America signals start of future growth for the China Horse Club
Operation were busy buying mares at the November Sale
The China Horse Club has launched a new expansion phase in which high-quality American bloodstock will become a foundation for future growth of the rapidly rising international operation.
Club founder Teo Ah Khing and bloodstock manager Michael Wallace put the plan into action by buying five broodmares for a total of $5.52 million at the Fasig-Tipton Mixed Sale on Monday, topped by four-year-old Grade 1 winner Embellish the Lace, who cost $2.4 million and is in foal to top young sire Uncle Mo.
Khing indicated he expects to buy more mares on behalf of the club at the 13-session Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
“In the long-term, and in the short and middle term, the horse industry in America is going to be the cornerstone for Chinese development. So we recognise that, and I think we need to take a bigger step. This is our fourth year and we think the time is right,” declared Khing.
Parallels between the American racing and breeding industry and the fledgling business in China, including an emphasis on dirt racing, as well as productive relationships with a number of American breeders are the primary reasons for the new phase, he said.
“The industry leaders that we met have shown great support and understanding of what is happening in China and they are very well versed. In fact, speaking to them and getting an understanding of what they are and who they are has given us a lot of comfort,” Khing said, likening the club’s unfolding relationship with the American market to dating. “When you reach a certain point, somebody has to do a proposal, so I think we are taking a step now.”
China Horse Club closed its exclusive ranks when it reached 300 members, Khing said. Those members, who reportedly paid over $1.25 million to join the club, are being encouraged to learn more about the investment possibilities with broodmares.
The club began selling yearlings in the American market this fall, including a $600,000 War Front filly bred from Grade 1 winner Last Full Measure, by Empire Maker, who was acquired for $1.5 million at the 2014 Keeneland November Sale.
“That’s definitely a medium to long-term vision, not just to buy mares to sell, but to buy mares to keep in America so that hopefully they can produce to good stallions and our members can see them as an investment tool,” Khing said. “Every year we look at good mares as an investment.”
Embellish The Lace, a $320,000 yearling purchase by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong, won the prestigious Alabama Stakes at Saratoga and was offered last year at Fasig-Tipton as a broodmare prospect. By Super Saver and a half sister to Travers Stakes winner Afleet Express from the family of Florida Derby winner Materiality, she was not sold at that time on a bid of $1.9 million.
“She’s a mare we’ve been following for a good 18 months really, an elite racemare,” Wallace said. “It’s a beautiful family, with multiple high quality relations; so, [she is] a young mare in foal to a phenomenal stallion. The way she looks, if she can produce foals that look like herself, they’ll be sought after in the ring.
“She’s a jewel in any crown,” he added.
China Horse Club added another jewel to its portfolio at Fasig-Tipton when Wallace bid $1.3 million for Tapas, a five-year-old unraced daughter of Tapit who is a half-sister to Justwhistledixie, a Grade 2 winner and dam of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day and multiple Grade 2 winner Mohaymen. Tapas is carrying her second foal to the cover of Medaglia D’Oro after producing a Distorted Humor colt in February for Castleton Lyons.
“She was one of the better looking mares here, we thought, a good, big robust mare,” Wallace said of the dappled gray. “It’s a family that’s been on the move this year and we’re happy to participate.”
Other China Horse Club purchases at Fasig-Tipton were Dothraki Queen, a three-year-old Grade 1-placed, Grade 2 winner by Pure Prize who was sold as a racing or broodmare prospect and cost $950,000; five-year-old multiple Grade 2 winner Spelling Again, by Awesome Again, for $800,000, and Sweet Saturday, a half-sister to Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator, for $70,000.
Wallace pointed out that China Horse Club has invested in young stallions such as Exaggerator, who will begin his stud career next year at WinStar Farm, and Juddmonte’s multiple Grade 1 winner Flinstshire, who will stand at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms, in addition to California Chrome. The 2017 matings for the mares that are being purchased at the November sales will be determined soon, he said.
“We’re just beginning to expand our presence and our involvement here in America. We’ve studied and looked at the market slowly, and now we feel like we’re in a position to become more active,” Wallace said. “We’re also going to participate in the selling market, which began this year. It’s really starting to move and come together nicely.”
China Horse Club also has around 20 mares in Europe and an investment in the stallion Australia, who stands at Coolmore in Ireland, he said.