In an auction that can be quite top-heavy, the mantle for the most expensive weanling of the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale was unexpectedly usurped on the second day of Book 2 on Friday when Larry Best of OXO Equine bought a Curlin filly for $775,000.
Best has had a knack for making his presence known during the current fall sale season, having landed Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Blue Prize for $5 million to top the Fasig-Tipton November Sale, then turning around and exclusively buying weanlings at the Keeneland November Sale. He'd secured the sale's previous top weanling, a $750,000 Curlin colt, during Wednesday's opening session.
While Best made his presence known again on Friday, it wasn't because he was in the building. He secured the bid on Hip 1039 over the phone, with Taylor Made Farm's Frank Taylor handling the honors when the ticket came to his seat.
“He'd looked at her, and I just bid on her, but she was a nice filly,” Taylor said. “We loved her. She had a great walk on her. She's everything we wanted.”
Bred in Kentucky by Peter Redekop, the chestnut filly is out of the unplaced Giant's Causeway mare Fly to the Stars, whose six foals to race are all winners, including Grade 3 winner The Tabulator and stakes-placed Star Via Strada. Grade 1 winner Bellamy Road is in her extended family, as well as Grade 3 winners Out of Place, Lead Kindly Light, and Calibrachoa.
Indian Creek handled the filly, as agent, and the transaction was was a monumental surprise for consignor Shack Parrish.
“She's always been very nice, very forward,” Parrish said. “Up here, she's been an angel. She showed in the rain and all yesterday and it didn't affect her. It was a little more than we expected, but I won't complain it all. It was huge for us and the team at home.”
It's unexpected to see a weanling outside of the select Book 1 bring a sale-topping price at the November sale, but Keeneland director of sales operations Geoffrey Russell said it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility, given the structure of how weanlings are placed and organized in the catalog. Weanlings are cataloged based on strength of pedigree, as opposed to the Keeneland September Yearling Sale where physical inspections are included in the equation.
“Weanlings are very difficult because we don't inspect them,” Russell said. “They're hard to place because you don't know if they're going to wean well, or how they'll develop, so it's kind of a crapshoot in that aspect of it. Would we have put her in Book 1 if we'd have looked at her? Probably, but we didn't, so we just put her in her with her dam. They wanted to have the mare and foal together to hopefully help sell the mare.
“Breeding stock is different to yearlings,” he continued. “No matter where you are in the world, you have somebody you know who lives within 30 miles of Keeneland. If you're really interested in a mare that happens to be in Book 3 or Book 4, you have somebody here who can lay eyes on it, and you're comfortable. When you're buying yearlings, you want to do it yourself. You want to be hands-on.”
Slewfoundmoney Leads Friday's Broodmares At $585,000
Live Oak Stud offered a handful of veteran broodmares on Friday, which were well-received by buyers, including the day's top mare, the $585,000 Slewfoundmoney who sold to Arthur Hoyeau, agent.
The 15-year-old Seeking the Gold mare, offered as Hip 826, has produced four black type earners. Leading the way among the group is Awesome Slew, a multiple Grade 3 winner who finished third in the 2017 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Slewfoundmoney is also the dam of stakes winner He's Bankable, Grade 3-placed Souper Lucky, and stakes-placed Souper Jackpot. She was offered in-foal to Into Mischief.
Slewfoundmoney is out of the Seattle Slew mare Borodislew, who was a Grade 2 winner in the U.S. and Group 3 winner in France. She is a full-sister to Grade 3 winner Seeking the Slew and a half to Grade 3 winner Canadian Frontier.
Warrendale Sales consigned Slewfoundmoney, as agent for the Live Oak operation.
Figures Decline On Friday
Returns were down across the board on Friday compared with last year's third session, with 232 horses selling for $31,527,500. That marked a 5 percent decrease from last year's third day of trade when 243 horses brought $35,026,000.
Friday's average sale price fell 10 percent to $135,894, the median declined 16 percent to $105,000, and the buyback rate finished at 23 percent, down one percentage point from last year.
Gainesway closed out the day as the leading consignor by gross, with 17 horses sold for $3,184,000. Best was the day's top buyer, with two purchases totaling $1,035,000.
Spendthrift Farm's Into Mischief was the day's top covering sire by gross, with three pregnant mares sold for $1,145,000. He edged out runner-up Uncle Mo of Ashford Stud, who also had three mares change hands, by a mere $500.
Into Mischief was also the top covering sire by average, among those with more than one mare sold, at $381,667.
At the end of the third session, a total of 634 horses had changed hands for revenues of $139,307,000, up 4 percent from the same point last year when 611 horses brought $132,981,500. The cumulative average was up 1 percent to $219,727 and the median was even at $150,000. The buyback rate finished at 22 percent, down slightly from 23 percent.
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