Havre de Grace: a cool $10 mil

by | 11.05.2012 | 9:33pm
Havre de Grace in the ring at last year's Fasig-Tipton November sale

Reigning Horse of the Year Havre De Grace lit up the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Sale ring Monday night, with an international array of bidders driving her hammer price up to a cool $10 million – the third-highest amount ever paid for a broodmare or broodmare prospect. The daughter of Saint Liam out of Easter Bunnette, by Carson City, was purchased by Amanda Pope's Whisper Hill Farms of Citra, Fla., from the consignment of Taylor Made Sales Agency, which sold the three-time Grade 1 winner on behalf of her owner, Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm's, Inc.

Pope, seated inside the pavilion with bloodstock agent Chris Brothers, outlasted last year's number one buyer of broodmares, Benjamin Leon of Besilu Stables, who paid $8.5 million for eventual champion Royal Delta at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Royal Delta is almost certain to win a second Eclipse Award in 2012 after scoring an impressive victory in last Friday's Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.

Others believed to have made serious bids on Havre de Grace were the Wertheimer brothers of France, who have bred and owned many outstanding runners, including their homebred multi-champion filly Goldikova; Frank Stronach, a multiple Eclipse Award-winning breeder who was not present at the sale but is believed to have bid through an agent; and Brazil's Goncalo Torrealba of Stud TNT.

Rick Porter told the Paulick Report a reserve price of $4.7 million was set on Havre de Grace, a barrier that was surpassed almost as quckly as the grand mare strode into the ring and bidding was opened.

“Never in my wildest dreams,” a smiling Porter said of the final price as he was leaving Fasig-Tipton.

The $10-million bid was the third highest ever for a broodmare or broodmare prospect sold at public auction. The top price of $14 million, was established at Fasig-Tipton in 2008 when Southern Equine Stables bought out its partners in the Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour. One year earlier, Sheik Mohammed's bloodstock adviser bid $10.5 million for Playful Act, in foal to Kingmambo, at the Keeneland November sale.

Porter bought Havre de Grace – named for a town in Maryland where a racetrack once stood – for $380,000 from consignor Mill Ridge Sales Agency at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale. She was picked out by Porter's bloodstock consultant Thomas McGreevy and was trained by Anthony Dutrow early in her career and later by Larry Jones through her championship season.

Havre de Grace won nine of 16 starts, including the G1 Woodward Stakes against colts, for earnings of $2,586,175. Porter, who does not breed horses but prefers to buy and race them, decided to keep Havre de Grace in training following her Horse of the Year campaign, but an ankle injury necessitated her retirement in April.

Porter and Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning have been close friends for years, and it was that relationship – “10  years of fighting, cussing, and arguing,” according to Browning – that helped Fasig-Tipton land such a prized Thoroughbred for its premier bloodstock sale.

“He's been a great customer and a good friend,” said Browning. “It's really a privilege and an honor to sell a horse like that.

“A lot of the credit has to go to Taylor Made,” said Browning. “They marketed the hell out of her.”

Duncan Taylor, who owns the sales agency and farm with brothers Frank, Ben, and Mark, said Patrick Mahan created a marketing plan that used social networking and a DVD highlighting Havre de Grace's career, written and narrated by many time Eclipse Award-winning writer William Nack. The DVD, Taylor said, went out to more than a thousand people via email, but the marketing zeroed in on the 150-200 likeliest buyers. Pope was in that list.

The sale of Havre de Grace was the biggest ever for Taylor Made, which previously sold Ashado as a broodmare prospect for $9 million in 2005. Until Havre de Grace sold for $1 million more, Ashado laid claim to be the most expensive broodmare prospect in history.

Pope visited Havre de Grace at Taylor Made on at least a half-dozen occasions and fell in love with her. She told reporters her purchase was a long-term investment and that she plans to sell Havre de Grace's offspring.

Leon only two weeks ago told Bloodhorse.com “I don't think we are in the market for anything” after spending $22.4 million at Keeneland last November, was spotted at Keeneland inspecting Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty. He made a quick visit to the Taylor Made barn at Fasig-Tipton to look at Havre de Grace shortly before the sale, then bid from a private room above the pavilion.

Leon appeared to bid on a couple of other mares but didn't sign any tickets. That didn't stop the November Sale from being an unqualified success. When the final offering left the ring, Fasig-Tipton reported that 87 horses had been sold for $60,220,000, an average price of $692,184 and a median of $190,000. Those figures are 83.9% higher in gross and 66.9% higher in average, though the median declined by 5%. Last year's results showed 79 selling for $32,745,000, an average of $414,494 and median of $200,000.

This year's RNA rate was 35%, compared to 28% last year.

The 2012 November sale far exceeded the 2009 and '10 editions of the auction, though fell just short of the $70,279,000 gross and $772,297 average in 2008, when the Southern Equine Racing dispersal dominated the action. 

A total of 15 horses sold for $1 million or more this year, compared with 13 in 2011. More telling perhaps was the sale of seven of those horses for prices of $2 million or more. At the 2011 November sale there was just one horse that brought more than $2 million. The second- and third-highest prices of the night may be heading to Ireland. Untouched Talent, the dam of G1 Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister, was purchased for $5 million by M. V. Magnier of Ireland's Coolmore Stud from Brookdale Sales, agent for Audley Farm. Grade 1 winner Switch, a daughter of Quiet American sold by Lane's End, brought a $4.3 million bid from Ireland Moyglare Stud. A representative of the farm said it was likely Switch would be bred to Coolmore's top stallion, Galileo.

Other major international buyers who made multiple purchases at the top end of the sale included the leading two farms in Japan: Teruya Yoshida's Shadai Farm, and Katsumi Yoshida, owner of Northern Farm.

Fasig-Tipton 2012 November Sale results.

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