When it comes to timely catalog updates, the effects on a hammer price can range from benign to potentially life-changing.
Where exactly Hip 575 of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds In Training Sale will fall on that spectrum remains to be seen, but having half-brother War of Will win the Preakness Stakes just three days before going through the ring is about as big of an assist as they come.
Consignor Ciaran Dunne of Wavertree Stables watched the Preakness from a bar in downtown Baltimore, as War of Will moved up the rail at nearby Pimlico Race Course and prevailed in the middle leg of the Triple Crown. He said the excitement the win generated was palpable, but it also brought a new set of challenges for marketing his Tapit colt.
“Our biggest fear is a lot of people are going to think they can't afford him now, but the horse is here to sell,” Dunne said. “He belongs to a pinhooking partnership, and they don't race, so he'll sell.”
If Dunne had dollar signs in his eyes the day after War of Will's Preakness win, he kept them well-hidden under his Wavertree Stables baseball cap and the smoke of a morning cigar, maintaining a cool-headed demeanor after getting what he called the timeliest catalog update of his selling career.
The colt has a dynamite page. Leaving War of Will out of it, he's a half-brother to Irish Group 1 winner Pathfork, stakes winner Tactitus, and stakes producer Lotus Sutra. His dam, the French stakes-winning Sadler's Wells mare Visions of Clarity, is a half-sister to global Grade/Group 1 winner Spinning World.
The the true test in marketing the colt was what stood at the end of the shank. Dunne described the leggy late-bloomer who breezed an eighth in :10 3/5 as a “backward” colt.
“He's just immature both mentally and physically at this point,” Dunne said. “The group who own him decided to bring him here and give him as much time as possible, and I'd say he's probably a month away from where we'd like to have him, but you can see every day changes him physically, and mentally, he's starting to figure it out. The Tapits can be a little hard to get focused, and he's very typical in that respect. When he does put it all together, I think he'll be a very talented horse.”
Dunne admitted he did not know much about War of Will when his half-brother arrived in his care. The Tapit colt was a $130,000 purchase by the Donna Wormser-led Sensible Equine at last year's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale. At the time, War of Will's most notable effort was a runner-up finish in the G1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine, and he was still seeking his first win.
“They took a chance,” Dunne said. “He was a Tapit colt with a lot of pedigree. As a yearling, he was very light-framed. He didn't show himself very well. He'd come out and lose focus, so it was a brave move for them to give what they gave because he wasn't an obvious horse to buy at the sales.
“Through the winter, he always seemed to be behind – one step forward, two steps backward, and it's only in the last 30 days we've been happy with the progress he's been making,” he continued.
War of Will tried the dirt for the first time late last November after running in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The surface change led to a three-race winning streak that included scores in the G2 Risen Star Stakes and G3 LeComte Stakes.
An obvious candidate to buy the colt on Tuesday is one of the clients of trainer Mark Casse and bloodstock agent Justin Casse, going back to the well on a purchase that took them to the promised land.
Dunne said he hadn't been in touch with team Casse since War of Will first stepped out on the graded stakes scene, but a classic update serves as an effortless marketing tool.
“That horse, he was always going to do his own advertising,” he said. “If you get something that wins a little stake in the boondocks or is stakes-placed, you've got to get it out there, but an update like that just sells itself, so you just leave it alone.”
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