Helen Groves at the Keeneland November sale

Helen Groves at the Keeneland November sale

Anne M. Eberhardt

Rare Opportunity to Acquire Alexander-Groves Mares

Sold two mares during Nov. 10 Keeneland session.

B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm went to $425,000 during the Nov. 10 session of the Keeneland November sale to acquire Airs, a young in-foal mare from a deep female family rarely available in the auction place.

Consigned by Gainesway as Hip 804, Airs was bred in Kentucky by the Helen Alexander and Helen Groves Revocable Trust. The 3-year-old Harlan's Holiday filly was unraced, and sold in foal to Union Rags .

Airs descends from one of the best bloodlines produced by Alexander and her mother, Helen Groves, and is a full sister to Japanese group 2 winner and group 1-placed Albiano. The stakes-winning second dam Aurora is the dam of United Arab Emirates Horse of the Year Festival of Light, late grade 1 winner and sire Arch, and grade 1-winning millionaire Acoma. Acoma won seven stakes, including the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs.

"We're happy to get into the family," Spendthrift's Ned Toffey said of the mare's attraction. "That's as good as they get. She's in foal to a really good stallion, so we're very happy with it."

Toffey said the market was competitive during the fourth session.

"It's really tough," he said. "We've been outbid on more than we've actually bought. It's been a strong market, so it's easy to get carried away and overpay, but we've been happy with what we've bought so far."

Alexander, borrowing a line from Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien, was off to "call my mom" following the sale of Airs and Hip 815, Asian Empress, an Empire Maker  mare from the same female family as Airs. Asian Empress has produced multiple black-type stakes winner Tea Time and was offered in foal to Nyquist . The 10-year-old mare consigned by Gainesway as Hip 815 was bought by Olin Gentry for $280,000.

"We just had a lot of mares, and we said we have so many to mate and with the way stud fees are going, you've got to sell a few," said Alexander, who bred 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Bayern . "I don't like to sell anything, but sometimes you have to. We have fillies out of the family so that makes it a little bit easier."

Bayern, who also won the William Hill Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) and stands at Hill 'n' Dale Farms, is represented by his first foals selling this year as weanlings. Through the Nov. 10 fourth sale session, Bayern was represented by four weanlings that sold for $220,000, $200,000, $140,000 and $95,000.