess of $700,000.”
Gainesway was the session's leading consignor by gross, with 11 horses sold for $5,425,000. Godolphin was the day's top buyer, with three purchases totaling $5,250,000.
Darley's Medaglia d'Oro was Monday's leading sire by both gross and average, with seven horses sold for a combined $6,225,000 and an average of $889,286.
Book 1 of the Keeneland September sale continues through Wednesday, with sessions beginning at noon Eastern. After the sale's traditional “dark day,” sessions continue daily through Sept. 22.
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