A Malibu Moon three-quarter brother to grade I winner and leading sire Tapit was the breakout horse at Keeneland's April sale of selected 2-year-olds in training April 7, selling for $1 million.
The partnership of Gainesway, Greg Goodman's Mt. Brilliant Farm and Robert LaPenta bought the colt out of stakes winner Tap Your Heels, by Unbridled.
Gainesway president Antony Beck handled the bidding and signed the ticket on the regally bred, sale-topping colt, the first seven-figure horse to sell at the April sale since 2009. Beck indicated that Chad Brown will train the colt.
"It's very seldom you ever get to have a horse like Tapit on your farm," Beck said of the 13-year-old son of Pulpit who stands at the Lexington farm. "So when a brother comes along with a lot of ability, you really want to try and own a horse like that if you can. He moved over the ground really easily, just skipped along effortlessly. Hopefully, he'll win some stakes for us."
Consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, agent, the chestnut colt breezed an eighth of a mile in a smart :09 4/5 at the under tack preview April 3.
"He's a Saturday horse," Brennan told Beck.
Brennan said the colt (Hip. No. 55) touted himself all along.
"There are only a certain number of horses presented at the 2-year-old sales each year with a pedigree like this horse," Brennan said prior to the sale of the chestnut colt who was bred in Kentucky by Barouche Stud (Ireland). "His work was just as spectacular as he is. He's a picture of balance and agility on the racetrack. He does things so easily just like the really good horses do, and he presents himself well on the end of the shank."
Tapit currently sits atop the general sire list. Among his leading runners this season are Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) contenders Constitution, the undefeated winner of the Besilu Florida Derby (gr. I), and Tapiture, winner of the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) and runner-up in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II).
Tapit is also the sire of early Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) favorite Untapable, winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) in her most recent outing.
The second-highest price horse of the sale was Hip No. 61, a Medaglia d'Oro colt who sold to LaPenta's Whitehorse Stables for $770,000. John Panagot, LaPenta's racing manager, signed the ticket for the bay colt out of the grade I winner Victory Ride, by Seeking the Gold.
Consigned by Eddie Woods, agent, the colt, which like the sale topper, will be conditioned by Brown, drilled a bullet quarter-mile in :20 at the under-tack preview.
"His breeze was super," said Panagot. "Eddie doesn't crank on them, which made the work even more impressive. His breeze matched his pedigree. His mom could fly. He's a great physical. You just can't knock the horse."
Bred in Kentucky by G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and Louise Ireland Humphrey Revocable Trust, the colt was purchased for $140,000 by Bradley Thoroughbreds out of the Lane's End consignment at last year's Keeneland September sale.
The top-priced filly of the sale was Hip No. 11, a daughter of More Than Ready who sold to Three Chimneys Farm, agent, for $400,000. Consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, the full sister to 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. II) winner More Than Real is out of the multiple stakes-winning Dehere mare Miss Seffens.
Bred in Kentucky by Santucket Stables, the filly breezed a furlong in :09 3/5 at the under tack preview.
With 70 outs, 53 of them prior to the breeze show on April 3, the catalog of 125 head suffered a substantial hit by sale time. All told, 38 head changed hands, down 35.6% from 59 juveniles sold last year. In turn, gross sales dropped 24.7% to $8,769,000 from $11,640,000 a year ago.
Average price escalated nearly 17% to $230,763 from $197,288 in 2013, and median price increased 33.3% to $200,000 from $150,000 last year. Seventeen horses failed to meet their reserves, accounting for a buy-back percentage of 30.9%; buy-backs came in at 26.3% last year.
"We sold the first horse for a million dollars in many a year, and the second-highest price was higher than last year's," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "We had a disappointing number of outs, but, unfortunately, we don't have control of that.
"I think that the horses that went through the ring sold very well," he added. "We were very pleased with the group of buyers that were here for what was on offer, especially the number of trainers who were here."
While encouraged by results at the top end of the sale, Russell expressed disappointment in the few number of horses ultimately offered in the ring.
"I think we proved yet again that we are able to recruit a group of buyers to come to this sale and give top money for horses," Russell said. "The overall view is we sent buyers home without horses, and that's not a good thing. We want buyers to go home with horses and consignors to go home with money.
"We make an effort to recruit internationally and domestically, so when buyers see 53 outs before the gallop show it's hard on buyers, and some buyers probably don't want to come in for it. We would like a much larger catalog, but the foal crop is down, the number of 2-year-olds being sold is down. For most 2-year-old consignors, we are an out-of-state sale, and these factors have to get factored in."
Niall Brennan led all other consignors, selling six juveniles for $2,360,000. Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables was next with 10 horses sold for $2,100,000.
Gainesway, Mt. Brilliant Farm and LaPenta led all buyers with the purchase of the $1 million sale topper.