Mandy Pope's Whisper HIll Farm set the bar again this year at Fasig-Tipton's November mixed sale, paying a sale-topping $5.2 million Nov. 4 for the Galileo broodmare Betterbetterbetter, a group III winner now in foal to the hot sire War Front.
The bid was far lower than the world-record price she paid for broodmare prospect Havre de Grace at the same auction a year ago, but it emphasized again how healthy the pinnacle of the Thoroughbred market is, five years after a bruising recession that saw foal numbers fall drastically. The number of horses bringing $1 million or more this year was 24, up sharply from 15 last year.
During Monday's auction 129 horses sold for a total of $73,859,000, up 22.6% from last year's gross for 87 horses. Average fell–not a surprise one year after the $10 million world-record broodmare prospect price–17.3%, from $692,184 to $572,550. Importantly, median gained 31.6%, rising from $190,000 last year to $250,000, and the buyback rate fell to 21% from last year's 35%.
Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning called the sale "mind-boggling."
The top-priced weanling was a filly by another highly fashionable sire, Tapit, out of the stakes-winning Mr. Greeley mare Miss Catalyst. The Taylor Made agency sold the Feb. 18 foal to Stonestreet Stables.
Consigned by the Hill 'n' Dale agency, Betterbetterbetter is out of the Darshaan mare Jude and is a three-quarter sister to Irish champions and Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) seconds Yesterday and Quarter Moon; group I-placed All My Loving; and stakes-placed Hold Me Love Me and Magicalmysterytour, all by Galileo's sire, Sadler's Wells.
"A mare by Galileo is obviously something that everyone would love to have, and she was gorgeous," Pope said. "I'm speechless."
"Mandy has made a real effort to move her genetics up," said adviser Wayne Sweezey, at whose Timber Town Farm Pope boards some of her mares, including Havre de Grace. "Tonight we have done that. Mandy has bought some very special mares. Credit goes to her."
Hill 'n' Dale principal John Sikura was all smiles after the hammer fell. "We're just fortunate that we bred the mare to War Front, who's as hot as can be," he said. "Darshaan had a Breeders' Cup winner, and she's by Galileo. It kind of all fit."
Pope spent a total of $9,050,000 for four mares, all but one coming from the Hill 'n' Dale consignment. In addition to Betterbetterbetter, Pope also paid $2 million for Hill 'n' Dale's Rhumb Line, dam of such runners as Zazu and Flashback who is carrying a Tapit full sibling to both of those runners. Whisper Hill's purchases also included the Gainesway agency's $1 million Speed Succeeds, dam of Brilliant Speed and in foal to Street Cry.
The catalog sparked interest among high-level domestic and international buyers, a sign that the world's wealthiest buyers remain aggressively interested in well-bred mares with race records to match.
The night's second-highest price was the hefty $4.9 million that Goncalo Torrealba paid for a mare he bred: two-time grade I winner Love and Pride, now in foal to Distorted Humor. The Torrealba family's Borges Torrealba is a major partner in Three Chimneys Farm and purchased the mare from that farm's consignment.
Three Chimneys consigned 5-year-old Love and Pride on behalf of Dimitrios Katsaros's Green Hills Farm. Green Hills raced the A.P. Indy daughter to a record of seven wins, two seconds, and four thirds from 17 starts.
Torrealba also paid $800,000 for the Bluewater agency's grade II winner Open Water, a racing or broodmare prospect from the family of Flanders and Surfside. He also bought the Darby Dan consignment's Pay Lady, dam of 2013 grade I winner Lighthouse Bay, for $775,000; she was not pregnant.
Four other horses brought $2 million or more Monday night at the select session that kicks off Kentucky's November breeding stock sale season.
Three Chimneys sold recent Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) winner Mizdirection for $2.7 million to Al Shaqab, owned by the Qatari royal family. Bluewater Sales consignee Champagne d'Oro, in foal to Tapit, also brought $2.7 million, this time from Japan's Shadai Farm, which also paid $2.4 million for In Lingerie, carrying a foal by the undefeated English champion Frankel, by Galileo. Bluewater sold In Lingerie on behalf of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber.
The catalog's only other mare in foal to Frankel was Mi Sueno, the grade I-winning daughter of Pupit and Madcap Escapade. Hammered down for $1.9 million, she will head for Japan with buyer Katsumi Yoshida. Bluewater Sales consigned Mi Sueno.
Marie Jones bought the session's other horse to bring $2 million or more, spending $2 million for grade I winner Joyful Victory from Taylor Made's consignment; she was cataloged as a racing or broodmare prospect.
A number of bidders were repeat buyers at the seven-figure level. Australia's Kio-Ora Stud, a commercial breeding operation, paid $1.35 million each for two mares: the Hill 'n' Dale agency's Canadian champion Inglorious, offered as a broodmare prospect, and the Lane's End agency's grade I winner Pure Fun, a racing or broodmare prospect.
Marie Jones also paid $1.2 million for each of two mares from Taylor Made's agency. The first, dual grade II winner Juanita, immediately followed Joyful Victory in the ring and was carrying a Medaglia d'Oro foal. The second, lightly raced Mamma Kimbo, is a grade II winner now pregnant to Bernardini.
The session's other seven-figure horses were:
Champion Awesome Feather, now in foal to Medaglia d'Oro and in the Adena Springs consignment, sold for $1.9 million to Katsumi Yoshida;
Bluewater Sales agency's Careless Jewel was a $1.85 million buy for Summer Wind Farm and was in foal to first-year stallion Bodemeister;
The Bluewater agency's $1.75 million Danceinthesunlight, dam of Travers Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Moreno and carrying a full sibling to that runner, sold to Denali Stud, agent;
The Gainesway agency's Agave Kiss, in foal to Tapit, went to Town and Country Farm for $1.5 million;
Greenwood Lodge's Summer Applause, fresh off a fourth-place finish in Groupie Doll's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I), brought $1.3 million from Stonereath Stud;
Glencrest Farm's Nefertini, consigned by Four Star Sales, sold for $1.25 million to Alpha Delta (Reynolds Bell, agent) while in foal to Tapit;