He's the Daddy once again as tragic sire's last crop remains in heavy demand
$1.1 million session-topper on his way to Ballydoyle
Though the changed format continues to make year-on-year comparisons difficult, the fact that 11 seven-figure yearlings have been sold during the first three days of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale – compared with nine across the whole sale in 2016 – is one valid measure of a continued bull run. And certainly Wednesday's third session, the second of Book 2, again saw spirited bidding among the industry's major buyers driving prices upward.
The headline act once again was Scat Daddy, whose final crop has been in such demand. MV Magnier of Coolmore, hoping for an heir to the stud's much-lamented sire, paid the day's top price of $1.1 million for his son out of the Tapit mare Orchard Beach.
Another Scat Daddy colt had also topped the opening session of Book 2, when sold to Kerri Radcliffe Bloodstock for $950,000.
This one, Hip 578, is an Ontario-bred consigned by his breeder, David Anderson. "I'm more than thrilled," Anderson said. "I mean this is over the top: my first million-dollar horse, and I couldn't ask for a better home for him. I just hope he goes on and does well for the connections. He's going to one of the greatest trainers in the world [Aidan O'Brien].
"As the momentum built on the last day, a lot of the proper players in the game were looking at the horse. I felt like the stars were aligned for a big price, I just didn't know how much. Scat Daddy has been very good to me, and I got on the bandwagon late. He's just been a tremendous sire and I think it's evident with the prices of his yearlings."
Magnier also partnered with Peter Brant's White Birch Farm to purchase Hip 804, a colt by Quality Road for $1 million. Trainer Chad Brown signed the ticket for the colt, a full brother to multiple Grade 2 winner Blofeld. Out of the stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Storm Minstrel, he was consigned by Indian Creek, agent.
"We thought he was one of the nicest colts we saw all week," Brown said. "He's got a good pedigree. He's everything we're looking for."
The day's third millionaire was also secured by a partnership. After bidding against each other for horses, Kerri Radcliffe and Eric Fein teamed up to pay $1 million for Hip 844, a colt by Orb consigned by Dromoland Farm, agent.
Through the session, Keeneland reported 194 yearlings sold for a total of $47,018,000, an average of $242,361 and a median of $180,000. With 97 horses failing to meet their reserves, the RNA rate was 33.3 per cent.
"A very good day," Keeneland director of sales operations Geoffrey Russell said. "Book 2 started off strong on Tuesday and continued through today. Having three million-dollar horses was a great bonus. The sires – Scat Daddy, Quality Road, and Orb – are good North American stock but were bought by an international market.
"The new format [a single Book 1 session followed by a three-day Book 2] is doing what we wanted it to do. It continues to show the results we expected. Buyers have been very engaged all the way through and prices have been very good."
Falling just short of seven figures was Hip 564, a colt from the first crop of Will Take Charge, who was acquired by Willis Horton Racing – who raced the Three Chimneys sire – for $975,000. The colt, consigned by Jody and Michelle Huckabay of Elm Tree Farm, was bred by Elm Tree, Curt Leake, and Bart and Angie Stark from an unraced Bernardini mare purchased for just $150,000 while carrying the colt in utero.
Since the colt was catalogued his half-brother Hunter O'Riley had won the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga.
"I've sold a lot of high dollars but nothing like this. He's a very, very good horse..." he said, choking back tears. "I just can't talk."
Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell paid $750,000 for Hip 790, a War Front colt from the family of Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, consigned by Claiborne Farm, agent. The colt is out of the Grade 3-winning Empire Maker mare Stanwyck.
"I'm really excited, but I loved him: he's special," breeder Ramona Bass said. "He's going to a great place, so got to be happy with that, right? I spent a lot of money on the mare [sold for $2.4 million at Keeneland's 2014 November Breeding Stock Sale], and so I feel like it's important to try and make some of that money back. I'm excited for the new owners – and for him."Bodemeister from the family of Grade 2 winner Tapiture. Gainesway, agent, consigned the colt, who is out of the stakes-winning Tapit mare Remit.
The leading buyer Wednesday was agent Mike Ryan, who purchased eight yearlings for $2,575,000. Lane's End was the leading consignor with sales of $4,345,000 for 19 yearlings.
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