Keeneland Potpourri: Sale News and Notes

Notes and quotes from the Keeneland September sale.

Sheikh Mohammed's 'Friends" Active Buyers

While Sheikh Mohammed was emerging as the leading buyer at the first two sessions of the Keeneland September yearling sale, his “friends” were also among the most active buyers.

Rabbah Bloodstock, described by stud director Jonathan Mills as “a group of friends of Sheikh Mohammed” who are buying horses to race primarily in Europe, purchased 13 yearlings for total receipts of $2,620,000 and an average price of $201,538 during the first two days of the auction.

Mills said Rabbah first began buying yearlings three years ago and is just now beginning to see results from those purchases.

“We are an independent company of Sheikh Mohammed but they are all friends of Sheikh Mohammed,” Mills said of the Rabbah ownership. “We are not Godolphin and we are not Darley, but we are very much a part of Sheikh Mohammed’s group… we are a separate entity.”

Although the Rabbah business plan focuses on young horses with pedigrees that would be aimed at European racing, Mills said some horses would race in the U.S., using many of the same trainers that Sheikh Mohammed employs – Kiaran McLaughlin, Tom Albertrani, and Eoin Harty.

“We look at almost everything,” he said. “We go through the catalog and look mostly at European horses, buying more fillies than colts because they have more residual value for our breeding program.”

Mills said Rabbah is based at former Gainsborough Stud and Aston Upthorpe properties in England.

Whiteley Achieves Seven-Figure Success

Rob Whiteley, who directed Carl Icahn’s Foxfield to the top of the racing and breeding echelons before establishing his own Liberation Farm, hit a seven-figure home run Sept. 9 with an El Prado colt produced from the Clever Trick mare Swift and Classy.

The colt, bred in Kentucky by Liberation Farm and Richard and Audrey Haisfield’s Stonewall Farm, was purchased by Legends Racing for $1 million. The colt was consigned by Tom Evans’ Trackside Farm. “He had the rare combination of “balance and speed,” Evans said.

“It was my best horse” at the sale, Whiteley said.

Although he has bred and sold many top horses under the Liberation banner, Whiteley said the son of El Prado was the first yearling colt he has sold at public auction for $1 million or more since 2001. Then, he sold Strong Hope, bred by Liberation, Trackside, and Arthur Seelbinder, for $1.7 million at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga August yearling sale.

Starlight Stables in Action

While they did not make any million-dollar purchases, the Starlight Stables team was among the active American buyers during the first two days of the Keeneland sale.

Starlight, which began offering partnerships to other investors starting in 2007, consists of Jack and Laurie Wolf and Donald and Barbara Lucarelli. Barry Berkelhammer advises Starlight in its yearling selections.

Standing with the rest of the Starlight team in the rear of the sale pavilion, Jack Wolf said the partnership restricts its buying to select offerings at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky and Saratoga sales and the select sessions of the Keeneland fall yearling sale.

Midway through the second session, Wolf said Starlight had been able to buy nearly all of the yearlings it wanted. He and Lucarelli were especially pleased with the fact that the seven horses they had purchased to that point had been bought for an average of $245,000.