For Gerry Dilger of Dromoland Farm in Central Kentucky, the timing could not have been better. A little more than a week prior to the start of the Keeneland September yearling auction, two juvenile graduates of his breeding and selling program – Hot Dixie Chick and Dublin – scored victories in grade I races at Saratoga.
For someone in the commercial end of the Thoroughbred business, there is no better advertisement than success in a major event at the racetrack going into the world’s biggest yearling auction.
“It’s super; I’m delighted,” Dilger said. “It’s a great satisfication for someone who has a small farm and owns only a handful of mares. I only have about 10 mares, and I own them all in partnership. But I’m also humble. Next weekend someone else is going to be the breeder of a good one. I have to give credit to my staff. It’s not one weekend that makes the whole year, it’s 52 weekends, and my staff is at the farm morning , noon, and night.”
Dilger, under the Dromoland banner, sold Hot Dixie Chick for $340,000 to W.K. Warren Jr. at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling auction. The following year, when the daughter of Dixie Union was in the Niall Brennan Stables consignment at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training, she brought $435,000 from Barbara Banke’s Grace Stables.
Bred by Santa Rose Partners, Hot Dixie Chick is out of the grade III-winning In Excess mare Above Perfection. Dilger said he purchased Above Perfection when she was carrying Hot Dixie Chick for $450,000 at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton November select mixed sale.
As a yearling, Hot Dixie Chick “was a very nice filly,” Dilger remembered. “She was very strong with a beautiful body, and she was a good, athletic mover. She turned out a little bit in front. Some people could live with it; others couldn’t. But I got very, very well paid for her.”
Dilger and his long-time client Peter Blum bred Dublin (by Afleet Alex ) in partnership and sold him for $525,000 to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ clients, Robert Baker and William Mack, at the 2008 Keeneland September auction. The Afleet Alex colt is out of the grade I-winning Storm Bird mare Classy Mirage. Dromoland bought Classy Mirage for $290,000 at the 2004 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
“Dublin was a big, robust yearling, very strong,” Dilger said. “He was a good-moving horse with absolutely beautiful balance. This guy was special. I know when Wayne looked at him, he loved him, and there were other people out there who loved him as well. He stood up like he was a picture; he moved well; and he had plenty of bone and size and strength. He looked like a 2-year-old when he was a yearling.”
Dilger’s Dromoland consignmnent has close relatives to both Hot Dixie Chick and Dublin in this year’s Keeneland September auction, which begins Sept. 14 in Lexington. The Speightstown half-sister to Hot Dixie Chick is scheduled to go through the auction ring Sept. 16, and the Vindication half-brother to Dublin will be offered Sept. 25.
“The Speightstown filly is a very, very pretty filly, and I like her a lot,” Dilger said. “The Vindication colt is very, very nice, but he’s far back in the catalog. I don’t know why he was put back that far, but that’s fine. I’ve got no problem with it because I’ve got some good days to sell, and I’m not going to get everything I want. I just go forward (rather than worrying about it).”