Betty Mabee of Golden Eagle Farm was one of the most active buyers Monday as the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale opened in Lexington. Through Rick Trontz of Hopewell Farm, she spent 950,000 for three mares and one broodmare prospect during the auction's first few hours. Mabee's highest-priced purchases were the $350,000 Heaven to Earth (in foal to Mr. Greeley) and the $320,000 Cee's Elegance, a graded winner and broodmare prospect.
"She's trying to upgrade and add some new blood to her broodmare band," Trontz said. "She'll have a commercial operation. She'll sell some, and she'll keep some to race. It will depend on the individual foal."
Following the death of her husband, John, in 2002, Mrs. Mabee said she would stay in the business, but would be reducing the number of horses she owned. Her January participation is her first significant purchasing effort since her husband died.
Trontz said Mrs. Mabee would have made a big effort to buy mares at last year's Keeneland November breeding stock sale, but "the fires in Southern California put a crimp in her plans." A division of Golden Eagle suffered some fire damage.
"She's still in the business, and she's going to stay in the business," said Trontz, who boards approximately 20 of Mrs. Mabee's mares at his Hopewell Farm in Kentucky.