Thaw in the big freeze as Godolphin buy four yearlings by Coolmore sires
John Gosden to the fore in Sheikh Mohammed's team for post-Ferguson era
After dipping a toe in the water the previous day with two yearlings by the deceased Scat Daddy, Sheikh Mohammed's team at Keeneland went for full immersion on Tuesday by buying four yearlings by Coolmore sires. The prolonged freeze on such purchases, during John Ferguson's tenure as the Sheikh's principal bloodstock adviser, appears to be well and truly over.
Marshalled by trainer John Gosden, Godolphin representatives bought a total of seven yearlings on the second day of the Keeneland September yearling sale. These included a pair of colts by Australia, a filly by Uncle Mo and a Lookin At Lucky half-brother to Grade 1 winner Collected.
The aggregate investment made Godolphin the leading buyer of the day, and second only to Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell for the first two Keeneland sale sessions combined.
"We're trying to buy nice racehorses, it's as simple as that," Gosden said. "It's not easy, but that's what we're trying to do."
Early in the session, Gosden and Anthony Stroud prevailed in a bidding duel with the Coolmore team for a colt by Australia out of a half-sister to French stakes winner Destruct and from the family of Flintshire.
"He's a very athletic colt," Gosden said simply of the $490,000 purchase as he and Stroud – very much back in the picture, following Ferguson's resignation earlier this year, and here in a team that also included David Loder and Eoin Harty – headed off to inspect more yearlings. He indicated that the colt, bred by Dixiana Farms and offered through Four Star Sales, would be sent to Europe for racing.
The price thrilled his consignors. "That exceeded our expectations, but he was a great horse. When everything goes right and two organisations of that calibre are bidding, good things can happen," said Kerry Cauthen of Four Stars.
Godolphin added another colt by Australia when going to $300,000 for a son of the stakes-placed Giant's Causeway mare Magical Steps. Bred under the Samac banner associated with the family of Timmy Hyde, the colt is from the family of European champion Gay Gallanta and French champion Gay Mecene.Dubawi colt out of the Grade 1-winning Empire Maker mare Icon Project, offered as Hip 333, Gosden successfully handled bidding on Hip 334, a $625,000 Super Saver colt out of a sister to graded winner Ocho Ocho Ocho.
Godolphin also paid $475,000 for an Uncle Mo filly, Hip 240, out of a half-sister to multiple Graded stakes winner Mister Marti Gras. "She's a lovely filly," Gosden said. "She'll be racing here in America."
Another purchase staying on American soil will be the $300,000 Lookin At Lucky colt out of the dam of Collected, conqueror of Arrogate in the Pacific Classic. Co-bred and sold by Runnymede Farm, the chestnut yearling looks a precocious type. "He's a very athletic horse, a very nice horse," Stroud said. "He comes from a very good farm and is very light on his feet."
Godolphin's other purchase was a $340,000 More Than Ready filly bred by Stonestreet Farm from Grade 2-placed stakes winner Lady Samuri, by First Samurai.
With Sheikh Hamdan on the scene, but preferring privacy, his team has been making its purchases (solely colts so far) from a private room at Keeneland. In addition to a $2.5 million Tapit colt and a $1.2 million son of War Front acquired in Book 1, Shadwell added a $900,000 Cairo Prince half-brother to Grade 1 winner Sam's Sister during the second session.
Last year Godolphin was relatively subdued at this sale, Ferguson buying only five yearlings. Shadwell led all buyers at the 2016 sale, with 15 purchases totalling $10.75 million.