In what has been a tough, grin-and-bear-it kind of year for sellers of 2-year-olds, Mike Akers of Dapple Bloodstock got a break from the bad news April 2 in Lexington. A son of Songandaprayer, which Dapple had purchased for $110,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Easter Fall yearling sale, turned in the fastest work at an eighth of a mile during the under tack show for the Keeneland juvenile auction. The dark bay or brown colt covered the distance in :9 4/5 over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface.
“He was one of the four or five horses we really liked at the Fasig-Tipton sale, and we felt lucky to get him at that price even though $110,000 was a lot of money and still is,” Akers said. “He’s gorgeous. He’s a very big, handsome colt that stands over a lot of ground. He looks a lot like his daddy, I think.”
Produced from the 12-year-old unraced Storm Bird mare Beach Bunny, the colt is consigned to the Keeneland auction by Ciaran and Amy Dunne’s Wavertree Stables, as agent. From the family of Canadian champion Regal Intention, the colt is a half-brother to three winners.
“We knew he was fast, but we didn’t know how fast,” Akers said. “We had never really asked him like that before. That’s the first time we’ve really asked him for his best. You always think it (the speed) is there, but you never know until they actually do it.”
The fastest quarter-mile worker was a Forestry colt with a time of :20 4/5. Consigned by Kip Elser’s Kirkwood Stables, as agent, the bay 2-year-old was bred in Kentucky by the Hancock family’s Claiborne Farm and was an $80,000 buy-back at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale.
The colt is out of the 11-year-old Mr. Prospector mare Juke, who won four times and finished third in the 2002 Ellis Park Breeders’ Cup Handicap. Her other offspring include Haka (by Dynaformer), a winner that has finished second this year in the Las Virgenes (gr. I) and Santa Ysabel (gr. I) Stakes. Juke is a half-sister to Ophidian, winner of the 1993 Goodbye Halo Stakes at Belmont Park, and American Chance, who scored in five added-money events, including the Jersey Derby (gr. II) and Lafayette Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland in 1992 and the Forego Handicap (gr. II) in 1994.
The weather was warm and mostly sunny for much of the under tack show.
“It seemed like it (the track) was pretty fair and consistent,” said John Stephens of Stephens Thoroughbreds and Vision Sales. “I was pleased with my horses, and they all seemed to get over the track OK.”
Keeneland changed the schedule for the sale this year, holding the under tack show on a Thursday, the day before the start of the track’s spring meeting. The auction will be conducted the nights of April 6 and 7, a Monday and a Tuesday. Last year, the under tack show was held on a Monday, and the sale followed on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
“We’re trying to find what we call the optimum time for both the buyers and the sellers – for the sellers to showcase these horses in the right way and then for us to make sure that all the buyers have the information they need,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “Last year, because we had the under tack show on a Monday and then sold on Tuesday and Wednesday, it was difficult for us to get the DVDs (of the horses’ workouts) out to buyers who weren’t here. While the works were on the Internet, the buyers seemed to like the DVD format a lot better. By having the under tack show this year on a Thursday, that gives us the opportunity to get the DVDs out tomorrow and the buyers will get them over the weekend. Hopefully, they’ll be able to get their decisions all in order before the sale starts on Monday.”
According to Russell, “Everything went very well” during this year’s under tack show. “The times were consistent from 10:40 a.m. until 4 p.m.,” he said. “Now that we’ve had a successful gallop show, it’s up to the buyers to go and look at the horses in the barns. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that they like them on the end of the shank as much as they liked them on the track.”
Each session of the Keeneland juvenile auction sale will start at 7 p.m. (EDT). There are 216 horses cataloged, but 69 (31.9%) already had been scratched as of April 2.