Heat Lightning lit up the bid board at Keeneland Thursday, selling for $1.1 million during the fourth session of the November breeding stock auction in Lexington less than two weeks after her son, Stevie Wonderboy, captured the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). English bloodstock agent Hugo Merry and John Stuart of Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services bought the 12-year-old Summer Squall mare for Andrew Rosen. Rosen and his family's Thoroughbred program is known for champions Chris Evert and Chief's Crown.
"We both work for Andrew," said Stuart, who talked with Rosen on his cell phone during the bidding. "Andrew sold his interest in the company that he owned. He has been buying well-bred fillies and kind of thought this mare was pretty cheap on the market for what she's done. We think Stevie Wonderboy is going to win the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). And we're happy that Heat Lightning is carrying filly (by Birdstone). She had a super yearling (by Mr. Greeley) last year. We're very happy with her. We thought we might have to pay a little more than that. This is the first mare he (Rosen) has bought this week."
Produced from the grade III winner Mystical Mood (by Roberto), Heat Lightning is a half-sister to Irish group II winner Fair Judgment and to stakes winner Linda Coqueta. Heat Lightning also is a half-sister to stakes producers Long Silence, Meli Magic, and Spend a Dream.
John Gunther's Longwood Farm consigned Heat Lightning as agent. She was the only horse that brought a seven-figure price in Thursday's session, which generated gains across the board.
Keeneland reported that 251 horses were sold Thursday for a gross of $24,996,200, an average price of $99,586, and a median of $67,000. Compared to last year's fourth session, when 223 horses were sold, the gross rose 33.3% from $18,758,000 and the average increased 18.4% from $84,117. The median advanced 11.7% from $60,000. Meanwhile, the buy-back rate fell from 32.2% in 2004 to 24.2% this year.
"All the indicators are the way we like them; The number of horses sold up, the gross sales up, the average sale up, the median up, and the not solds down," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "Our September (yearling) sale was strong in the middle market, and this is reflecting the strength of the middle market in September. Books three, four, and five (of the catalogue) reflect right back in here. It was very competitive today at all levels, and it was very pleasant to have a million-dollar horse, which we didn't have last year on Thursday.
Said Russell of Heat Lightning's position in the sale after most of the top-end horses had been sold: "That's the make-up of a November sale. You can get these great big updates after you go to press (with the catalogue). But with everybody here or having a representative within a hundred miles of here bidding, it's not going to be a problem.
The auction continues through Nov. 18. Leading Weanling Sires, Buyers, and Consignors