Away, the dam of the ill-fated Eight Belles, was purchased for $2.5 million during the opening session of the 2008 Keeneland November breeding stock sale Nov. 3 at the Central Kentucky auction house.
Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock adviser, John Ferguson, signed the ticket for the 11-year-old mare. The $2.5-million price tag makes her the second-highest-priced offering of the day behind the $3 milllion paid for grade I winner Hystericalady, also purchased by Ferguson.
Consigned by Robert N. Clay’s Three Chimneys Sales, agent, Away (Dixieland Band—Be a Prospector, by Mr. Prospector) was sold carrying a full brother to Eight Belles (by Unbridled's Song).
Away has a weanling Dynaformercolt and her yearling Empire Maker filly was purchased by Omar Trevino, agent, for $320,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Three Chimneys owns Away’s 2-year-old daughter, Anchors Away (by Smarty Jones ), who is currently being broken. She will be raced by Three Chimneys.
“I am really happy that John Ferguson got her,” said Case Clay, president of Three Chimneys. “We are happy with the price and happy that she is going to a good home.”
Clay said it wasn’t an easy decision to place Away in the auction. “We have her 2-year-old filly and that takes a little bit of the sting out (of selling Away),” he said. “We are just happy all around, and we still have ovaries in the family. She (Away) is all class. When we were going over what we thought she might bring, she really doesn’t have any holes. She is a Dixieland Band mare, she did it on the racetrack, and she is the dam of Eight Belles. We are a commercial operation, and she is probably at the high point of her value.”
The current world economic situation and the state of the Thoroughbred market concerned Clay when the decision was made the enter the mare in the sale. “There was concern about what price she would bring,” he said. “The market has been pretty tough, but it is looking like at the top end it is holding up. Her price was the market value. We set the reserve below $2 million, and when the market takes it, it is the market value.”
Eight Belles broke down, fracturing both front ankles in the gallop-out after finishing second to Big Brown in the 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm campaigned the large gray or roan filly, who was trained by Larry Jones.
By finishing second in the Run for the Roses, Eight Belles became just the 10th filly to finish in the money in the Derby, and she is tied for the fourth-best female performer in the race.
Churchill Downs honored Eight Belles with a plaque in the Kentucky Derby Museum garden.
In addition to her Derby performance, Eight Belles ended her career with a record of 5-3-1 from 10 starts. She earned $708,650. Her biggest wins came in the Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) and the Honeybee Stakes (gr. III). She also won the Martha Washington Stakes.
Robert Clay and Serengeti Stables bred Eight Belles in Kentucky.