Generations of equine and human excellence were on full display throughout Book 2 at Keeneland over at Barn 19, home to the Stone Farm consignment.
There, Staci and Arthur Hancock III, their daughters Lynn and Alex, and son Arthur IV hustled to move eight yearlings out for showing and engaged potential buyers with updates, encouraging words, and delicious homemade cookies baked by Stone Farm office manager Barbara Nicholls.
It proved a winning combination. Stone sold seven of its eight offerings and found willing buyers, in particular for two half siblings to Stone Farm-bred graded stakes winners. A Quality Road —Ghost Dancing half brother to Ascend, recent winner of the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1T), found a new home with Speedway Stables for $525,000, while a First Samurai —Steady Course half brother to Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity (G1) and San Felipe Stakes (G2) winner Mastery , whom some believe was the best 3-year-old male on the continent this season before an injury drove him to retirement, went to a Spendthrift Farm/Starlight Racing partnership for $575,000.
As agent, Stone Farm sold a Quality Road—Kitty Wine colt to GMB/West Point Thoroughbreds for $360,000 and a Bernardini —Princess Haya filly to Brad Anderson's Anderson Stables for $485,000.
"Overall, we had a good beginning to this sale," said Arthur Hancock III, who stepped in when needed, but watched proudly as his son and two daughters handled much of the commerce at the barn. "We had several people say the girls were getting the horses out very efficiently. The guys back at the farm did a good job raising the crop and they were presented well. And Arthur as well as Lynn and Alex are out here adding a little spice to the salesmanship."
Speedway Stables, which campaigns $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (G1) winner Collected with Bob Baffert, will be sending the half to Ascend to Baffert, and the colt out of Kitty Wine will go to trainer Dallas Stewart.
"They're in great hands," said Hancock, who enjoys parsing out the wisdom gleaned through five generations of his family that have sold yearlings, beginning with his great-gandfather Richard Hancock, who was wounded at Gettysburg in the Civil War before raising Thoroughbreds in Virginia and selling yearlings Saratoga Springs, N.Y. "My father said the three most important things with a horse were the sire, the dam, and the trainer, and the most important of the three is the trainer, because they can make or break the other two. And these horses will be in good hands and with good people."
The First Samurai colt was selected by Frank Brothers, who trained First Samurai, the sire of recent stakes winners Sharp Samurai, Bet She Wins, and Bal Harbour. "He's a really good-looking, strong colt," Hancock noted. "We've been doing this a long time, and that's why we keep this business honest and above board, because it means so much to the family. It's been our livelihood on this planent.
"Like my grandfather used to say, 'Trust your instincts. The Lord writes with a legible hand.' "