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Mandy Pope delighted as huge investment begins to show returns

All smiles: Mandy Pope is delighted with her business this week
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Few people in the world, including even the most illustrious breeders, have come close to matching the investment Mandy Pope has made in bloodstock over the last six years.

With broodmare purchases for her Whisper Hill Farm including the $10 million American Horse of the Year Havre De Grace in 2012 and the $9.5m multiple champion Songbird last fall, Pope has been aiming for nothing short of the brightest stars in assembling a bejeweled boutique band of mares at a total cost of over $50 million.

To her delight, those staggering investments are starting to pay significant dividends. Following the conclusion of the four-session Book 1 of the Keeneland September yearling sale on Thursday evening, Pope acknowledged that she is beginning to reach key mileposts on her journey as a commercial breeder.

Sale results

“Absolutely,” she said when asked if the sale had been her best to date. “And we still have seven more to sell on Saturday.”

So far, Pope has owned or co-owned nine yearlings that have been sold for a total of $5.04 million at the September sale, topped by a $1.2m War Front filly out of Betterbetterbetter, a Galileo three-quarter sister to Group 1 winners Yesterday and Quarter Moon, who was acquired by Shadwell.

Pope hit another seven-figure home run on Thursday when Shawn Dugan, agent, signed for a $1.05m Pioneerof The Nile filly, who is a half-sister to a pair of graded winners and another stakes winner.

Pope co-bred and co-owned that filly with Gainesway, which was the consignor.

“It’s been really exciting. It’s been an excellent sale,” said Pope, beaming. “I’m very happy.”

With cash coming in to Whisper Hill, Pope also has been quietly buying a few yearlings to race. So far, she has collected a trio consisting of two fillies and a colt for a total of $1.225m and topped by a $500,000 Tapit filly out of Grade 3 winner Mighty Caroline, by Stormy Atlantic.

Pope said that yearling fillies she buys must have catalog pages that would make them worthy broodmare prospects when their racing careers are over, and the $425,000 Medaglia d’Oro filly she bought out of Canadian Horse of the Year Sealy Hill certainly fits that criterion.

The filly is a half-sister to three graded winners including Canadian champion Hillaby, and both she and the Tapit filly were purchased from the Gainesway consignment.

Pedigrees of the yearlings Pope is selling reflect the high standards she has set for her breeding operation. Betterbetterbetter, acquired for $5.2m at Fasig-Tipton in 2013 while carrying her first foal, was group placed and bred and raced by Coolmore affiliates.

Pope sold the War Front filly Betterbetterbetter was carrying during the Fasig-Tipton sale to Shadwell for $1.45m in 2015 and that filly was named Intisaar, although she has not started. The yearling filly out of Betterbetterbetter that sold this week brought the total realized for the mare’s two offspring sold at auction to $2.65m.

Also this week at Keeneland, a yearling Tapit colt out of Havre de Grace was sold to Japanese film producer Mataichiro Yamamoto for $550,000, marking the first offspring of that mare to be sold at auction. A now three-year-old War Front colt out of the mare failed to be sold in 2016 when a mistake was made on his reserve price.

Godolphin stepped up to buy another Whisper Hill yearling at the September sale, paying $475,000 for a Medaglia d’Oro filly out of Pope’s Grade 1-placed, stakes -winning Empire Maker mare Miss Empire, who she bought for $1.05 million in 2016.

The yearlings Pope sold that had been bred in partnership with Gainesway were out of proven producing mares. Grade 3 winner Graeme Six, dam of the $1.05m Pioneerof The Nile filly, was a $950,000 purchase in 2016 while carrying the filly in utero; this year, she produced a Tapit colt and was bred back to Tapit.

Wickedly Wise, dam of a $700,000 Tapit colt sold to Godolphin by Gainesway and Pope, had been a $500,000 broodmare purchase by Gainesway in 2014.

“Mandy is a big supporter of the farm and our stallions and she’s a great player in the business,” said Gainesway’s Michael Hernon. “She’s starting to get some success now after maybe a bit of a slow start.

"She’s got tremendous mares and (success) is going to happen. It’s inevitable. She’s very good for the game and she’s a very good person. We enjoy her company and we’re having some luck with her now through the sale ring."

Pope also has joined with Gainesway in ownership of 2017 Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit, who Hernon said will stand at the farm next year.

“He’s a great looking horse who was the sale topper at Saratoga. He’s a classic winner and is out of a Grade 1 winner. He’s got the attributes and certainly a license to be a successful stallion,” Hernon said.

“We’re excited about him coming in to the farm. We’re looking forward to having strong support for him from partners like Bridlewood Farm and Mandy Pope, and (Gainesway President) Antony Beck will support the horse aggressively.”

Pope said her partnerships with Gainesway are working out well.

“We have the 2 two mares and we sold out of them well at the September sale, so maybe we’ll be able to buy another mare in November to partner on,” she said.

If you are interested in this, you should read:

Superstar stallions chosen for Pope's elite broodmare band

It’s been really exciting. It’s been an excellent sale
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