Keeneland January Registers Strong Second Day

Keeneland January Registers Strong Second Day
Photo: Keeneland Photo
Hip #517, Street Sense filly, brought $1.45 million at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale.

by Frank Angst and Esther Marr

The second-highest-priced yearling to ever sell at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale and an apparently deep group of horses at the start of Fares Farm's dispersal helped the Lexington sale stay strong through day two Jan. 8.

Hurstland Farm's Alfred Nuckols took several moments to gather his thoughts after Regis Farms purchased his Street Sense   filly for $1.45 million. The half sister to group I winner Certify and grade I winner Cry and Catch Me is the second-highest-priced newly turned yearling ever sold at Keeneland January and the highest price out of the two-day Book One catalog.

Meanwhile, the beginning of the 79-horse Fares Farm dispersal provided depth on day two. The dispersal, consigned by Lane's End as agent, saw 29 horses reach six-figure prices including 10 that reached or surpassed $200,000. Horses from the dispersal also will be offered on Jan. 9 and 10.

It all added up to a strong second day, as average was up 38.63% to $80,700 and total sales were up 23.67% to $20,013,700 compared with the second day of the 2012 sale. For the first two days, 449 horses have sold for a total of $35,345,100, up 17.37%. Average is up 27.3% to $78,720 and median is up 16.67% to $35,000. The buyback rate also rose 17.42% to 25.66%.

"Talking about the top, it was great," said Keeneland vice president of sales Walt Robertson, adding that the dispersal may have generated interest in the sale overall. "I think that that always helps. When you bring in a quality group, you bring in buyers and other horses. It all works. It definitely brings in buyers and other horses, which I think we saw today."

After landing the first day's highest-priced newly turned yearling, Nat Rea of Regis Farm, a new player at the top level, showed another gear on the sale's second day when he purchased the Street Sense yearling for $1.45 million. According to Keeneland statistics, she is behind only the filly Inkling (Seeking the GoldNumber), who brought $3.4 million from Demi O'Byrne in 1998 on the sale's list of highest-priced new yearlings. The sale's top price for a yearling colt is $1.15 million, which was paid for Videographic (Mr. Prospector—Video) who also sold in 1998.

"I thought coming up here she was a $300,000 to $350,000 filly," Nuckols said. "But when we had her up here, everybody was interested, and we started to hear from a lot of people telling us what a lovely filly she was. The word was going around the sales grounds. I've had the whole family for four generations and she's probably the nicest filly to come along so far."

In between receiving congratulations from friends, Nuckols said that of his own horses, it's the highest price one has ever reached. "And I didn't think I'd see this today," Nuckols said. "I thought if things went really well I might get $600,000 or $700,000 but I never thought she'd double it...this is the best."

While the Street Sense yearling proved to be the highest-priced horse from the sale's first book, day two again saw strong interest in young mares and broodmare prospects. A pair of half sisters offered by the late Barbara Hunter's Brownwood Farm operation, Keertana and Snow Top Mountain, garnered $1.95 million between the two of them.

Keertana, a dark bay or brown 7-year-old daughter of Johar  , sold for $1 million; while Snow Top Mountain, a gray or roan 6-year-old daughter of Najran, went for $950,000.

Tony Lacy, bloodstock manager for Brownwood and consignor for Four Star Sales, agent, said the half sisters have similar personalities.

"In looks, they're not really that similar," Lacy said. "The mare (Motokiks, by Storm Cat) throws the foals very much like the sire. Keertana is a big, scopy, rangy mare. Snow Top is more compact, a little more agile. So physically, they're not very much the same.

"But personality-wise, they are very similar. They're both very professional, very focused. When they're given a job, they just want to go do it."

Craig Bandoroff signed the ticket on Keertana but did not want to reveal his domestic buyer, noting that the buyer has been buying mares at the top of the market.

"(Keertana) is big; she's pretty," Bandoroff said. "It's not a strong, strong family, but she can run; her sister can run. She ticked two of the three boxes. Hopefully she'll throw it all."

Audley Farm, breeder of grade I winner and Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Bodemeister  , landed Snow Top Mountain for $950,000.

Veterinarian Jens von Lepel of Audley said Snow Top Mountain will be a fine addition at the Berryville, Va., farm. Bodemeister's dam, Untouched Talent, sold for $5 million at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale.

"(Snow Top Mountain) is a very nice mare, very well bred, great racing performance, and good conformation," von Lepel said. "That's all that you look for. She's quality all over."

Lacy acknowledged that it was a bittersweet day for everyone close to Hunter's breeding and racing operation.

"It's never really been a family that's been sold. It's an heirloom of Barbara's," Lacy said. "It's a credit to Barbara and her legacy. I'm very proud for her."

The highest-priced horse from the Fares dispersal was stakes-winning mare Supreme, who was purchased for $800,000 by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings. The 6-year-old Empire Maker filly is believed to be in foal to Giant's Causeway  .

"She's a beautiful mare, a really, really pretty mare," said Stonestreet bloodstock adviser John Moynihan of Supreme, who is out of the Maria's Mon mare Mon Belle, a full sister to Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos  . "We thought she'd be a nice addition to our broodmare band. We bought the yearling in September. He looks to be one of our nicer yearlings, now a 2-year-old."

It is not the first time Stonestreet has shown interest in the family. At the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale, Stonestreet paid $900,000 to land a Smart Strike   colt out of Mon Belle.

Adam Corndorf of Bonnie Baskin's Blue Heaven Farm, which landed stakes winning broodmare Oregon Lady, in foal to Elusive Quality  , for $475,000, said buyers had to pay for quality young mares and broodmare prospects.

"For the good mares it's very strong," Corndorf said. "It drops off a bit from there but for the good mares that are standouts it seems like the competition is really, really tough. We feel fortunate to get her."

Von Lepel added that many buyers saw potential in the same mares.

"It's very hard to find quality mares," von Lepel said. "There aren't that many, and everybody's looking for that quality."

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