Devious Intent, who defeated multiple champion Groupie Doll last summer, brought a price of $350,000 from Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings to top the Feb. 9 opening session of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale.
Consigned as Hip 138 by James B. Keogh's Grovendale as agent for Kevin Hulse's TK Stables, Devious Intent was sold as a broodmare prospect. On the track, the 5-year-old daughter of Dixie Union earned $279,041 while winning four of 17 starts. Her two stakes triumphs included the 2013 Gardenia Stakes (gr. III) at Ellis Park in which Groupie Doll finished third.
The bid from Stonestreet was taken over the phone by a Fasig-Tipton representative seated in the rear of the sale pavilion.
Keogh, who said the price was in line with his expectations, said Stonestreet's advisor John Moynihan had inspected the mare so the consignor was not surprised that is where she is going.
"She fits the profile of their broodmare band." Keogh said, adding that the mare had a lot characteristics of Dixie Union and his sire, Dixieland Band, and of Machiavellian, the sire of Devious Intent's dam Hafifah.
Hulse had purchased the mare for $75,000 from the Taylor Made Sales Agency's consignment to the 2012 Keeneland November breeding stock sale on the advice of Jared Hughes of Hughes Bloodstock. Hulse said the main goal was to get the mare to place in a graded stake and then resell her as a broodmare. Winning the Gardenia over the likes of Groupie Doll was a bonus for the mare trained in 2013 by Kellyn Gorder.
"It was kind of bittersweet," Hulse said of selling Devious Intent, the first graded stakes winner for the small stable. "We just took our time with her and let her be happy. Our whole goal was to get her graded stakes-placed, improve her value, and race her until she told us she didn't want to do it anymore.
"We could have put her in foal and sold her next November, or kept her and sold foals out of her, but she's such a nice filly that I truly wanted a nice farm to get her that has availability to the kind of stallions she should be bred to. She will be just fine (at Stonestreet). She has a lot of class and does the right things and I think that is what a horse is able to pass along—that intelligence and ability."
With several inches of snow on the ground and the temperature barely hovering about the freezing mark, the auction began on a solid note, with the sales company reporting 122 sold for a $4,475,100 gross. The session averaged $36,681, with a $16,000 median. The 31 horses not sold represented 20.2% of the total 153 through the ring.
Comparisons could not be made with the previous year's sale that took place over one day and included a large reduction in bloodstock from prominent owner Eugene Melnyk's Winding Oaks Farm. Boosted by the Melnyk horses, last year's sale saw 245 sell for $13,781,700, an average price of $56,252, and a median of $15,000.
This year, Fasig-Tipton has cataloged 588 horses over two days. Last year's catalog consisted of 277 head.
"It has been very solid and very encouraging," Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said, noting that the auction was well-attended considering the elements. "We had a lot of people out here looking yesterday (Feb. 8) and it was a raw day."
Placed where it is on the calendar—just after the start of the new year and just prior to opening of the breeding sheds—the February sale has become a solid venue for a variety of horses, Browning said.
"It has been a great spot to sell fillies and mares just off the track at all price ranges," he said. "And it has developed into a pretty nice market for short yearlings (foals of 2013 that turned 1 on Jan. 1)."
Second-highest price at the first session of $300,000 was paid by Louise and Kiki Coutelis' Paris, Ky.-based Town & Country Farms for multiple grade II winner Cluster of Stars. Consigned as Hip 99 by Taylor Made Sales, the 5-year-old daughter of Greeley's Galaxy was undefeated in seven career starts and earned $549,000. She was sold as a broodmare prospect.
"She was the best-looking mare in the sale," said Taylor Made's Shannon Potter, an advisor to Town & Country who signed the ticket. He said the mare would likely be bred to first-year stallion Graydar .
Considering the mare's race record, Potter said Town & Country was not concerned about the lack of stakes horses in the first two dams of Cluster of Stars.
"She was a talented runner. What she did on the track speaks for itself," Potter said, adding that Town & Country had success purchasing mares with similar pedigrees and reselling them at a profit.
"We were definitely buying based on looks and race record," Potter said. "And she's pretty darn good looking. She's correct, she's got a great shoulder, has a lot of bone, has a pretty head. She's what you want physically for a broodmare."
Top price for a just-turned yearling was the $200,000 bid from Wounded Warrior Stable for Hip 68, a Bernardini filly produced from grade III winner Bohemian Lady, a half sister to grade I winner and sire Any Given Saturday. The filly, foaled Feb. 7, 2013, was consigned by Hidden Brook as agent.
The sale at the Fasig-Tipton sales headquarters in Lexington concludes Feb. 10 with a session that begins at 10 a.m. (EST).