‘Unrivaled Belle’ Brings Highest Price at Public Auction in the World at Keeneland

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The bullish market continued Wednesday at Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale with eight million-dollar-plus sales, topped by the $3.8 million paid by Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) winner and millionaire Unrivaled Belle, in foal to leading sire Tapit. The purchase price for Unrivaled Belle is the highest for a Thoroughbred sold at public auction in the world this year.

Keeneland on Tuesday sold 138 horses for $52,764,000, down 17.28 percent from the second session in 2015 when 143 horses, including champion Take Charge Brandi at $6 million, grossed $63,784,000. The average of $382,348 was 14.28 percent below last year’s $446,042, while the median of $260,000 was four percent higher than $250,000 last year.

Through the first two days of the sale, which comprise the premier Book 1 portion of the auction, Keeneland sold a total of 253 horses for $102,919,000, a decrease of 5.47 percent from the first two sessions in 2015 when 279 horses brought $108,878,000. The cumulative average of $406,794 rose 4.24 percent from $390,244 in 2015. Median price was up 13.04 percent from $230,000 to $260,000.

“Book 1 was a very good sale from start to finish,” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell said. “Today’s sale was strong across the board, strong for mares, strong for foals. Both days were more even compared to last year when the second day was much stronger.”

“The market has been unbelievable,” said Pope, the session’s leading buyer with two purchases for $4.85 million. During the opening two days of the November Sale, Pope spent a total of $8.15 million for four mares and one 3-year-old filly, including one horse purchased in partnership with Gainesway.

“If you want the nice mares and the nice weanlings, you have to pay for them right now,” she continued. “That’s all there is to it.”
Unrivaled Belle, a daughter of Grade 2 winner Queenie Belle, by Bertrando, is the dam of the promising 2-year-old Tapit filly Unique Bella, in training in Southern California with Jerry Hollendorfer.

“Ladies and gentlemen: I am done shopping. She’s gorgeous,” Pope said about Unrivaled Belle. “She is a big-size mare, rangy, good bone but not overly huge. I think she is a good fit for Tapit. She was my pick of the sale.”

Unrivaled Belle was consigned by Eaton Sales, agent, which led all consignors by selling 25 horses for $14.22 million, among them three of the day’s top 10-priced horses.

“We’ve had a great sale,” Reiley McDonald of Eaton said. “The market has been good all the way. I think it may even be stronger here today than yesterday.”
Grade 3 winner and Grade 1-placed Feathered, in foal to top sire War Front, sold for $2.35 million to Summer Wind Equine. The 4-year-old Indian Charlie mare out of the stakes-placed Dynaformer mare Receipt was consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent.

“I’m still a little shell-shocked, but that’s okay,” Jane Lyon of Summer Wind said. “I thought we could get her for a little less than that, but (she’s from) an old Phipps family (with) graded stakes (winners) on dirt and grass. (She’s) in foal to War Front (and is) young and beautiful. The only thing she hasn’t done yet is produced but we are counting on that.”

Marette Farrell, agent for Mount Brilliant Farm, paid $2.2 million for stakes-placed winner Ithinkisawapudycat, dam of 2016 Spinaway (G1) (in a dead heat) and Schuylerville (G3) winner Sweet Loretta and in foal to Constitution. Ashview Farm, agent, consigned the 7-year-old daughter of Bluegrass Cat who is a half-sister to Canadian champion Spring in the Air.

“We are happy to get her,” Mount Brilliant’s Greg Goodman said. “We have tried (to purchase) several others and this is the one we wanted so it is great. She was great looking, and she is also the dam of a graded stakes winner.”
Paola Queen, the 2016 Test (G1) winner, sold for $1.7 million to SF Bloodstock. Consigned by Brookdale Sales, agent, the 3-year-old daughter of Flatter out of Kadira, by Kafwain, was cataloged as a racing or broodmare prospect.

“Absolute pick of the day,” Tom Ryan of SF Bloodstock said. “She’s just such a beautiful mare. To win the Test at Saratoga, a premier race – and she’s such a good dirt filly. We can breed her to anything; maybe she’ll go back into training. How good would she be for (the stallion) Pioneerof the Nile? Absolutely (there’s a chance she would race again). Why not?”

Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent, consigned the sale’s top-priced weanling, a War Front colt out of Drifting Cube (AUS), by Encosta de Lago, sold for $1.45 million to Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier.
“We have had a lot of success with the family in the past,” Magnier said. “Rubick (a Group 2 winner and full brother to Drifting Cube) was one of the fastest 2-year olds of his crop (in Australia) and I think the second time he ran was one of the best in history down there. Hopefully this colt will compare. I thought he was a very good mover; he has a lot of quality. Let’s hope that he keeps on improving.”
Pope paid $1.05 million for Grade 1-placed stakes winner Miss Empire, in foal to Medaglia d’Oro Also consigned by Eaton Sales, agent, the 6-year-old daughter of Empire Maker out of the Rajab mare Miss Excitement is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Bordonaro.

“I am a big fan of Empire Maker, and I was thrilled when Gainesway brought him back to America (from Japan),” Pope said. “She is a gorgeous, very elegant mare. She was a really nice racehorse at two so hopefully her babies will have some speed. Seeing her Tapit filly (who sold for $975,000 as Hip 255) gave me confidence that she can throw a nice baby.”

Pope said she plans to breed Miss Empire to Tapit.

Lael Stables paid $1.05 million for the 4-year-old Indian Charlie mare Lassofthemohicans, in foal to Pioneerof the Nile, consigned by Denali Stud, agent. From the family of champion Housebuster, Lassofthemohicans is out of Dream Street, by Tale of the Cat.

A weanling son of Tapit who is a half-brother to champion Honor Code and Grade 2 winner Noble Tune sold for $1.05 million to Baccari Bloodstock. Out of Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat, he was consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent.
“I got the horse I wanted out of this sale, and I’m very happy about that,” Chris Baccari of Baccari Bloodstock said. “That’s a very hard pedigree to get into. I happened to see the colt on the farm ahead of time so I had that ability to see what I was getting into. He is just a very special horse. Very hard to find that kind of pedigree with that kind of sire power.”

Baccari said the colt was purchased for a partnership. “We will race him or resell him; we still have to figure that out,” he said.

“Most of the time I come up here and get blown out of the water,” he said. “I have just learned you have to be ready.”

A final price of $1 million was incorrectly displayed on the bid board following the sale of Hip 255, the weanling filly by Tapit out of Miss Empire. Immediately following the sale, it was discovered that both the successful buyer and the underbidder had each made bids of $950,000. A $1 million bid was not made. The tie was resolved between them with White Birch Farm purchasing the filly for $975,000.
The November Sale continues through Sunday, Nov. 20. Sessions start at 10 a.m. ET. The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.

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