The Fares Farm dispersal at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale Jan. 7-11 conjured a lot of bittersweet emotions and memories for the Fares family and Shannon White, who managed the Lexington-based farm for the last 12 years.
But—as the saying goes—sometimes good things must come to an end.
"It's a sad day for my family—we're very unhappy to be leaving the industry," said Nijad Fares, whose father, Issam Fares, owns the farm. "We love the aspects of racing and the horses—we care for them like family. But we do not like the state of the industry. Although my father loves being involved and loves Lexington, he is not in the habit of losing money.
"In this day in age, the industry is a little lopsided business-wise. Hopefully it will correct itself as it's done in the past. But in the meantime, it just doesn't make sense financially (for us to be involved)."
All the Fares dispersal horses were handled by consignor William S. Farish's Lane's End, agent. In all, 78 were sold for $7,313,000, an average of $93,756, and a median of $56,000.
"We're not surprised, but we're happy at the outcome (of the sale figures)," said Nijad Fares.
Added White: "(The horses) were so well received and there was justification in the whole effort. The enthusiasm people were showing for these animals...it's a good representation of the excellence of the Fares breeding program. I think (that excellence) was well-shown and the horses were well-presented. When you take something into the marketplace and it's as well-received as you anticipated, there's a relief that comes with that."
Included in those sold were 29 six-figure horses, led by Supreme, a stakes-winning 6-year-old daughter of Empire Maker who was bought for $800,000 by Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings. In foal to Giant's Causeway , Supreme is out of the Maria's Mon mare Mon Belle, a full sister to Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos .
"I'm forever appreciative to the Fares family for all the wonderful opportunities, but especially with this filly," said White. "She was an $80,000 yearling, but she's such a neat, little filly and the first foal out of the mare, so we took a chance. I remember the Tampa race (Lightning City Stakes, second) where she was off the screen and I was on the phone with Nijad and he was screaming. Hearing that excitement in his voice is probably the most rewarding thing of the past 12 years. So seeing her sell for $800,000 was far beyond my expectations."
The second-highest-priced mare out of the Fares dispersal was French stakes winner Mousse Au Chocolat, a daughter of Hennessy who was bought for $325,000 by Dermot Cantillon's Ireland-based Forenaughts Stud in Co. Kildare. Mousse Au Chocolat, who was sold in foal to Tiznow , is out of the Miswaki mare Muskoka Dawn, who is a half sister to stakes winners Sigrun and Spectacular April. Mousse Au Chocolat is also a half sister to graded stakes-placed runner and graded stakes producer Bala (by With Approval).
Mousse Au Chocolat's $230,000 Pulpit filly, her first foal, was the highest-priced yearling during the Jan. 8 session of the Fares dispersal. The chestnut was bought by John Stuart and Peter Bance's Nicholasville, Ky.-based Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services, agent.
The one major disappointment of the sale was withdrawing Canadian champion Embur's Song due to the daughter of Unbridled's Song having recently undergone colic surgery. In foal to Giant's Causeway, she was expected to draw strong buyer attention at the auction.
Nijad Fares expressed a special gratitude for the services of Lane's End following the Keeneland dispersal.
"Very few people in this industry actually do what they claim and what they say, and these guys do," he noted. "They're professional and have taken great care of our horses. We will continue to have a great relationship with them and use them in any way we can in the future."
Nijad Fares, a Houston, Texas-based businessman, noted that his father would retain the 760-acre Fares Farm property sans the horses, as well as his box seats at Keeneland, as he plans to continue visiting Lexington with his family.
Issam Fares, a prominent Lebanese statesman and philanthropist and chairman of the Houston-based investment company Wedge Group, spends the majority of his time in Europe and will continue to race campaign horses there with trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. Fares will also continue to operate his other breeding facility, Haras de Manneville near Banneville La Campagne in Sannerville, France.