Included in the record number of horses cataloged for the Keeneland November sale are 2,323 weanlings -- young horses that were born earlier this year.
While it would be unrealistic and a daunting challenge for a buyer to try to get a look at all of the 2007 foals that will go through the sale ring, there is one group that will get more scrutiny than the others. After all, the fall mixed sales provide the first glimpse for most industry professionals at the progeny from the first crops of stallions that entered stud the previous year.
And this year is no exception when it comes to some top racehorses who will have their first crops offered for sale at Keeneland. The anticipation level generally corresponds to the accomplishments of the stallion while on the track, and the attendant stud fee upon retirement. In other words, the better racehorses command the highest fees and therefore their first foals generate greater interest.
This means many breeders will be looking closely at the first foals sired by 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, whose inaugural stud fee of $200,000 when this crop was conceived was the highest beginning fee for any North American sire since Devil’s Bag in 1985. After Ghostzapper serviced 111 mares in his first season at Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs Farm, his fee was reduced to $150,000 for 2007.
Another Horse of the Year with his first, and in this case only, crop to sell at auction is Saint Liam, the 2005 champion who retired to Lane’s End Farm. After servicing 126 mares during the 2006 breeding season, Saint Liam died in a paddock accident.
This sale also offers the first crop sired by 2005 champion 3-year-old colt and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Afleet Alex, who entered stud at Gainesway Farm in 2006 for a stud fee of $40,000.
Two North American grass champions will also have their first foals offered at Keeneland. Leroidesanimaux, a Brazilian import who received an Eclipse Award as 2005 champion grass horse, stood at Stonewall Farm Stallions for $25,000 during his first season, and at that same amount this year. Kitten’s Joy, the 2004 turf champion, entered stud at Ramsey Farm in 2006 for a $25,000 fee.
Among other top racehorses with first-crop weanlings at Keeneland are: Rock Hard Ten, the multiple grade I winner who stood for a 2006 fee of $50,000 at Lane’s End Farm; grade I winner and Roman Ruler, who stood for $30,000 during his first season at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm; and Pimlico Special (gr. I) winner Eddington, who stood at Claiborne Farm for an initial fee of $20,000.