Hip 630 sold for $405,000 at the Keeneland January Sale.

Hip 630 sold for $405,000 at the Keeneland January Sale.

Coady Photography/Keeneland

Alpha Kitten Hammered Down for $405,000

Spendthrift Farm purchases her on the second day of the Keeneland January sale.

Grade II winner Alpha Kitten made a mid-afternoon appearance in Keeneland’s auction ring and brought $405,000 during the second session of the January horses of all ages sale in Lexington. B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm purchased the 5-year-old daughter of Tale of the Cat , with Spendthrift general manager Ned Toffey signing the sale ticket Jan. 11.

Alpha Kitten was offered as a racing or broodmare prospect, but she will be retired from competition and bred this year, according to Toffey.

“What’s not to like? She’s a very pretty mare with a lot of ability, and she had plenty of pedigree. She was sort of a no-brainer,” Toffey said. “We had set our number going in and we pretty well stuck to it. We weren’t good for a lot more; we were happy to get her for that. We have a couple of horses in mind (to breed her to), but we’ll make that decision after we get her back to the farm.”

Bred and raced by Jerry and Ann Moss of Zenyatta fame and trained by John Sadler, Alpha Kitten won two of her nine career races and earned $227,010. The gray or roan mare captured the 2009 Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) and finished second or third in four other added-money events, including the 2010 editions of the Rancho Bernardo (gr. III) and Las Flores (gr. III) Handicaps. She is out of the Unbridled's Song mare Alpha Mama, who finished third once in three career races and is a full sister to grade I winner Marylebone.

Toffey, who was shopping for young, athletic mares to breed primarily to Spendthrift stallions, described the market at Keeneland in January as “a continuation of what we’ve been seeing here the last several sales. Everybody is getting on the best horses and it’s spotty for everything else,” he said. “Everybody’s filter is getting finer. You’ve got to bring a really good horse out here, and if you do, there’s plenty of money for them.

“I think the horse business is full of optimists,” he continued. “For the good horses, there’s still plenty of money and there’s still plenty of interest. I think there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic.”

Paramount Sales, agent, consigned Alpha Kitten.

“We’re very much delighted with that price,” said Paramount’s Pat Costello. “She is a lovely filly and that’s what the market said she was worth. For the nice stock like her, the market is strong, I would say. It’s spotty other than that. Good foals and good everything else are bringing good money. It’s encouraging. I think we’ve probably bottomed out and hopefully the people who are left standing can be in good shape.”

Ben McElroy, agent, bought Alpha Kitten for $150,000 at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton November select mixed sale from Bluewater Sales, agent, so the mare’s price at Keeneland in January provided a big pinhooking score, showing that money still can be made even when times are tough.