It takes a lot to make history at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Selected Mixed Sale, and a steady run of seven-figure horses helped do just that, with European champion Lady Aurelia and a record-priced weanling spearheading what was a record gross for the elite auction.
Sunday's renewal finished with 140 horses sold for all-time high revenues of $89,473,000, up 21 percent from the 2017 edition, when 115 offerings brought $74,200,000.
The average fell 1 percent to $639,093 from $645,217, good for the fourth-highest figure of all-time, while the median rose 31 percent to its second-highest return of $327,500 after landing at $250,000 last year. The buyback rate closed at 27 percent compared with 18 percent in 2017.
“It's pretty remarkable to have grossed $89 million tonight,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “We didn't have a $9.5-million Songbird or an $8-million Tepin, and we started the recruiting process and I'm scratching my head and saying we've got to replace $17 million of sales and still have the growth we demonstrated is pretty remarkable.
“There's no magic, there's no secrets,” Browning continued. “It takes good people developing relationships with good people, and then trying to find good horses. Fortunately, we've been pretty good at doing that in recent years, and we're hoping that'll continue.”
The number of seven-figure horses sold at this year's Fasig-Tipton November sale rose from 19 to 22.
“We're seeing similar marketplace to last year,” Browning said. “It wasn't dramatically different. I think what was different was the depth of horses that we had that were seven-figure horses. Seven horses were $3 million or more. Horses throughout the night were bring active bidding. It's a broad group of buyers, but they're still discriminating.”
European champion Lady Aurelia was projected to be one of the sale's marquee offerings, and she lived up to the hype on Sunday, hammering to Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings as Hip 200 for $7.5 million.
The operation of Barbara Banke campaigned the 4-year-old Scat Daddy filly in partnership with Peter Leidel, and the lofty hammer price represented Banke buying out Leidel's share in the horse. Banke hinted in September during a media event for the filly at Stonestreet Farm that securing full control of Lady Aurelia through the auction ring was an option she was considering.
While the hammer price was high, the actual cost to acquire the filly was relative to the size of the share Leidel owned in Lady Aurelia. The auction ring established a market value, and Banke picked up the difference for what would have been Leidel's percentage.
While the filly ultimately ended up going home with the same connections, bidding on Lady Aurelia was active throughout the pavilion, and even when a partnership is being dissolved, any party with deep enough pockets can sweep in and buy the horse for themselves if the price is right. If an outside party had purchased the horse, Banke and Leidel would have divided the profits. At what price would Banke have let the star filly go?
“Higher than that,” she said. “It's hard to come up with something that good. In the horse business, we're all about hope, we're all about the future, we're all about breeding future champions. If we can do that again, it would be really awesome.”
Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browining handled the bidding over the phone for Stonestreet, and signed the ticket on behalf of the operation after the hammer fell.
“We told Boyd if it reached a certain level, just to sign the ticket to Stonestreet,” Banke said. “I've had wonderful partners in the horse. Peter and Karin Liedel and George Bolton, though I bought him out earlier. It's been very fine. We hope to do it again with something else, but the time has come for her to go on to her next career.”
Lady Aurelia won five of 10 races during her on-track career for earnings of $834,945. Trained by Wesley Ward, Lady Aurelia won on debut as a juvenile at Keeneland by 7 1/2 lengths. Her next start came during the Royal Ascot meet, where she turned in another dominant performance, taking the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes by seven lengths. A subsequent trip to France to take the G1 Prix Morny and return course to England for a third in the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes helped secure Europe's champion 2-year-old filly honors for 2016.
Subsequent campaigns saw Lady Aurelia take the listed Giant's Causeway Stakes in the U.S., and return to Royal Ascot to win the G1 King's Stand Stakes.
A Stonestreet homebred, Lady Aurelia is out of the Forest Wildcat mare D'Wildcat Speed, who was a Horse of the Year in Puerto Rico and a G2 winner in the contiguous United States. Stonestreet acquired D'Wildcat Speed for $1 million at the 2005 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
“Her mother was a very hard-knocking mare,” Banke said. “She had a lot of durability and broke track records, so she was very fast. She herself was awesome and has a lot a lot of innate muscle tone and speed. What we really like is the speed, and we hope she passes that right on.”
Looking to the future, Banke said Lady Aurelia's first mating would depend on what continent she was on for the 2018 breeding season.
“If it's America, it's Curlin,” she said, referencing the Hill 'n' Dale Farm resident who is owned in majority by Stonestreet. “If it's Europe, there's a number of prospects.”
Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency consigned Lady Aurelia, as agent.
Pope Buys Stopchargingmaria for $4.4 Million, Weanling Pioneerof The Nile Filly For Record $1.9 Million
Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm hit the auction with a late one-two punch, buying the November sale's most expensive weanling of all-time, a $1.9-million Pioneerof the Nile filly (Hip 233) out of Stopchargingmaria, then landing the mare herself (Hip 234) for $4.4 million.
Stopchargingmaria is a 7-year-old Tale of the Cat mare, best known for winning the 2015 Breeders' Cup Distaff. That race highlighted a career that featured nine wins in 18 starts for earnings of $3,014,000, also featuring victories in the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama Stakes, G2 Demoiselle Stakes and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, and a trio of G3 races.
The mare sold to Three Chimneys Farm for $2.8 million at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton November sale, and her first mating produced the Pioneerof the Nile filly that preceded her dam into the ring.
The $1.9-million price tag for the weanling filly surpassed the record set last year, when a pair of fillies by American Pharoah and Street Sense each brought $1 million.
“The weanling and the mare together helped sell each other,” Pope said. “The pedigree and race record of the mare was an important part of both of them.
“Separately, the Pioneerof the Nile was a lovely filly,” Pope continued. “She's a first foal, maybe a little on the smallish side, but I think she'll grow and be a really nice yearling. We'll see if she comes along, if we'll try to sell her or keep her and race her.”
Stopchargingmaria will join Pope's broodmare band at Timber Town Farm in Lexington, Ky., while the foal will likely go to Pope's farm in Citra, Fla.
Chris Baker of Three Chimneys said it was a tough decision to part ways with the standout mare and foal, but it was one that made business sense.
“When you sell horses like those, it's bittersweet because we loved her,” he said. “We saw the things the market saw in her, but with that kind of sale, it's hard not to be just over the moon about it.
“At the end of the day, they're economic decisions,” he continued. “That much money tied up in one mare and what she could do for us running it as a business and being commercial, is that money better spent spread over more mares, or in a stallion prospect? To have it all concentrated in one mare that can only have so many foals, it's a decision we go through with a lot of our most valuable mares.”
Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned both horses as agent for Three Chimneys.
Godolphin Secures Pretty City Dancer For $3.5 Million
The high-dollar energy of the Fasig-Tipton November Sale wasted little time getting going when the broodmares came to the ring on Sunday evening, with Hip 122, the Grade 1 winner Pretty City Dancer, going to Stroud & Coleman Bloodstock, on behalf of the Godolphin operation, for $3.5 million.
The 4-year-old Tapit mare went through the ring pregnant for the first time, carrying a Medaglia d'Oro foal.
Pretty City Dancer won three of 11 starts during her on-track career for earnings of $286,344. Her resume is highlighted by wins in the G1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga, and the listed Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs. She raced for trainer Mark Casse and owner John Oxley, who initially bought the filly for $825,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
“You're always going to have to pay plenty of money for something you really like, and I think she met the credentials that we liked,” said Anthony Stroud, who signed the ticket on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum's Thoroughbred interests.
Pretty City Dancer is out of the unraced Carson City mare Pretty City, and she is a half-sister to G1 winner Lear's Princess. She is from the family of G1 winner My Big Boy and G2 winner Oh So Snobbish.
Medaglia d'Oro stands at Godolphin's Darley America location in Lexington, Ky., Stroud said the decision on where she would be sent for the 2019 breeding season would be made at a later time.
Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned Pretty City Dancer, as agent.
“I thought it was a really good price, but when you get a Grade 1-winning Tapit, in-foal to that kind of horse, it can bring anything,” said Taylor Made's Duncan Taylor. “There was a lot of interest. Just looking at the comparables, we thought she would definitely bring $2.5 million, and what she would bring over that…She had everybody looking at her, all the right players.”
Coolmore Lands Daddys Lil Darling for $3.5 Million
The Coolmore partnership has gone to great lengths to secure sons and daughters of its late sire Scat Daddy, and the operation continued that pattern on Sunday, going to $3.5 million for the G1 winner Daddys Lil Darling.
The 4-year-old Scat Daddy filly was offered as a broodmare prospect, retiring with five wins in 20 starts for earnings of $1,335,305. She was a graded winner on both dirt and turf, taking the the G1 American Oaks and G3 Modesty Handicap on the grass and the G2 Pocahontas Stakes on the main track. Daddys Lil Darling raced as a homebred for Normandy Farm, and she was trained by Kenny McPeek.
“She's a fantastic racehorse, and she's by the right stallion,” said Coolmore's M.V. Magnier. “We're going to bring her home [to Ireland] and send her to Galileo. That's the plan at the moment.”
Daddys Lil Darling is out of the G2-placed stakes-winning Houston mare Miss Hot Salsa, whose four winners from six runners also includes Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Mongolian Saturday, stakes winner Voctoryasecret, and stakes-placed Four Song Limit.
The filly was consigned by Gainesway, as agent for Normandy Farm, previously owned by Nancy Polk who died in August. Polk had owned Normandy Farm since the late 1990s when she bought the property following the death of her husband.
“I think Nancy Polk would be delighted with this result,” said Gainesway's Michael Hernon. “We're very appreciative to the Coolmore group. She's a super prospect – a beautiful, elegant, Grade 1 winner, very capable on dirt as well, half to a Breeders' Cup winner. She stood out. She had a very strong following by everybody. The Japanese were in strong, other domestic buyers were here for her.”
Hernon said Gainesway will manage a gradual reduction of stock over the coming years for Normandy Farm, placing the horses on the market where they are the most likely to succeed commercially, as opposed to a one-time dispersal.
“Gainesway is very appreciative of the Polk daughters who gave us this responsibility to sell,” he said. “We'll continue to sell their stock as we go forward. We'll offer the weanling crop next year as yearlings. It's a great farm that produced this filly. It's highly productive land, and I'm sure the legacy will go forward. We're going to control and manage their bloodstock, and try to achieve the highest returns as we go forward.”
Best Buys Big In Weanling Portion
Larry Best of OXO Equine was a looming presence during the weanling portion of the Fasig-Tipton November sale, landing three of the most expensive young offerings, led by a $600,000 half-brother to two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome.
Hip 109 is a Pioneerof the Nile colt out of the the winning Not For Love mare Love the Chase, who gained notoriety as the dam of the dual classic winner and multiple-time champion. Love the Chase was set to be offered later in the evening.
The extended page featured champion Cascapedia and G3 winner Tappahannock.
“It's a bet on a Derby winner,” Best said. “It's a good pedigree, but because all of this is so early with California Chrome, it's a risky bet. The fact that the half (by Tapit) as a yearling brought $1.1 million gives you some confidence.”
Best considered the colt the highest-risk prospect of his weanling purchases on Sunday, but the potential reward made it worth taking a
“The horse didn't show that well,” Best said. “It was a rough showing, but he just looks like a horse that has potential.
Bedouin Bloodstock consigned the colt, as agent.
Earlier in the session, Best bought Hip 28, a Medaglia d'Oro filly out of the Unbridled's Song mare Special Me, making her a half to G2 winner Stonetastic and G2-placed Gift Box, for $500,000. Select Sales consigned the filly, as agent.
“When you buy into weanlings, it's an even higher risk, but you're paying less than you do in the yearling sales,” Best said. “The prices at the yearling sales for the hot sires continue to explode. Last year, I bought two weanlings, and they've grown nicely. I've got them in my portfolio to race. Because those two worked out so far, I figured I'd come and take a higher-risk gamble on more weanlings and have more shots on goal, long-term. Anyone in horse racing knows you've got to be prepared for high risk – and a lot of fun – but you've got to be prepared for high risk.”
To view the full sale results, click here.
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