Havre de Grace, the champion older mare of 2011, brought some major fireworks to the Fasig-Tipton November sale when she commanded a final bid of $10 million from Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm.
Hailing from the only crop by the ill fated 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, 5-year-old Havre de Grace was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent as Hip No. 76 for Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm, which raced the mare throughout a stellar career in which she earned $2,586,175.
"She was absolutely gorgeous—there's nothing more to say...she's beautiful," said an emotional Pope after signing the ticket for the champion mare. "You look at her and she's everything a racehorse should be, and she has a wonderful attitude...she's the epitome of what we're all trying to breed as far as conformation and racing ability. Hopefully she'll pass that on to her foals."
On the track, Havre de Grace won the 2011 Beldame Invitational, Apple Blossom, and Woodward Stakes (all gr. I), plus two other graded stakes en route to earning her Horse of the Year title. In her final start, she won the March 17 New Orleans Ladies Stakes in commanding fashion. Trained by Larry Jones, she ended her career with a record of 9-4-2 from 16 starts.
Nancy S. Dillman bred the strapping bay mare in Kentucky from Easter Bunnette, a winning daughter of Carson City. Easter Bunnette is out of the graded stakes-placed Topsider mare Toll Fee, who is the granddam of multiple grade I winning millionaire Riskaverse (by Dynaformer). Easter Bunnette is also from the family of champion sprinter Plugged Nickle, grade I victor Christiecat, and graded stakes producer Key to the Bridge.
"It's always hard (to sell) when you have a horse like (Havre de Grace) that you spend so much time watching perform the way she did," said Porter, who originally acquired Havre de Grace for $380,000 through Tom McGreevy, agent at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale from Mill Ridge Sales, agent.
"It was hard when I went to say goodbye to her today," Porter continued. "But it was exciting to see her bring what she deserved because she's got the whole package. I'm really glad Mandy ended up buying her; I think she loves the horse as much as we do. We set a very reasonable reserve and I was very surprised she would bring this much, but I think she deserves it. She's got an amazing talent, amazing beauty, amazing grace, and an amazing pedigree."
Added Mark Taylor of Taylor Made Sales: "She's probably the best racemare we ever sold and arguably the best mare I've ever seen, and she had an impeccable pedigree. It just goes to show that when you bring a collector's item in there, it's going to bring a ton of money. I try to keep myself grounded, and I like to undersell and over deliver, so I wasn't thinking (she would bring) $10 million.
"I'm really glad she's staying here in the United States so we can all still see her," Taylor continued of the mare, who will be boarded at a Kentucky farm according to Pope. "We worked hard, but anybody could have sold Havre de Grace. She is beyond anything anybody can imagine being around...you touch her and just feel different. She's an amazing horse."