LEXINGTON, KY (Nov. 8, 2016) – Group 2 winner Secret Gesture (GB), carrying her first foal by War Front, brought $3.5 million during Tuesday’s opening day of Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale, which was marked by the sale of 10 horses for $1 million or more – the most for the session since 2011 – along with double-digit increases in results and competition among many of the world’s leading buyers.
Tuesday was the first of two sessions comprising the sale’s premier Book 1 catalog, which features graded stakes-winning fillies, stakes-producing broodmares in foal to prominent sires and top-quality weanlings. Keeneland sold 115 horses for $50,155,000, up 11.22 percent from 2015 when 136 horses brought a total of $45,094,000. The average of $436,130 jumped 31.53 percent from last year’s $331,574, while the median increased 28.39 percent to $260,000 from $202,500.
“Today’s session was strong with great international appeal, from the Japanese and from many different buyers,” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell said. “We had 10 seven-figure horses this year versus seven last year with three horses bringing more than $2 million. Meanwhile, the weanling market seemed to be very strong. We knew going into the sale that we had a beautiful group of foals this year.
“Because of this quality, buyers felt they had to stretch farther to buy horses,” Russell added. “One major buyer told me he has two choices: either stretch or go home with nothing. He and other buyers realized they would have to spend more.”
Consigned by Hunter Valley Farm, agent, Secret Gesture is a 6-year-old daughter of Galileo (IRE) out of the winning Danehill mare Shastye (IRE), a half-sister to Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) winner Sagamix and French Group 1 winner Sagacity. She is a full sister to Group 3 winner Sir Isaac Newton.
Secret Gesture competed in top stakes company in England, Ireland, France, Germany and the U.S. during four seasons of racing, winning the 2015 Middleton (G2) at York and running second in the Epsom Oaks (G1). Last year at five, she finished first in the Beverly D (G1) at Arlington but was disqualified to third.
“A lovely mare, and an outstanding race filly in Europe,” John Ferguson, the principal buyer for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said. “A beautiful family, so from our point of view she was a mare that could make the difference. We are delighted to have her. We thought it was about the right price for her. I suspect she will go back to Europe.”
Secret Gesture raced for Qatar Racing Ltd. and her breeder, Newsells Park Stud.
“It was mixed emotions seeing her sell because she is a very rare commodity,” Qatar’s David Redvers said. “Ideally, we would like to keep her, but that is an awful lot of money. She is going to a great home.”
With the lone purchase, Ferguson was the session’s leading buyer.
Grade 1 winner Celestine, cataloged as a racing or broodmare prospect, sold for $2.55 million to Moyglare Stud Farm. Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, consigned the 4-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy out of the Monarchos mare Mona Mia. Celestine, who set a stakes record in Belmont’s Just a Game (G1), was third in Keeneland’s First Lady (G1) on Oct. 8.
Fiona Craig, who signed the ticket for Celestine on behalf of Moyglare Stud, said the filly will return to training to continue her career for her new owner. She will be sent to trainer Christophe Clement at Payson Park training center in South Florida.
“We are trying to get some fast mares,” Craig said. “We have some great broodmares in Ireland, but fast, world-record speed is not something we are famous for. We are more known for older, late- maturing, very good (horses). We thought we would add some speed. She is a lovely racemare. Obviously it is hard to get one who has already won a Grade 1.”
Summer Wind Equine paid $2.2 million for Grade 3 winner Tapicat in foal to Pioneerof the Nile. Consigned by Three Chimneys Farm, the 6-year-old mare out of the Storm Cat mare Zealous Cat is from the family of champion Track Robbery and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Cat Thief.
“She’s a graded stakes mare and hopefully if she reproduces herself we will get (the purchase price) back,” Jane Lyon of Summer Wind said. “We are trying to get a little heavier toward the upper end and maybe retire some of the mares who haven’t done what we had hoped. She is an exceptionally beautiful mare and you have to have the looks to get a foal that people want to buy. I hope she can do it. It certainly didn’t hurt (that she was in foal to Pioneerof the Nile). I love Pioneerof the Nile.”
Two winners of Keeneland’s Darley Alcibiades (G1), each now in foal to Tapit, sold for seven figures.
The 2013 Darley Alcibiades winner, My Conquestadory, brought $1.5 million from SF Bloodstock and Australia’s New Gate Farm. The 5-year-old daughter of Artie Schiller out of Golden Artemis, by Malibu Moon, was consigned by Lane’s End, agent for the Complete Dispersal of Conquest Stables.
“A very beautiful mare,” Tom Ryan of SF Bloodstock said. “A fantastic race mare in foal to the best stallion in the country. She’s a gorgeous mare; she is most likely going to go to Australia (and be bred to New Gate stallions) Capitalist or Extreme Choice.”
Peace and War, the 2014 Darley Alcibiades winner, sold for $1.45 million to Katsumi Yoshida of Japan’s Northern Farm. A 4-year-old by War Front out of More Oats Please, by Smart Strike, Peace and War was consigned by Hunter Valley Farm, agent.
Bringing $1.4 million from Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm was Princesa Silvia, a winning 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro who is a half-sister to Horse of the Year and successful sire Saint Liam. Consigned by Three Chimneys Farm, agent, Princesa Silvia is out of the Quiet American mare Quiet Dance. She is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Quiet Giant, dam of 2015 Kentucky Derby (G1) third-place finisher Gun Runner.
Two mares sold for $1.3 million each. Three Chimneys Farm, agent, consigned Del Mar Oaks (G1) winner Summer Soiree, in foal to Medaglia d’Oro, who sold to Dr. M. Iida. China Horse Club bought Yellow Ribbon (G2) winner She’s Not Here, who is from the immediate family of Horse of the Year Zenyatta, from the consignment of Lane’s End, agent.
Bringing $1 million each were Canadian Horse of the Year Lexie Lou, consigned by Bluewater Sales, agent, and sold to KI Farm, and Grade 2 winner Dust and Diamonds, in foal to Pioneerof the Nile, purchased by Katsumi Yoshida.
Dust and Diamonds’ weanling colt by Pioneerof the Nile was the day’s top-priced weanling, selling to R.C. Thoroughbreds for $600,000. Both Dust and Diamonds and her colt were consigned by Three Chimneys Farm, agent.
Clear Ridge Stables paid $525,000 for the top-priced weanling filly, a daughter of Tapit out of stakes winner Colonial Flag, by Pleasant Tap. Colonial Flag is a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) winner Shared Account. She was consigned by Lane’s End, agent.
“She was a super filly, gorgeous balance, beautiful pedigree,” Brian Graves, who signed the ticket, said. “We thought she had a chance to be a million-dollar yearling, so she’ll come back (and be resold in 2017). We have a partnership together, a bunch of people went in. I bought her with Jamie Hill and another investor. There’s always worries (on a high-priced pinhook), but Tapit averages over $600,000 and I think she is far above average. She certainly has an above-average pedigree and I feel safe.”
Three Chimneys Sales was the session’s leading consignor, selling 17 horses for $12,975,000.
The November Sale continues through Sunday, Nov. 20. Wednesday’s session begins at 11 a.m. ET The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.