Two million-dollar colts – a son of Into Mischief from the family of Grade 1 winner Dunbar Road and a son of Street Sense from the family of champion Forever Unbridled – led Thursday’s fourth day of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Today’s session marked the final day of a buoyant Week 1 of the auction, which generated gross sales exceeding $200 million and recorded 15 horses sold for $1 million and more.
Keeneland sold 201 yearlings today for $48,801,000, for an average of $242,791 and a median of $200,000. Cumulatively, 620 horses sold through the ring brought a total of $200,419,000, for an average of $323,256 and a median of $250,000.
“Excellent,” Keeneland Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy said. “The session started strong and finished strong. There were flat spots in the middle when it got a little quiet, but that might be because people were at the barns looking at Book 3 horses. It was a little bit of an anomaly from that standpoint, but the median and average are up. This week has been extremely strong and extremely deep. It has been a powerhouse Week 1.”
“Going forward, I am optimistic,” Lacy added. “There are a lot of people, especially pinhookers, who have not had their hands up yet. When you have buyers getting pushed into the second week that says a lot about the strength of the market. We are encouraged. We think it will incentivize breeders to invest in horses offered at the November Breeding Stock Sale. It is the optimism that the industry needs.”
The September Sale was structured so a critical mass of yearlings would be presented to buyers during four consecutive days that covered Books 1 and 2 before the auction took a one-day hiatus.
“I think a lot of people love the format.” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Cormac Breathnach said. “It’s speaking for itself in terms of the results. The format has been a part of that, and it has been rewarding. It has kept the buyers in town and kept them engaged. People are really aggressive about trying to fill orders. And there’s a wave of buyers that are yet to come in or that are just getting started, so we feel really good about the seven sessions to come.”
Mike Ryan, agent, purchased Thursday’s seven-figure Into Mischief colt, who was consigned by Mt. Brilliant Farm. Out of Grade 3-placed stakes winner Secret Someone, by A.P. Indy, he is from the family of the aforementioned Dunbar Road as well as Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Secret Status, Grade 1 winner Fair Maiden and multiple Grade 3 winner Alumni Hall.
Ryan, who said he bought the colt for a partnership, is familiar with the yearling’s family. Ryan purchased Dunbar Road’s dam, the Bernardini mare Gift List, at Keeneland’s 2016 January Horses of All Ages Sale when she was carrying Dunbar Road.
“He reminded me an awful lot of Practical Joke,” Ryan said about the purchase, comparing the colt to the Grade 1-winning son of Into Mischief, “If he runs to his pedigree – top and bottom, sire and female line – he’s got terrific stallion potential. He looks like a horse that hopefully would run at Saratoga next summer and strike out from there. I thought he was a special colt. He’s got a lot of upside, and hopefully, he’ll turn out lucky.”
“We loved his family,” Mt. Brilliant owner Greg Goodman said. “(Second dam) Private Gift is the first really expensive horse I ever bought. I have sold a lot of the family and kept a lot of the daughters. He could not be in better hands, and I am so happy about it.”
The $1 million Street Sense colt sold to BSW/Crow Colts Group, a new partnership for colts to be trained by Brad Cox. Out of the winning Aptitude mare Critikal Reason, he is a half-brother to stakes winner Bajan, and from the family of Forever Unbridled as well as Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Lemons Forever and Grade 1 winner Unbridled Forever.
BSW/Crow Colts Group purchased four yearlings Thursday. In addition to the Street Sense colt the others were Justice, a $450,000 son of Justify consigned by Bridie Harrison, agent for Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds; a $325,000 son of Good Magic consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, and a $250,000 son of Maclean’s Music consigned by Paramount Sales, agent.
Altogether in Week 1, BSW/Crow Colts Group has purchased 17 colts for $5.98 million.
“It’s a stallion-making group,” Brad Weisbord, speaking for the partnership, said. “We want to have fun along the way, but Brad Cox’s goal is to make a stallion to make this whole thing make sense. We want to return some capital to the partners.”
Cox left the sale to saddle a horse at Churchill Downs. Weisbord said the trainer called after watching the Street Sense colt sell.
“He said, ‘We didn’t get this one.’ I said, ‘'No, buddy, we did.’ He was giddy. Everyone’s excited. I know Brad was really excited to get this group off the ground. We weren’t expecting to spend a million dollars; that wasn’t the goal of the venture. But this was the goal horse today and the goal horse of Book 2.”
Farfellow Farms consigned the Street Sense colt.
“He just kept getting better and better,” Kip Knelman of Farfellow said about the consignor’s lone offering in Week 1 and the first of seven yearlings Farfellow has consigned to the September Sale.
“Our farm manager and staff at the farm did a marvelous job,” Knelman added. “We handle our horses all the time from the time they are babies. He was a real gentleman the whole time. Our reserve was considerably lower, but we had a pretty good understanding of who was interested. It was all the right people. We felt comfortable our reserve would be met.
“We are very pleased and very blessed. This horse business can be tough so sometimes when you get a little luck like this, it brings it back so we can do it again.”
“Seeing family farms like Mt. Brilliant and Farfellow do so well makes us proud,” Lacy said. “They are very proud of the product they bring to the market. That is what breeders hope for. People can relate to those good stories this week.”
“For Tony and me, having primarily been sellers for the last 20 or so years each, it’s exciting to be able to help provide that platform for people like the Knelmans and Mt. Brilliant over the course of Week 1,” Breathnach said. “They’ve really had a chance to excel and show their product off and get payed for it so well. It’s something that we take a lot of pride in. There are a lot of happy people, and that’s our main goal.”
West Bloodstock, agent for Repole Stable and St. Elias, paid $950,000 for a colt by Violence who is a half-brother to Grade 1-placed stakes winner Standard Deviation. Consigned by KatieRich Farms, he is out of the A.P. Indy mare False Impression and from the family of Grade 1 winner Believe You Can, Grade 2 winner Classic Elegance and Grade 3 winner Chorwon.
West said trainer Todd Pletcher told him the colt reminded him of Violence. Pletcher trained Violence.
“What’s selling well right now is that two-turn dirt horse, and that’s what we felt he was,” West said. “He’s got family behind him and an incredible physical, and now we just hope he runs as good as he looks. The number that we had thrown out prior was about half of that (the purchase price), but as the sale goes on with momentum it’s no shocker.
“We’ve been the underbidder on plenty today. Today feels very strong. I think for both parties that were bidding on that horse there was a little bit of frustration with not getting what we wanted early in the day. I think they kind of just let their hair down and let it go. That happens in public auctions, and KatieRich benefited from that.”
West Bloodstock, agent for Repole Stable and St. Elias, was the session’s leading buyer, spending $2,765,000 for seven yearlings. During Week 1 of the September Sale, the group acquired 24 horses for $11,325,000.
Into Mischief also sired a colt sold to Courtlandt Farm for $850,000. Consigned by Indian Creek, agent, the colt is from the family of Grade 1 winner Off the Tracks and Grade 2 winner Concord Point.
“We loved the colt, felt like he had a lot of stretch to him and looks like a colt that will fit our program,” Courtlandt’s Ernie Retamoza said. “We are excited to have him and to get him at that number. He looks like he will go two turns and has a lot of quality.”
Indian Creek owner Shack Parrish praised the colt.
“He did everything right at the farm,” Parrish said. “He is very mild-mannered. He just keeps developing. He’ beautiful now, but he will be even more beautiful this time next year.”
Retamoza said the Courtlandt team had its eye on several additional yearlings during the session.
“Everyone is on these horses that have quality,” Retamoza said. “You have to step up if you want to own them.”
Mayberry Farm paid $775,000 for a filly by Quality Road and from the family of champion Abel Tasman also consigned by Mt. Brilliant. Out of Grade 3 winner Sky Girl, by Sky Mesa, she also is from the family of Grade 1 winner Bevo, Grade 2 winners Wilburn and Beethoven and Grade 3 winners Moonlight Sonata and Moonlight d’Oro.
“I’ve seen a lot of good Quality Road fillies, and she reminds me of all the good ones,” David Ingordo, who signed the ticket,” said. “(She has) plenty of leg, a great shoulder, a beautiful outlook on her. Good Quality Roads tend to be big, scopey and have good bodies. She has a ton of presence.”
Selling two of the day’s highest-priced yearlings was gratifying to Goodman.
“(My farm crew) are the ones who do everything,” he said. “I just go around and look. We have a great staff. Ninety percent of the guys on the farm have been there 15 to 20 years. Everything we have done over the 26 years is because we have great people.”
Talla Racing went to $750,000 for a colt by Practical Joke whose dam, Gal Factor, by The Factor, is a half-sister to 2021 Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Super Stock. He was consigned by St George Sales, agent.
Leading all consignors Thursday was Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, which sold 25 yearlings for $5,648,000.
Friday marks a “dark day” at the September Sale when no session will be held. The sale will resume Saturday, Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. ET and continue every day through Sept. 24.
The entire September Sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.