Storm Cat colt, sold for a Keeneland fall sale record price of $9.7 million.

Storm Cat colt, sold for a Keeneland fall sale record price of $9.7 million.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Numbers Soar as Storm Cat, Maktoums Dominate Keeneland Sale

Demand for offspring of top stallion Storm Cat coupled with the strong buying power of the Maktoum family pushed Tuesday's second session of the Keeneland September yearling sale to record levels.

Tuesday's second session numbers (comparison with 2004 second session):
-- 184 yearlings sold (179)
-- $98,502,000 gross receipts, up 12.6% ($87,463,000)
-- $535,337 average, up 9.6% ($488,620)
-- $272,500 median, up 13.5% ($240,000)
-- 61 not sold, 24.9% RNA rate (52 not sold, 22.5%)

The session gross was a record for any Keeneland yearling sale and the average represented a September sale record.

Cumulative figures after two days (comparison with the 2004):
-- 372 sold (349)
-- $187,214,000 gross, up 24.3% ($150,648,000)
-- $503,263 average, up 16.5% ($431,656)
-- $285,000 median, up 9.6% ($260,000)
-- 122 not sold, 24.7% RNA rate (106 not sold, 23.3%)

"It was very good," said Keeneland sales director Geoffrey Russell of the session. "We have always considered the Keeneland September sale as the global marketplace and today proved that was true.

"We've always described auction sales as being theater and I don't think anybody would deny that it was, probably, some of the best theater anybody has seen," Russell continued. "What makes this sale so important is that the principles are here. You have all the major players in the world. They are here themselves ... making
decisions themselves, which opens more purse strings."

Top price Tuesday of $9.7 million for a Storm Cat colt set a Keeneland September sale record and the $3.8 million paid for a Storm Cat filly was the co-third-highest price paid for a yearling filly sold by the auction company.

The colt, consigned by Mill Ridge Sales, was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed, who won a protracted bidding war with John Magnier, partner with Michael Tabor in Coolmore Stud.

The colt was consigned by Mill Ridge as agent for Martin and Pam Wygod. The colt was produced from the Wygods' multiple grade I winner Tranquility Lake (by Rahy).

Although Sheikh Mohammed did the bidding, the sale receipt was signed by his agent, John Ferguson. The price is the highest for a yearling sold at the Keeneland September sale and is third-highest overall for the sale company. The Keeneland record price of $13.1 million was brought by Seattle Dancer in 1985, followed by the $10.2 purchase price for Snaafi Dancer in 1983. Both were sold at the now discontinued July select sale.

"This was a horse Sheikh Mohammed felt was the best Storm Cat he had seen," Ferguson said. "He was an outstanding athlete from a very good family and has the same (genetic) cross as (sire) Giant's Causeway . From the moment Sheikh Mohammed laid eyes on this horse, he felt it was very important that he and his brothers race him in the Godolphin name. (We were) very keen to get him."

Sheikh Mohammed manages the Maktoum brothers' Godolphin racing empire.

"He's a colt with a lot of qualities," said Alice Chandler, who owns Mill Ridge with her husband, Dr. John Chandler.

"The whole thing is pretty shocking," Marty Wygod said. "We always thought he was a great colt and a great individual."

In accordance with a pre-sale agreement he made with his wife, Wygod said a portion of the sale proceeds would be donated to the Rose Foundation and the Web M.D. Foundation, two of his wife's favorite charities. Wygod said the couple is also involved with trying to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Pam Wygod said the final price was not expected, even after seeing how well the other Storm Cat yearlings had sold Tuesday.

Ferguson, who led all buyers with 10 horses bought for $15,265,000 during Monday's opening session of the marathon auction in Lexington, earlier went to $6.3 million for a Storm Cat colt produced from Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Secret Status (by A.P. Indy).

Produced from a full sister to graded stakes winner Alumni Hall, the colt was bred in Kentucky by Lane's End owner William S. Farish and partners James Elkins and Temple Webber Jr.

Ferguson, who outbid Irish agent Demi O'Byrne, who represents Magnier and Tabor, for the colt, said the high price paid was due to the combination of the colt's pedigree and conformation.

"He was a very athletic horse," Ferguson said. "Obviously, Storm Cat has been a phenomenal sire and the mare was a very special racehorse. It was a combination of outstanding pedigree and great physical (appearance). Sheikh Mohammed was very keen to secure him."

"Something in his eye will move you," said Sheikh Mohammed. "He's from a grade I mare and a very good family. He's athletic and will move well."

Through the first two sessions, Sheikh Mohammed was the leading buyer, with 23 horses purchased for $40,990,000. O'Byrne and the Coolmore group were second, paying $20,275,000 for 16 horses.

Shortly after the top-priced colt was led out of the sale ring, the stiff competition for Storm Cat yearlings intensified when O'Byrne purchased the filly for $3.8 million from the Eaton Sales consignment. Produced from the stakes-winning Quiet American mare Warrior Queen, the filly brought a price that was co-third all-time for a yearling filly sold at a Keeneland sale.

The Keeneland record and world record is the $4.4 million paid by Shadwell Estate Company for Moon's Whisper, a daughter of Storm Cat bought from the Lane's End consignment at the 2000 fall sale.

"We rated this filly the best filly in the sale," O'Byrne said. "She's good-looking with a very nice pedigree."

Overall, O'Byrne said the Keeneland offerings were the "best overall group of horses I've seen for a long time."

At the session's mid-point, third-highest price of $3.9 million was paid by trainer John Kimmel, agent for Lee Einsidler's Circle E Racing, for a Storm Cat colt produced from the multiple grade I-winning A.P. Indy mare Tomisue's Delight consigned by Lane's End.

"We were real pleased we were able to purchase the horse," Kimmel said. "We thought he was the horse with the most potential as far as sire power...We really wanted this horse. We had a special feeling about him."

"I didn't think we would be able to buy this horse for $3.9 million," said Einsidler. "I didn't think we would get him, but I'm glad we did. I think it was a great buy."

Another Storm Cat colt, this one produced from Serena's Tune (by Mr. Prospector), was purchased by Shadwell for $3.1 million. Owned by Sheikh Hamdan, Sheikh Mohammed's brother, Shadwell was the third leading buyer through the first two sessions, with 15 bought for $9,955,000. Gainsborough Stud, owned by Maktoum al Maktoum, was fifth leading buyer with 10 yearlings purchased for $7,650,000.

The catalogue page for Serena's Tune, a stakes-winning daughter of champion Serena's Song, improved significantly Sunday when her first foal, Serena's Cat (also by Storm Cat), broke her maiden convincingly at Belmont Park. The Storm Cat -- Serena's Tune colt was consigned by John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farm. Hill 'n' Dale bred the colt in partnership with Edward McGhee.

Earlier in Tuesday's session, Ferguson went to $2.3 million to acquire an A.P. Indy colt consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency. Produced from the multiple grade II-winning Storm Cat mare Magicalmysterycat, the colt was bred in Kentucky by Racehorse Management.

The sale runs through Sept. 26, with 10 a.m. daily sessions. However there is no selling on Sept. 16.

Leading Sires - Session 2

Hip-by-hip results from Keeneland