When the hammer fell on Hip 29 during Monday's opening session of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Fred Mitchell walked out of the Sales Pavilion to collect himself. The operator of family-owned Clarkland Farm in Lexington had just watched the Clarkland-bred yearling, a half-sister to multiple champion Beholder, sell for $1.1 million to John and Leslie Malone's Bridlewood Farm of Ocala, Fla.
The amount was the second-highest of the day.
Fred Mitchell and Marty Buckner of Clarkland Farm. “It was emotional,” Mitchell said. “We've had some awfully good days (at Keeneland), but this was a special filly from a really nice mare. We sure weren't disappointed.”
In a quiet moment Tuesday morning at Clarkland's barn, Mitchell said he was unsure how much the Curlin filly out of Leslie's Lady, by Tricky Creek, would bring in the ring but became encouraged when interest in her suddenly spiked.
“(Monday) morning it kind of exploded,” he said. “Before yesterday morning I thought maybe half a million (dollars) may be the tops on her, but then yesterday morning with the interest in her I thought (the price) might get to a million. In this market, timing is everything and it all came together.”
At the 2011 September Sale, Clarkland sold Beholder to B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm for $180,000, and the filly to date has earned nearly $3.2 million. Mitchell was asked to compare Beholder and her yearling half-sister.
“She had a big, huge walk on her, probably a little better shoulder than Beholder,” he said. “They were two different type horses. This filly is more like (Leslie's Lady) with a beautiful shoulder, big walk and nice pencil neck on her. She stands out in the field.”
Mitchell runs the 400-acre Clarkland Farm in northern Fayette County with his wife, Nancy, and daughter, Marty Buckner. The farm has been in Nancy Mitchell's family since 1774 when it was acquired as part of a land grant. The family owns 20 broodmares and has been selling horses at Keeneland for nearly 40 years.
“We will always bring our own horses out here to sell,” Buckner said. “We know the horses, we raise them and have had them every day. We only sell our own. That's what we'll keep doing. We only breed in Kentucky.”
Clarkland will send Hip 540, a filly by Eskendereya, to the ring on Wednesday and has six yearlings in Book 2 and three in Book 4.
“The main market is Keeneland,” Mitchell said. “There is no point in overthinking it.”
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