Son of Danehill Sets Hong Kong Sale Mark

By Tracy Gantz
A son of Danehill set a Hong Kong record of HK$7.5 million ($965,873) at the International Sale of 2-year-olds Saturday held at Sha Tin Racecourse. Cheng Keung Fai outbid Wong Wing Keung, the owner of Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) entrant Bullish Luck, to obtain the colt.

The mark eclipsed the old record of HK$6 million ($771,506) set in 2004.

The sale grossed HK$81.2 million ($10,457,180), an increase of 69.2% over last year, while the average rose 63.1%, from HK$1,777,778 ($229,243) to HK$2.9 million ($373,471), and the median climbed 41.7%, from HK$1.8 million ($232,108) to $2,550,000 ($328,397). The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), which conducts the sale each year in conjunction with its Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races, purchases yearlings at auctions around the world and readies them for resale to allow Hong Kong owners an opportunity to increase the quality of their racing stables.

"We will make a significant profit, but we want to stress it's not that we want to profit from the sale," said Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, executive director of the HKJC, who estimated the take at HK$30 million. "We are delighted with the sales result. It obviously shows the confidence in Hong Kong racing."

Engelbrecht-Bresges said that in the future the HKJC is likely to reevaluate its budget so that it can purchase even higher-quality animals. The organization may also decide to institute a sales stakes.

"That would give something of the profit back," Engelbrecht-Bresges said, "because we want the people who come here to have a special experience, feel satisfied about the horses they got, and be satisfied with the value."

Danehill, who died in 2003, has been especially popular with Hong Kong buyers. The son of Danzig has sired two-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year Fairy King Prawn, Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) winner Lucky Owner, and Scintillation, who is entered in Sunday's Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I).

The sale topper is out of the Secretariat mare Sister Dot, who has also produced Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male Dehere. He cost 360,000 Euros at the 2005 Goffs Orby Million Yearling Sale. Fai declined to be interviewed after the sale, but it was reported that Tony Cruz, who trains Hong Kong stars Bullish Luck and Silent Witness, would condition the youngster.

The sale offered a catalog of 30 2-year-olds, though two were withdrawn. American-bred stallions dominated, siring 15 of the 28 2-year-olds through the ring. Three American-bred graduates of the 2005 Keeneland fall yearling sale sold: a colt by Street Cry -- Slamya, by Seattle Slew, who brought HK$3.5 million ($450,741) and had sold for $240,000; a gelding by Mizzen Mast  -- Salini, by Woodman, who brought HK$2.5 million ($321,958) and had sold for $255,000; and a gelding by Langfuhr  -- Try My Thai, by Sewickley, who brought HK$1.8 million ($231,809) and had sold for $110,000.

About 120 Hong Kong owners registered to bid at the sale. The catalogue featured primarily geldings, a few colts, and no fillies.

"We don't buy fillies," Engelbrecht-Bresges said. "We are not at the moment encouraging breeding (in Hong Kong). So we focus on colts."

Sui Pak Kwan paid HK$4.4 million ($566,645), the second-highest price of the sale, for an Australian-bred gelding by More Than Ready  -- Dainty Dancer, by Al Hareb. Trainer David Ferraris will get the youngster.

"I have the only other son of More Than Ready in Hong Kong," Ferraris said, "and like this horse and sire very much."