Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale.

Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale.

Keeneland Photo

Depth Fuels Keeneland April Gains

Unbridled's Song filly, half to grade I winner Eden's Moon, tops sale at $700,000.

A strong middle market helped pace the 2013 Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale to solid gains in both average and median April 8 in Lexington.

The top of this year's sale was similar to last year, with the same $700,000 top price and three juveniles reaching or surpassing half-a-million dollars. But a strong middle market helped average jump 19.34% to $197,288 vs. $165,322 a year ago and median surge 25% to $150,000 ($120,000 last year). Like last year, 59 horses sold but total sales this year were up 19.34% to $11.64 million from 2012's $9.75 million.

Keeneland vice president of sales Walt Robertson credited strong interest throughout the sale for the increased numbers.

"By the time we got to the breeze show, we knew we had a lot of nice horses," Robertson said. "By the time today got here, there wasn't much surprise. Good horses, good buyers; we knew that going in."

Robertson noted that the auction saw a lot of horses sell in the $250,000 to $400,000 range.

"We had a significant number of those horses," Robertson said. "They worked well and looked the part."

A daughter of Unbridled's Song brought the highest price when she fetched $700,000 from Irish bloodstock agent John McCormack. Consigned by Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables as Hip No. 51, she is a half sister to Eden's Moon, who captured the 2012 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I). Eden's Moon most recently fetched $1.525 million at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November breeding stock sale.

McCormack said he bought the Unbridled's Song filly on behalf of an undisclosed client.

Bred in Kentucky by Bryant Prentice, she is the third foal out of the winning Giant's Causeway  mare Eden's Causeway, who is a half sister to U.S. champion grass horse Paradise Creek, plus grade I-winning millionaire Forbidden Apple. Another half sister, Paradise River, is the dam of English highweight David Junior.

Eden's Causeway's dam, North of Eden (by Northfields), is a half sister to champion grass horse Theatrical and multi-millionaire Taiki Blizzard.

"There's a quite a bit of pedigree here that to me doesn't show up at many of the (other) sales," said McCormack after signing the ticket. "We're here in the backyard of many of the great breeders and owners, so it meshes well together."

Wavertree finished as leading consignor by gross with 19 horses sold for $4,445,000. Dunne said the sale-topper stood out from the start.

"She was a wonderful filly; from day one we knew she'd be a special offering," Dunne said. "She's out of a grade I (producing) filly by a super stallion. You just don't see them in this marketplace. Then when she backed it up on the racetrack, it was likely she was going to make a name for herself in the ring."

The Unbridled's Song filly was previously consigned to the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale, but her reserve was not met when the bidding stopped at $245,000. Her dam, Eden's Causeway, delivered a Mineshaft colt Feb. 1.

The next two highest prices at the sale were for colts. They included a son of Arch landed by Steven W. Young, agent, for $535,000, and a son of Bernardini  purchased by Mike Repole and Todd Pletcher. Of any stallion with at least two horses sold, Bernardini finished as the leading sire by average price with three sold for an average of $426,667.

Robertson said the 26.25% RNA rate, down 41.67% from last year's 37.89% rate, is a strong number that helped key the sale's success. The sale saw 59 horses sell and 21 RNAs.

"In the 2-year-old world for as long as I can remember, those are strong numbers," Robertson said. "These are very good numbers. We'd grown to accept 30%. I couldn't be happier."

Dennis O'Neill, who often buys for owners who race for his brother, trainer Doug O'Neill, said about halfway through the sale that he was seeing increased interest. He finished as the under-bidder on several horses.

"I think it's been a good sale," O'Neill said. "I haven't talked to any consignors but the horses seem to be going for a little more than I was willing to spend."

The sale's fastest workers brought respectable if not top sale prices. Seth Klarman's Klaravich Stables purchased a colt by freshman stallion Thewayyouare for $120,000. Consigned by Ocala-based Eddie Woods, agent, the colt (Hip No. 1) worked a quarter mile in :21 flat on the Keeneland Polytrack at the April 4 preview show.

The preview show's fastest furlong worker was a Dixie Union filly named Dixie Blossom who completed the distance in :9 4/5. Consigned by Ocala-based Niall Brennan Stables, the filly (Hip No. 78) was purchased for $300,000 by Marc Keller.

The leading freshman stallion at the sale, by gross, was grade I winner and classic-placed Pioneerof the Nile , who saw four horses sell for an average of $206,250.

Esther Marr contributed to this story.