Sweet Talker kicked up a lot of excitement in October at Keeneland when she took the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. IT) in a three-horse photo finish. She was back at Keeneland making news again Wednesday, when she sold for $1,150,000 to Don Adam's Courtlandt Farm and topped the third session of the November breeding stock sale.
The 3-year-old daughter of Stormin Fever
was the only horse to bring a seven-figure price Wednesday. In all, 261 horses were sold for a gross of $42,564,000, an average of $163,080, and a median of $120,000. Compared to the comparable session a year ago, when 267 horses were sold, the gross rose 6.2% from $40,070,000; the average increased 8.7% from $150,075, and the median grew 20% from $100,000. The buy-back rate advanced from 21% last year to 22.1% this year.
"It was very strong and very consistent all the way through," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "Last year, we had a $3.9 million horse that we didn't have this year in this session and we still outgrossed it. The median was considerably higher, which is the most positive indicator we have of the strength of this market, and we hope it continues on tomorrow."
The sale's cumulative figures for the first three sessions were 633 horses sold, a gross of $200,002,000, average of $315,959, and median of $200,000. The gross was down slightly, 1.2%, from last year's total through the third session of $202,533,500 for the 691 horses sold. But the average was up 7.8% from $293,102, and the median was up a whopping 33.3% from $150,000. The buyback rate rose from 19.5% in 2004 to 23.7% this year.
"We will give Sweet Talker another year or two of racing, hopefully," said Courtlandt farm manager Ernie Retamoza Jr., who signed the sale ticket for the session-topping filly. "We already raced Film Maker, who won the (2003) Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup, and this filly did the same. We figure that she'll be nice addition to our racing program. These grade I winners, they're not available all the time, so we decided to take a shot."
Produced from the Stalwart mare Another Vegetarian, who is a half-sister to stakes winner Tiffany Diamond, Sweet Talker has captured seven of her 13 career races and earned $682,723. In addition to the Queen Elizabeth, she has scored in the Martha Washington Breeders' Cup Stakes at Laurel and the Edgewood Stakes and Caressing Handicap at Churchill Downs. She defeated Karen's Caper by a nose in the Queen Elizabeth, with Gorella finishing a head farther back in third.
"Sweet Talker will go to our farm in Florida, and get about a month's break, and then we'll send her to Graham Motion (who saddled Film Maker for her Queen Elizabeth victory) when he heads south to Miami for the winter," Retamoza said. "She looks like a relatively sound filly. She's not a very big filly, but we felt all the parts were there, and obviously she's shown determination. I think she's as tough a filly as I've ever seen run. Going to Graham Motion, I feel like we are going to continue on with her and be successful."
William S. Farish's Lane's End consigned Sweet Talker for Lisa and Elia Kahn.
"That was good," said Lane's End's Bill Farish. "I thought she would bring in the $ 1 million to $1.3 million, $1.4 million range. I think it was a really solid sale, but I don't think it was off the charts."
Eliah Kahn purchased Sweet Talker privately for $115,000 after she was bought back for that amount at the 2004 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March sale of 2-year-olds in training. Her consignor then was Gabriel Dixon, agent.
"They've got a great racehorse, and they're going to have a lot of fun with her," Kahn said.
Asked why he decided to sell Sweet Talker, Kahn replied: "It's hard not to. She had won a grade I, and she was already entered into the November sale. The market was so strong. We watched the market on Monday to try to get a gauge, and we thought it was the right thing to do. It's one of those things where you try to sell at the peak and move on, and we did.
"I thought she could have brought a little more," Kahn continued, "but I'm pretty much a realistic person, I think we set the reserve at a marketable level. We've already invested our money back in the horse business. We've been doing that forever. Kenny (McPeek, who trained Sweet Talker before going into the bloodstock agent business and turning her over to assistant Helen Pitts) has picked me out three very nice yearlings this year, and we've got them down training in Ocala (Florida). We also still own Suchaprettygirl, who is Sweet Talker's (2-year-old) half-sister, and she should be ready to run again the end of December or early January."
The top-priced weanling and the second-highest-priced horse sold Wednesday was a $600,000 son of Elusive Quality
out of the 6-year-old unraced Boston Harbor mare Mermaid's Tale. The mare is a half-sister to grade III winner Goldseeker Bud and to added-money winner Ashboro. Ken Luke's Eldon Equine purchased the colt from Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent. Fred W. Hertrich III bred the weanling in Kentucky.
The price "was pretty close" to her limit, said Eldon adviser Debbie Easter. "This colt has lovely hind end and hip," she continued. "He's 'scopey,' and he's got pedigree. He's quality."
Asked whether Luke would race or resell the colt next year as a yearling, Easter replied: "I don't think we make those decisions right now. I wouldn't be surprised if we entered him back in a sale. What we're trying to do is to keep on buying quality babies. If we can put them through a sale and they do well, that's great. If we end up having to racing them, that's good, too. It's tough to play in this market, but it's good for the business. We hope that when we go back to the yearling sales it stays like this. It's been very impressive the first few days."
Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Mares purchased the $620,000 colt's dam, Mermaid Tales, for $600,000 from Taylor Made. Leading Weanling Sires, Buyers, and Consignors