Spice Island, a grade II-winning daughter of Tabasco Cat, became the sale topper thus far at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale when she fetched $775,000 from Hunter Valley Farm, agent.
Fergus Galvin and Adrian Regan of Hunter Valley bought the mare on behalf of an undisclosed client. In foal to Tapit , she was consigned by Bluewater Sales, agent, as Hip No. 153.
“She’s has a lovely physical and ticked all the boxes,” said Galvin of Spice Island. “She’s in foal to the right sire and is the dam of a grade I winner; she’s everything you want.”
Spice Island is best known as the dam of Ice Box (by Pulpit ), winner of the 2010 Florida Derby (gr. I) and runner-up in that year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). It was recently announced that Ice Box had been retired from racing and would stand at Calumet Farm this year.
Galvin and Regan indicated Spice Island would be boarded at Hunter Valley near Versailles, Ky. Whether she would be bred for sale or racing purposes is yet to be determined. “We’ll get her home and see what her baby is like, and then we’ll make a decision later on,” said Galvin.
Regan said while there are still several bargain mares available in the market, Spice Island’s high price was expected.
“We thought she’d be valued at under $1 million and we were happy to get her at that price,” he said. “She sold for where we had her valued.”
During her race career, Spice Island scored her big win in the 2003 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIT). She retired from racing with a record of 7-8-3 from 28 starts, for earnings of $487,376.
Spice Island was produced from the Alysheba mare Crown of Sheba, who is a half sister to Horse of the Year and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Spend a Buck (by Buckaroo).
Meg Levy of Bluewater Sales said she was satisfied with the price Spice Island brought.
“The stars aligned with her being in foal to Tapit and Ice Box going to stud,” she said. “(Spice Island) is a quality mare and people still want quality, so I think she shined in this catalog. It was a good price for her; we’re happy with it.
“She was the first one to go through the ring that was at that kind of level,” Levy continued. "We had 45-50 showings a day on her, which was really good. We had a daughter of hers in the barn as well so people could see what she throws. She’s just a nice mare and looked really good in this catalog.”