Leon Pays $1.2 Million for Bernardini Filly
Photo: Joseph DiOrio
Hip #307, filly; Bernardini - Silk n' Sapphire by Smart Strike brings $1.2 million at the Keeneland September sale on Sept. 13.

Benjamin Leon Jr.’s Besilu Stable went to $1.2 million to acquire a Bernardini   filly produced from the Smart Strike mare Silk n’ Sapphire to top the early portion of the Keeneland September sale's open sessions Sept. 13. Silk n' Sapphire is the dam of multiple graded stakes winner Shared Account, winner of last year's Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).

Consigned by Catherine Parke’s Valkyre Stud as Hip No. 307, the Kentucky-bred filly was bred by Parke and Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation.

Leon, who was second-leading buyer during the first two Keeneland sessions, said the filly cost more than he expected. “For fillies, or colts, that are the whole package…it is not easy,” Leon said of the bidding process.

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He said the filly was rated by trainer Todd Pletcher and his father, J. J. Pletcher, as one of the best in the sale, even though she was being offered during a non-selected session. “When we saw her we concluded she was the best of the day and one of the best of the sale. Right up there with the best.

“She is just one of those fillies with very good racing potential and a very good broodmare for the future,” said Leon, who is putting together a program that stresses buying quality fillies that will eventual become part of Besilu’s broodmare band.

“My passion is breeding and to breed you need excellent broodmares,” Leon said. “You can buy stud fees to stallions, but you cannot buy a uterus from a mare, so you have to buy the mare.

“When the economy improves, prices for Thoroughbreds are going to go back up,” Leon said of his aggressive buying in a depressed market.


Leon said he has a budget for his purchases and will be buying broodmares and weanlings during the fall breeding stock sale.

“We are not trying to buy quantity,” Leon said. “If we were we would be buying $200,000 horses. We’re trying to put (together) quality.”

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