Abel Tasman was expected to spike the figures during the first session of the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale, and she did that in spades on Monday, tying the record for the highest price in the auction's history when she sold to the Coolmore partnership for $5 million. Even removing the champion mare, figures remained competitive with last year's opening session.
A total of 223 horses changed hands on Monday for revenues of $21,052,200, up 59 percent compared with last year's opening session when 186 horses brought $13,265,100. The average sale price rose 32 percent to $94,404, while the median fell 13 percent to $39,000. The buyback rate fell significantly to 29 percent after last year's first day of trade finished at 39 percent
Removing Abel Tasman from the equation, Monday's gross closed at $16,052,200, with an average of $72,307, both still above last year's opening session.
“January, to me, follows on from November,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales operations, assessing the two marketplaces. “It was very solid all across the board. Short yearlings are very much in demand. There's still a great appetite for them. Well-covered broodmares sold very well.”
Dermot Ryan, manager of Coolmore's North American base in Versailles, Ky., signed the ticket for Abel Tasman, offered as Hip 288, on behalf of the international operation.
“She's a queen, isn't she?” Ryan said. “They're very rare, when they come across like that. She had everything. She'd be anybody's dream filly to own. She'll go to one of the Coolmore sires, it's undecided. M.V. [Magnier] will talk to his dad and partners, and they'll make a decision from there. Regardless, they're absolutely thrilled to have her.”
Ryan listed Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify, as well as top sire Uncle Mo and European powerhouse Galileo as possible partners for Abel Tasman's first mating.
The $5-million hammer price put Abel Tasman on even footing with the Summer Squall mare Mackie as the most expensive Keeneland January graduate of all-time. Mackie, a half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero, offered in-foal to Mr. Prospector, went to Britton House Stud during the 2000 sale.
Abel Tasman retired following a start in last year's Breeders' Cup distaff, capping off a career that included eight wins in 16 starts for earnings of $2,793,385. She was campaigned by China Horse Club and breeder Clearsky Farms, trained by Bob Baffert.
A victory in the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes during Abel Tasman's juvenile campaign served as a precursor to her Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old season, which features wins in the G1 Kentucky Oaks, Acorn Stakes, and Coaching Club American Oaks. She also finished second in that season's Breeders' Cup Distaff at Del Mar.
Abel Tasman returned at four to win the G1 Ogden Phipps Stakes and Personal Ensign Stakes.
Abel Tasman is out of the unplaced Deputy Minister mare Vargas Girl, whose five winners from six foals to race also includes G3 winner Sky Girl and stakes-placed Moonlight Sky.
“I think she's the kind of mare that could produce a stallion, and you could be sitting here 20 years from now, like the case was when Coolmore bought Mariah's Storm from us, where she's produced two stallions (Giant's Causeway and Freud) and the whole legacy,” said Mark Taylor of consignor Taylor Made Sales Agency. “She could be a mare that makes you $300 million or $400 million. It's a lot of money, but she's worth a lot of money and she's got tons of potential going down the road.”
The bay colt's third dam is the Hall of Famer Personal Ensign, putting him in the Phipps-line family of Broodmare of the Year Personal Flag, Champion Storm Flag Flying, and G1 winners My Flag, Miner's Mark, Traditionally, Mr Speaker, and Seeking the Soul, among many others.
Like Abel Tasman, the session-topping yearling colt was a product of the Clearsky Farms breeding program, owned by Bernard and Eamonn Cleary.
“That's a nice testimonial to their program,” Taylor said. “They do a fantastic job. What those guys are doing – their dad started the operation, but how they progressed and carried on…They've got a great farm manager and great land, and they're very shrewd about the mares they buy.”
View the full results from Monday's session here.
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