Variety of Sales Histories for Derby Field
by Frank Angst
Date Posted: 5/1/2013 4:40:16 PM
Last Updated: 5/11/2013 6:19:14 PM

Normandy Invasion sold for $230,000 at 2.
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Photo: Chad Harmon

After looking at some 200 horses at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale, Willis Horton just kept coming back to Will Take Charge as his must-have horse.

Nearly on a whim, Dennis O'Neill decided to attend last year's Ocala Breeders' Sales Company June 2-year-olds and horses of racing age sale. But an eye-catching workout and steady encouragement from a friend would convince him to go a bit over budget to land Goldencents, still a bargain at $62,000.

Will Take Charge and Goldencents are at the opposite ends of this year's sales histories for horses entered in the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

Horton, of course, was already familiar with the accomplishments of three-time grade I winner Take Charge Lady, the dam of Will Take Charge and 2012 Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Take Charge Indy  . Seeing Will Take Charge as a yearling at Keeneland thrilled the retired homebuilder from Arkansas.

"He was a tremendous horse, good looking animal," Horton said. "His conformation was perfect. Everything about him just caught my eye. I probably looked at 200 horses but I just kept coming back to him."

Horton went to $425,000 to land Will Take Charge, making him the highest-priced yearling in this year's Derby. While certainly a good chunk of change, Will Take Charge did not rank in the top 10 of highest-priced yearlings at Keeneland September in 2011. The average price of the dozen horses sold as yearlings at public auction who will enter this year's Derby is $152,700.

When the initial bidding began on Will Take Charge, D. Wayne Lukas also was bidding. The Racing Hall of Fame conditioner, who would become Will Take Charge's trainer, said he had Will Take Charge rated highly and didn't realize Horton also was bidding.

"After he signed the ticket, I went over to him and said 'In my opinion you just bought the best horse in the sale,'" Lukas said.

Horton went into the sale looking for classic-type Thoroughbreds.

"The pedigree of this horse is tremendous and Take Charge Lady was part of that pedigree I really liked," Horton said. "She won at long distance races. And (sire) Unbridled's Song, who was not a mile-and-a-half horse, was surely a mile-and-an-eighth horse. So combine them together and we should have that 1 1/4 miles and 1 1/2 miles. That's the kind of horse I'm looking for."

Lukas said Will Take Charge is a big horse with scope similar to his Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Timber Country. Lukas loved Will Take Charge's conformation as a yearling and noted his looks have only improved.

"It made my knees buckle, my stomach turned over," said Lukas of seeing Will Take Charge at the sale. "He wins the post parade hands down. The horse show part is a slam dunk."

Will Take Charge is tied for the highest price with any horse purchased at public auction in this year's Derby. Falling Sky was purchased for $425,000 by Justin Casse, agent, as a 3-year-old at this year's Ocala Breeders Sales Co.'s winter mixed sale.

While Horton was going the traditional yearling sale route, Goldencents caught O'Neill's eye at a late-season 2-year-olds in training sale. A strong workout convinced O'Neill to budget $50,000 for the colt from the first crop of Into Mischief  . When that price was passed, urging from Jack Sisterson, an assistant to O'Neill's brother, trainer Doug O'Neill, convinced Dennis to stay the course to land Goldencents for $62,000.

"I just wanted to go down there and then boom, there he was; out of nowhere," O'Neill said of seeing Goldencents breeze. "He breezed fast and it didn't look like he was going fast. He went :21 1/5, it was really fast."

O'Neill suspects more buyers would have been on Goldencents, who is out of the Banker's Gold mare Golden Works, if he had been in the regular catalog. Instead, Goldencents was a late addition to the sale.

Still, there was enough interest that O'Neill's initial budget of $50,000 didn't pan out. As the bidding passed that amount, O'Neill, who did not have a specific buyer in mind for Goldencents, nudged higher to $55,000 when the hammer fell. But because of some confusion, bidding was reopened.

At that point, O'Neill started to get up to leave but was encouraged by Sisterson to stay the course. He landed the colt for $62,000.

"Jack Sisterson was a huge part in getting this horse," O'Neill said. After buying the horse, O'Neill called up Glenn Sorgenstein and Joshua Kaplan, who became the initial owners.

Goldencents is the least expensive horse entered in the Derby purchased at a 2-year-old sale.

Goldencents also posted the smallest price of any Derby starter as a yearling and overall, when he was bought for just $5,500 by Webb Carroll, agent, at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall sale.

"We watched that sale on YouTube the other day and they had a hell of a time getting up to $5,500," O'Neill said. "I mean it was stuck at like $3,000 for the longest time. But even then he looked nice in the ring; I mean he looked really, really gooda great looking horse."

O'Neill, who also purchased 2012 Santa Anita Derby-Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner I'll Have Another  , said the days of finding bargain foals by Into Mischief may have ended.

"It's funny because there was a really nice Into Mischief I fell in love with last week down at Ocala," O'Neill said. "I went down to get him and they ended up buying him back for $240,000. It's amazing how a year changes things. That horse goes for $50,000 or $60,000 last year but now Into Mischief's like the hot sire. And I can't afford him anymore."

Sale Histories of 2013 Kentucky Derby Field
Horse Price Sale
Sold as weanlings (2010)
^Falling Sky
$16,000
Keeneland November breeding stock sale
*Frac Daddy 
$20,000
Keeneland November breeding stock sale
Sold as yearlings (2011)
Black Onyx 
$125,000
Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale
Frac Daddy
$50,000
Keeneland September yearling sale
#Goldencents
$5,500

Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale

#Itsmyluckyday 
$47,000
Keeneland September yearling sale
Mylute
$150,000
Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale
Overanalyze 
$380,000
Keeneland September yearling sale
Oxbow
$250,000
Keeneland September yearling sale
#Palace Malice
$25,000
Keeneland September yearling sale
#Revolutionary
$80,000
Keeneland September yearling sale
Verrazano 
$250,000
Keeneland September yearling sale
#Vyjack 
$45,000
Fasig-Tipton Kentucky
Will Take Charge 
$425,000
Keeneland September yearling sale
Sold as 2-year-olds (2012)
Goldencents 
$62,000
OBSC June 2-year-olds and horses of racing age sale
Itsmyluckyday 
$110,000
OBSC March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training sale
Normandy Invasion 
$230,000
Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale
Palace Malice 
$200,000
Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale
Revolutionary 
$235,000
OBSC March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training sale
Vyjack 
$100,000
Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale
Sold as 3-year-olds (2013)
Falling Sky 
$425,000
Ocala Breeders Sales Co. winter mixed sale
# also sold as 2-year-old
* also sold as yearling
^ also sold as 3-year-old


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