Nothing boosts an offering's stock at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale like a Breeders' Cup victory in the days leading up to the marquee auction, and that proved itself out on Tuesday with Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Blue Prize, who sold to Larry Best's OXO Equine for $5 million and Turf Sprint winner Belvoir Bay who sold to Mike Shannon, agent, for $1.5 million.
Best is rarely one to stray from the top of the market during sales for racing stock, but the purchase of Blue Prize marked a high-level foray into the broodmare market.
The new owner said the mare, offered as Hip 98, would be retired from racing and join his broodmare band at Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, Ky., which now has three members. He said he'd be seeking out advice for planning the 6-year-old Pure Prize mare's first mating, and he'd breed both to race and sell depending on the situation.
“I'm now a breeder, and I now have a Breeders' Cup champion – maybe the only way I'll get one,” Best said with a smirk. “She's just a special horse. There's a lot of mares that I pass on that are presented to me as an opportunity, and I'm not a volume guy, I'm a quality guy.”
Despite being relatively new to his breeding endeavors, the purchase of the Argentine-born Blue Prize was still a return to familiar pedigrees for Best.
“One of my first horses was Instilled Regard, and the granddam of Instilled Regard is Heavenly Prize (the dam of Blue Prize's sire, Pure Prize),” Best said. “If you look at the pedigree of this horse, Heavenly Prize is there, so I fell in love with that. It was a very expensive love affair, as you can tell.”
Blue Prize retires with 10 wins from 23 starts for earnings of $2,692,253. She was a standout in her native Argentina at three, winning the Group 1 Premio Seleccion and running second in two other group stakes races.
At four, she was relocated to the Kentucky barn of a fellow Argentine-born, trainer Ignacio Correras IV. Racing for owner Merribelle Stable, Blue Prize won her first graded stakes race later that year when she took the G2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs. She went on a three-race streak late in her 5-year-old season that saw wins in the G2 Fleur de Lis Handicap, G3 Locust Grove Stakes, and G1 Spinster Stakes before finishing fourth in the 2018 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs.
Blue Prize never finished worse than third during her 2019 campaign, but she didn't win her first race of the season until August when she took the listed Summer Colony Stakes at Saratoga. The lightbulb came on in the mare after getting that taste of the winner's circle, and she'd never lose another race. Blue Prize repeated in the G1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland, then moved from five wide in the Santa Anita stretch to outkick favorite Midnight Bisou by 1 1/2 lengths in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
It was an incredible ride for Correras, who watched it come to an end at the fall of the hammer in the Newtown Paddocks pavilion just three days after it hit its highest point.
“I'm happy for the owners and happy for her, she's going to go to a great place no doubt,” Correras said. “They're going to take care of her so good luck to the him (Larry Best) and good luck to her.”
Best wasn't at Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup, but he made himself familiar with Blue Prize after she arrived at the sales grounds in Lexington, Ky.
“Two days ago, I wasn't intending on buying this horse,” he said. “It was a beautiful, sunny day, it was bout three in the afternoon, and this horse just got shipped in, and she just looked so gorgeous. Probably the most beautiful horse I'd ever seen. Hopefully, I'll have success breeding her. I think it was a worthwhile risk Obviously, more money than anyone would want to pay, but she is a Breeders' Cup champion, and if you look at her record, it's just stellar.”
Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services consigned Blue Prize, as agent.
Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint Winner Belvoir Bay Brings $1.5 Million
The story of Belvoir Bay's two days missing in the aftermath of the San Luis Rey fires are as much a part of the legend behind the mare as her Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint victory on Saturday at Santa Anita Park. As it turns out, the reward for finding the mare also included a $1.5-million hammer price at auction.
The 6-year-old Equiano mare, offered as Hip 96, was secured by bloodstock agent Mike Shannon on behalf of an unnamed, still-developing partnership
“It's some different people, but we're not sure yet who's in and who's not – You want in?” Shannon joked after signing the ticket.
Tough the specifics were still being nailed down, Shannon said Belvoir Bay would be retired from racing, and she would remain in the U.S.
Born in Great Britain, Belvoir Bay won twice on her native soil before being purchased by Team Valor International and Gary Barber and moved stateside to finish her juvenile season. Her campaign finished with a win in the listed Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita.
Belvoir Bay remained based on the West Coast with trainer Peter Miller for the remainder of her career, where she racked up wins in the G3 Torrey Pines Stakes and G3 Senator Ken Maddy Stakes. In December 2017, she was listed as one of the missing after wildfires tore through the San Luis Rey Downs Training Center, where Miller keeps a string. She had set free from her stall to give her a chance of surviving the blaze, and was later found and identified in someone else's barn. Belvoir Bay spent two weeks at San Luis Rey Downs Equine Clinic receiving hyperbaric oxygen treatments and recovering from injuries from the incident.
“She really and truly ran for her life (in the San Luis Rey fire),” said Meg Levy of consignor Bluewater Sales. “I just can't even imagine. We were talking about those dots on her coat whether they were from the fire because she was obviously turned loose in the middle of the cinders.”
When Belvoir Bay came back from the races, she came back with force. Her first start back was a win in the listed Mizdirection stakes, and the following months saw consecutive wins in the G3 San Simeon Stakes and G3 Monrovia Stakes.
Her 2019 campaign saw her start with wins in the Las Cienegas Stakes and Wishing Well Stakes as a prep for her first international start, a second to all-world turf sprinter Blue Point in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint on the Dubai World Cup card. Her season, and her career, finished with a blistering victory in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, where she completed five furlongs in a track-record :54.83 seconds.
“She's the fastest mare in the world, I guess,” Shannon said. “She ran second to Blue Point in Dubai, and he's supposed to be the best sprinter. She ran against the colts, and went wire-to-wire in the Breeders' Cup. That's a fast mare.”
Belvoir Bay is out of the winning Rock of Gibraltar mare Path of Peace, from the family of French champion Bold Arrangement.
The mare has been through a lot in her six years of life, but Levy said those challenges have created a true professional.
“Watching her deal with all this, running in that race, flying right here, coming into the barn, she has never batted a hair,” Levy said. “She went right in her stall, she ate her dinner. Fillies don't do that. And she was just like 'okay, what do we do now?'”
Champion Sprinter Shamrock Rose Brings $2.5 Million
Shamrock Rose, the champion female sprinter of 2018, added another exclamation point to her resume when she sold to Mike Shannon, agent, for $2.5 million.
The 4-year-old First Dude filly was offered as a broodmare prospect at the end of a career that featured five wins in 13 starts for earnings of $968,962. Her debut start as a juvenile was a victory in stakes company, taking the listed Ontario Debutante Stakes at Woodbine.
Shamrock Rose locked down her Eclipse Award the following year a four-race streak of victories in the listed Malvern Rose Stakes at Presque Isle Downs, the listed La Lorgnette Stakes at Woodbine, the G2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland, and finally, the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs.
It was an incredible ride for the Conrad Farms operation of Manfred and Penny Conrad, who bought Shamrock Rose for $120,000 at the 2017 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. Spring 2-Year-Olds In Training Sale.
“It was beyond our expectations,” Manfred Conrad said. “We thought she'd do well, and in the back of our mind, we also thought, 'Maybe we'll take her home and breed her ourselves,' but this went great tonight. We hate to see her go, but you've got to turn them around a little bit.
“In this business, you need to sell in order to buy,” he continued. “My wife likes to breed horses, and thought she's going to get some more broodmares, maybe, now. We're not going to save it.”
Bred in Pennsylvania by Best A Luck Farm, Shamrock Rose is out of the unraced Elusive Quality mare Slew's Quality. She is a half-sister to stakes-placed Bet On Mike, and her extended family includes Horse of the Year Lady's Secret.
Bluewater Sales consigned Shamrock Rose, as agent.
“When you have that stamp as an Eclipse champion, it says a lot,” said Meg Levy of Bluewater Sales. “There are so few of them on the market. I think it's amazing. We're so lucky. I'm just thrilled for the Conrads. And Mark Casse has done such a wonderful job buying horses that are not necessarily in the box. We're just blessed to have them as clients.”
Ryan Buys Weanling Gun Runner Filly For $750,000
The most expensive weanling of the sale came late in the supplemental catalog near the end of the night, when bloodstock agent Mike Ryan bought a filly from the first crop of Gun Runner for $750,000.
The bay filly, offered as Hip 219, is out of the Grade 1-winning A.P. Indy mare Love and Pride, whose three foals to race are all winners. Her third dam is Broodmare of the Year Cara Rafaela, putting her in the family of champion Bernardini and Grade 3 winner Thiskyhasnolimit.
“She's for an end user, going to a racing stable,” Ryan said. “She's got plenty of racing and broodmare potential if she does what we hope she can do on the racetrack. She's a big, scopey filly. Looks like she'll get a mile and an eighth. Hopefully she's a Saturday afternoon horse.”
Gun Runner is a resident of Three Chimneys in Midway, Ky. Ryan, one of the keenest eyes in the bloodstock industry, spoke highly of the stallion and his first foals.
“They're bigger than I thought they were going to be, to be honest,” he said. “I need to go see him again. The last time I saw him was when he was out of training at Three Chimneys and he looked magnificent then, but the thing that impressed me about him was the way he moved on the racetrack. He moved like a cheetah. His feet rarely touched the ground.
“I think there's some Giant's Causeway coming through there [in his foals],” Ryan continued, referencing Gun Runner's broodmare sire. “They're bringing size, and scope, and bone, and substance. I'm liking what I'm seeing.”
Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned the filly, as agent.
Best Lands $700,000 Weanling Uncle Mo Filly
Larry Best of OXO Equine struck early during the weanling portion of the Fasig-Tipton November Sale, going to $700,000 for Hip 70, an Uncle Mo filly.
The bay filly is out of the Grade 2-winning Harlan's Holiday mare Summer Applause, who is the dam of one winner from two foals to race. Her extended page includes Grade 2 winner Recoup the Cash and Brazilian Broodmare of the Year Bandeira Nativa.
“She's just one beautiful Uncle Mo filly,” Best said. “She's well-bred, vetted out clean. Just from a long-term breeding standpoint, I'm pretty safe with the number, and hopefully it's fast. She's probably the nicest weanling here.”
Best is a known entity on the buying bench at weanling, yearling, and 2-year-old sales, which he said was about finding opportunity and capitalizing on it.
“It's a piece of a strategy,” he said. “The yearling market has gone through the roof.”
The filly was bred in Kentucky by the Berglar family's Narola LLC, which bases itself at Stonereath Farm in Paris, Ky. Lane's End consigned her, as agent.
“She's by far the best weanling we've had come off the farm since we've had the farm,” said Peter Berglar. “She was just a queen all the way through, since she was born. She's straightforward, and we're delighted that Mr. Best got her. We thought she was special, but you never know of other people will feel the same.”
Berglar said the farm's weanlings performed well at last year's Fasig-Tipton November sale, and he thought the auction's format might have helped the Uncle Mo filly stand out.
“You have a smaller group of horses here, so you get a chance to shine a bit more, maybe, than they do at sales with bigger numbers,” he said. “We were hoping we'd get a reward bringing here. Lane's End did a fantastic job, and all the credit goes to Allaire Ryan [sales director at Lane's End].”
Selling elsewhere at this year's Fasig-Tipton November sale…
– Hip 166, Photo Call, a Grade 1-winning Galileo mare who sold to Katsumi Yoshida's Northern Farm in Japan for $2.7 million. The 8-year-old was offered pregnant to Quality Road, and she was consigned by Denali Stud, agent.
“She was a special offering, we knew that going into it,” said Conrad Bandoroff of Denali Stud. “We thought that this was the range that she could fall in if everything aligned and it did. We knew that the Galileo cross works really well in Japan so we knew there was going to be high Japanese interest going into it – or we hoped. She's gone to a great operation.”
– Hip 150, Mia Mischief, a Grade 1-winning Into Mischief filly, sold to Stonestreet Stables for $2.4 million. The 4-year-old will remain in training with Steve Asmussen for the immediate future, and will be bred to Curlin when she eventually retires. Elite Sales consigned Mia Mischief as agent for owners Bill and Corrine Heiligbrodt, Scott Heider, and Madaket Stables.
“She's beautiful physically and she's rocket-fast,” said John Moynihan, bloodstock adviser for the Stonestreet operation. “That's the kind of mare [Curlin's] extremely well with, so we're excited.”
– Hip 177, Separationofpowers, a multiple Grade 1-winning racing/broodmare prospect by Candy Ride who sold to Hunter Valley Farm for $2.1 million. The 4-year-old filly was consigned by Elite Sales, agent.
“I think dirt speed in this country is king and the Test is one of the best races you can win in America, and to win the Frizette as a 2-year-old and win to win a graded stakes at four, she continued her form at two, three, and four,” said Elite's Liz Crow. “She was a unique offering because of that. And she had the looks. She had a great walk, she was classy, Chad Brown sent her to us looking phenomenal. And she showed herself with class all week.”
– Hip 196, Wonder Gadot, Canada's 2018 Horse of the Year, who sold to Japan's K I Farm for $2 million. The 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly was consigned by Bluewater Sales, agent. It was a familiar purchase for K I Farm, which also landed Catch a Glimpse, Canada's 2015 Horse of the Year also campaigned by Gary Barber, for $3 million at the 2017 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
– Hip 95, Baffled, the dam of Grade 1 winner and top freshman sire Constitution, sold to Don Alberto Corp. for $1.8 million. Consigned by Denali Stud, agent, the Distorted Humor mare was offered in-foal to Medaglia d'Oro.
“All along I kind of had her in the million and a half to two million range,” said Conrad Bandoroff of consignor Denali Stud. “Obviously a mare like that, in foal to Medaglia d'Oro, if you get a good out of her, that's what you're going get out of that foal (price-wise). She's a proven mare, a proven producer. I think people have the expectation that if you want to own a mare like that, that's what you're going to have to pay. It was good, it was right in line with our expectations.”
– Hip 197, Wow Cat, a Chilean Horse of the Year who sold to Peter Brant's White Birch Farm for $1.7 million. The 5-year-old Lookin at Lucky mare was consigned by Elite Sales, agent.
– Hip 216, Sweet N Discreet, the dam of Grade 2 winner Sweet Melania, who sold to Mt. Brilliant Farm for $1.6 million. The Grade 2-placed stakes-winning Discreet Cat mare was offered pregnant to Liam's Map.
– Hip 193, Vasilika, a Grade 1-winning racing/broodmare prospect by Skipshot who sold to Japan's Katsumi Yoshida for $1.5 million. Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned the filly, as agent. She finished a narrow second in this year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
– Hip 141, Laffina, the dam of Grade 1 winning juvenile Bast, sold to Eaton Bloodstock for $1.5 million. The 7-year-old placed Arch mare was offered in-foal to Ghostzapper, and she was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent for BlackRidge Stables.
At the end of the evening, a total of 128 horses had changed hands for revenues of $68,011,000, marking a 24 percent decline in gross from last year's sale, when 140 horses brought $89,473,000. The average sale price dipped 17 percent to $531,336, the median declined 8 percent to $300,000, and the buyback rate finished at 24 percent on Tuesday, compared with 27 percent in 2018.
The auction took some hits to its catalog as the sale day drew closer, with the high-profile defections of Midnight Bisou, Bellafina, and Got Stormy, whose connections all elected to keep their horses in training. Despite the setback, Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning was happy with the sale's outcome.
“The market's the same that we've seen in recent years,” Browning said. “There's no dramatic change. Quality sells. There was great competition on those horses that were standouts, either on the racetrack or in their production cycle, or look like they have tremendous racing potential.
“You're thrilled when you get those updates like Blue Prize winning the Distaff, and the nature of this sale is you get some of those tremendous updates, and sometimes you have a loss like Midnight Bisou,” he continued. “That's the nature of this sale. We understand that when we put it together. It's about building relationships.”
To view the auction's full results, click here.
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