Don Alberto hope they have their next Unique Bella in $1.4m Tapit filly
The Chilean powerhouse owners had less luck as vendors on day one
When Liliana Solari went to take her assigned seat in the Keeneland sale pavilion late during Monday’s opening session, she found to her dismay that it and the one adjacent were occupied by men wearing cowboy hats.
Hindered by a language gap with the men, who did not understand when she asked for her seat, the Chilean doyenne reluctantly opted to find another place where she could get a good view of the grey Tapit filly that soon afterwards would be bought by her family’s Don Alberto Corp for $1.4 million.
“We like good pedigrees in mares,” Solari said after being appointed by her son, Carlos Heller, to talk about the purchase of the session’s most expensive filly and third highest-priced yearling of the day. “We own Unique Bella, [champion female sprinter in 2017] and she is by the same sire.”
“Hopefully, she is the new Unique Bella,” declared Don Alberto executive director Fabricio Buffolo of the filly. “We’re very happy to have her.”
Don Alberto, a Chilean powerhouse in racing and breeding which burst on to the North American scene in 2013 after purchasing Vinery farm in Lexington, now has 110 mares there and intends on becoming a larger force at the September sale next year as a seller, Buffolo said, while continuing to make strategic purchases.
The Tapit filly, sold by Taylor Made Sales Agency as hip 203 on behalf of Albaugh Family Stables, will, in time, be an outstanding broodmare prospect for the nursery. The filly is a half sister to Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up and Grade 3 winner Not This Time and stakes winner Taylor S.
With that pedigree and an athletic build, the filly was something of a bargain, said Taylor Made president Duncan Taylor.
“I think the filly is one of the best fillies we’ve ever raised,” Taylor said. “That looks like a lot of money but that was inexpensive, if somebody has the money, because that filly, even if she never runs, can produce $1 million or $2 million yearlings every year.”
Taylor said he expected the daughter of Grade 3 winner Miss Macy Sue, by Trippi, would draw an even higher final bid.
“I thought she could bring $2 million,” he said. “I don’t think it was a bad sale - anytime you can get over $1 million for a yearling, you’ve got to be happy, but I think the buyers got a great buy.”
“Sometimes you’ve got to make that decision to sell. We want to buy a lot of colts at this sale, so we decided to sell her, but it was a tough decision,” said Jason Loutsch, general manager for Albaugh Family Stables.
In addition to Not This Time, Albaugh Family Stables has raced Grade 1 winners Brody’s Cause and Free Drop Billy.
Don Alberto, meanwhile, was not as lucky as a seller on the first day. An Empire Maker colt bred by the farm out of Grade 3 winner La Cloche, a $2.4 million acquisition in 2014 who already is a stakes producer herself in addition to being a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Winter Memories, was listed as not sold at $145,000.
“It’s been a good market, although sometimes you’ll see it’s been a little bit spotty,” Buffolo said. “So many horses [989 in Book 1] to go through, and I think some of the buyers have found it a little bit difficult going through all of the horses with not much time.
"Maybe next year it will be a three-day event. We hope so. But overall, it’s going well.”
Don Alberto is not finishing with selling. Yearlings entered in the sale by the farm include Hip 665 on Wednesday, an Empire Maker colt out of a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Aldiza from the family of Broodmare of the Year Courtly Dee.
Buffolo also reported that Unique Bella is now resting at the farm following her recent retirement after fracturing a sesamoid during a workout.
“She’s very calm and relaxed and is just enjoying her surroundings there. At the end of the year, we have a tough decision to make on who she’s going to be bred to,” he said.
Read more from Keeneland...