Keeneland November Sale

Keeneland November Sale

Anne M. Eberhardt

WinStar Prospects Boost Keeneland Results

WinStar Racing prospects headlined the Nov. 16 session of the Keeneland sale.

The consignment of racing, broodmare, and stallion  prospects offered by Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Racing perked up the market during the Nov. 16 session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale in Lexington, helping increase  the gross and average price for the auction's ninth day from a year ago. WinStar's offerings, which brought  seven of the session's  top 10 prices, included the most expensive horse that was sold,  Funny Sunny, who commanded $380,000.

Purchased by Florida- based Whisper Hill Farm, 2-year-old Funny Sunny is from the first crop of Sharp Humor and is out of the winning Relaunch mare Sunny Laugh. Sold as a racing or broodmare prospect, Funny Sunny is a half sister to the stakes-placed colt Awesome Launch, and is from the family of 2010 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Drosselmeyer. The gray or roan filly won her first career race Oct. 13 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Indiana.

“She’s very well-balanced and she’s put together well,” Whisper Hill owner Mandy Pope said. “She has a good walk. She’s very level-headed. She’s very alert and pays attention without being silly. We like our horses to be very well-mannered and smart about what they’re doing. We think that goes a long way on the racetrack.”

WinStar purchased the filly for $60,000 from Parrish Farms, agent, at this year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training in March.

Pope said Funny Sunny would be sent to trainer Bob Hess Jr. in Florida. The plan is to race her at Gulfstream Park.

Kevin and Tammie Hulse of Nebraska paid the ninth session's second-highest price of $340,000 for  WinStar's Glint(by Sharp Humor), who is undefeated in two races. The 2-year-old colt, who was offered as a racing or stallion prospect,. captured the Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile Stakes at Presque Isle Downs & Casino Sept. 25.

“We’re going to leave him here (in Kentucky) in training with Kellyn Gorder,” Kevin Hulse said. “We’re going to ship (Gorder) a few more horses and see how it works. (Glint) is a nice colt. He had a little chip taken out of an ankle, but it was fine. It was really a small chip. I had three different vets look at him, and (they said that) he has recovered real well.

"He’s a good horse. Everybody is pretty high on him.”

An earner of $81,000, Glint is a half brother to the winners Go for Jan (by Distorted Humor ) and First Grade (by Smart Strike). Their dam, the unraced Deputy Minister mare Glimmer, is out of the grade II winner Recognizable and is from the family of grade I winner Awe Inspiring.

“I figured he would bring between $250,000 and $350,000,” Hulse said. “But I was a little nervous because I was on the filly that was by Sharp Humor (Funny Sunny) earlier and she brought $380,000. I didn’t think she was going to bring $150,000, and I was like, ‘Oh no, we better go see how big the checkbook is because this deal might get ugly.’ I went to $225,000 on her, but I figured that if I backed off her, I would take some of that money and put it on him. He’s the real deal.”

The Hulses, whose racing operation is known as TK Stables, have been involved in the Thoroughbred business for about three years. They have  26 horses in training and own “four or five broodmares,” according to Kevin Hulse.

“My wife and I always really liked horses, but we felt we kind of had to be able to afford it (before starting to buy Thoroughbreds),” he said. “I own a construction company and it has done well, so we decided it would be a good time to get involved.

"The sport seems to have so much negativity to it; it kind of gets old. But there also are a lot of positives.”

Elliott Walden, WinStar’s president, chief executive officer, and racing manager, had expected Funny Sunny and Glint to be popular with Keeneland shoppers.

“The Sharp Humors were our two best, we felt like, so we weren’t surprised that they were the highest-priced,” Walden said. “Everybody wants to have a good 2-year-old. With Funny Sunny winning her only start and Glint winning his only two starts, they had something that was very appealing to buyers.”

“We want to commend WinStar on their professional handling of (the) consignment,” Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell said. “They promoted these horses through an under-tack show at the farm and their presentation at the barn, which drew a tremendous amount of traffic.”

Walden said WinStar had more than 900 shows Nov. 15 with 40 horses. "It has been very active," he said. "I think the closer people get to the racehorse market, the more comfortable they feel spending money right now.”

Gross receipts Nov. 16 totaled $5,670,200 for an average of $22,681 and a median of $10,000.  Last year for the comparable day, gross sales were $3,336,700 for an average of $14,139 and a median of $10,000. In all, 250 horses sold compared with 236 in 2009.

Cumulatively, 2,174 horses have sold for $141,815,800 for an average of $65,233 and a median of $25,000. During the same period last year, 2,022 horses brought $153,696,100 for an average of $76,012 and a median of $32,000.

Mary K. Grum paid $205,000, the day’s third-highest price, for the 3-year-old colt Crystal Moment, also consigned by WinStar Racing. By Distorted Humor, Crystal Moment is out of group I winner Crystal Music, by Nureyev.

The sale continues through Nov. 20. Sessions begin at 10 a.m. EST.