Catherine Parke of Valkyre Stud wasn’t thinking about an exotic vacation or buying a new car after selling a Bernardini filly for $1.2 million during the third session of the Keeneland September yearling auction in Lexington. Instead she was thinking about taking care of the basics with her proceeds from the sale.
“I’m not going to do anything crazy,” Parke said Sept. 13 after Benjamin Leon's Besilu Stables bought the dark bay or brown filly. “I’ll be very careful and buy another mare and make my farm payments. I’ll be able keep all my staff and keep doing what I love to do. It’s nice to know it’s going to be okay for a while.”
Parke is a small breeder who owns three mares on her own and four in partnership. Her farm, where she boards horses for clients, is located near Georgetown, Ky.
In 2008, Parke purchased the Bernardini filly’s dam, the winning Smart Strike mare Silk n’ Sapphire, for $40,000 from Greenfield Farm, agent, at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Silk n’ Sapphire was in foal to Pleasant Tap at the time, and last year, Parke sold the resulting offspring, Colonial Flag, for $475,000 at Keeneland in September.
Parke liked Silk n’ Sapphire’s pedigree and conformation. But she did her homework before she acquired the mare, whose winning first foal, Mark of Success, had finished second in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. III). Parke discovered that bloodstock agent Bob Feld had bought a $170,000 Pleasantly Perfect filly out of Silk n’ Sapphire for Sagamore Farm during the 2007 Keeneland September sale. By calling Feld, Parke learned that her friend, Graham Motion, was training the filly, which was named Shared Account.
When Parke contacted Motion, she said the trainer told her, ‘I really like the filly (Shared Account) and she’s going to run tomorrow at Laurel.”
The day after Parke purchased Silk n' Sapphire, Shared Account won her first career race by 1 1/2 lengths. When Shared Account captured the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) last year, “I absolutely couldn’t breathe,” Parke said.
Parke and Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation, which stands Bernadini in Kentucky, bred the stallion’s $1 million daughter. Parke said she sent Silk n’ Sapphire to Bernardini “because it was a great cross physically. I loved the way he was built and his race record; it just made sense.”
And Parke couldn’t have been happier with the foal she got from the mating.
“The filly just had it all,” she said. “She was so big and beautiful, and she was so classy. She’s been good ever since she was born. She grew all in proportion and stayed lovely; she was just extra special.”
Parke sold the filly without a reserve and didn’t let her expectations get too high.
“People asked me how much she would bring and I really didn’t know; I didn’t, honestly,” Parke said. “I was just hoping I got a certain figure that the bank needed to have. It wasn’t a real big figure, but that was what I was concerned about.”
The strapping yearling ended up bringing more than enough money to take care of that expense and others as well.
“I won’t have to worry about if I can pay my stud fees for next year,” Parke said.