A regally-bred Smart Strike colt sparked a flurry of bids that boosted his price to $400,000 and made him the most expensive horse sold so far during the opening session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March select sale of 2-year-olds in training. Donato Lanni, the bloodstock services director of Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms, bought the colt for Kaleem Shah March 16 in Central Florida after fighting off trainer Barclay Tagg and Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan, whose clients include wine mogul Jess Jackson.
The first session had just passed its halfway point when the bay juvenile colt was offered.
“This horse has a lot of class, and he’s got a great disposition,” Lanni said. “He carried himself well, and he obviously worked well. He’s a well-bred horse, and he’s got a stallion’s pedigree. The price was fair; it’s what we thought he was going to bring.”
Lanni said the colt reminded him a lot of champion and grade I winner Lookin At Lucky , who is a top prospect for this year’s Triple Crown and also is a son of Smart Strike. Lanni said he helped Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert find Lookin At Lucky for Mike Pregram, who purchased the colt for $475,000 from the Jerry Bailey Sales Agency, agent, at last year’s Keeneland April juvenile auction. Baffert conditions Lookin At Lucky for a partnership involving Pegram and also will get the $400,000 Smart Strike colt to train, according to Lanni.
“This colt is like ‘Lucky’ because of his demeanor and his attitude,” Lanni said. “He’s a really laid-back horse, and he’s real classy. I hope Bob likes him.”
Produced from the 16-year-old winning Dixieland Band mare Dixie Holiday, the colt is a half-brother to Holiday Runner (by Meadowlake), who scored in the Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Fashion Stakes at Belmont Park in 2002. Holiday Runner is the dam of Seventh Street (by Street Cry), who captured the Apple Blossom (gr. I) and Go for Wand (gr. I) Handicaps at Oaklawn Park and Saratoga, respectively, in 2009.
Niall Brennan Stables consigned the colt for his breeder, Peter Blum.
“We’re very happy to sell him for that; I valued him in the $350,000 to $500,000 range, but you’re never sure,” Niall Brennan said. “Obviously, the buyers were there and wanted him, but I think it was a very good buy. This horse had all the pedigree, and he’s just very impressive on the racetrack. He’s really a performer. Everything about him is exceptional – his professionalism, his demeanor, and his balance. He’s not an overly big horse on the shank, but he’s a big horse on the racetrack.”
The colt breezed an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5, sharing the fastest time for the distance with four other juveniles during the first session of the auction’s under tack show.