No­table gains at Keeneland sale

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Ni­cole Russo

Ken­tucky Oaks win­ner and cham­pion Abel Tas­man opened the Keeneland Jan­uary horses of all ages sale by fetch­ing a record-ty­ing $5 mil­lion from Cool­more – and the ac­tion didn’t let up there. Four days of trade closed Thurs­day with across-the-board gains that ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions, in­clud­ing a record av­er­age price.

“With Abel Tas­man, we kind of an­tic­i­pated that Day 1 would be up from last year,” Keeneland’s di­rec­tor of sales Ge­of­frey Rus­sell said. “But then you take her out, and it was still up, con­sid­er­ably. It’s just been re­ally strong.”

Keeneland Jan­uary con­cluded with 916 horses sold over the four ses­sions for to­tal gross re­ceipts of $46,759,600. That fig­ure marked a 34 per­cent gain for rev­enues from last year’s four-day auc­tion, when 909 horses sold for $34,996,000. It also fin­ished as the auc­tion’s high­est gross since the $70,446,000 amassed in the 2008 edi­tion, be­fore the re­ces­sion later that year. A ro­bust de­mand for brood­mares dur­ing this mixed sale sea­son, which be­gan last Novem­ber, in­di­cates op­ti­mism for the health of the re­cov­ered in­dus­try in the near fu­ture, as mares rep­re­sent longer-term in­vest­ments.

The cu­mu­la­tive av­er­age price fin­ished at $51,048, edg­ing the auc­tion record of $50,182 es­tab­lished more than three decades ago in 1988. It also soared 33 per­cent from last year’s fi­nal av­er­age of $38,499. The me­dian was $20,000, spik­ing 67 per­cent from $12,000 last year and equal­ing the record of $20,000 es­tab­lished at the 2014 auc­tion.

The over­all buy­back rate fin­ished at a re­al­is­tic 22 per­cent in a se­lec­tive mar­ket, im­proved from a cu­mu­la­tive 26 per­cent last year.

Abel Tas­man was the only horse to crack the seven-fig­ure ceil­ing at the auc­tion, com­pared to two who did so dur­ing last year’s re­newal, but there was plenty of mar­ket strength just be­hind her. Four horses sold for prices be­tween $500,000 and $1 mil­lion, a price bracket no horses were in last year. The num­ber of horses sold in the range be­tween $250,000 and $500,000 im­proved to 23 from 18. The de­mand for qual­ity con­tin­ued late into the auc­tion; in the third and fourth ses­sions, 11 horses topped six fig­ures, com­pared to just two who did so in 2018.

“I think the mar­ket is very good – but as we said, it is qual­ity” that sells, Rus­sell said.

The undis­puted star of the show was Abel Tas­man, whose price dur­ing Mon­day’s open­ing ses­sion tied the $5 mil­lion Brit­ton House Stud paid in 2000 for Grade 3 win­ner Mackie, a half-sis­ter to Ken­tucky Derby win­ner Sea Hero in foal to the great Mr. Prospec­tor.

Der­mot Ryan, man­ager of Cool­more’s Ash­ford Stud, said stal­lion plans were still in the process of be­ing fi­nal­ized for Abel Tas­man’s first mat­ing, which will come dur­ing the North­ern Hemi­sphere breed­ing sea­son be­gin­ning next month. Cool­more, of course, stands Triple Crown win­ners Amer­i­can Pharoah and Jus­tify.

Abel Tas­man con­cluded her ca­reer with a record of 8-4-0 from 16 starts and earn­ings of $2,793,385. A six-time Grade 1 win­ner, in­clud­ing the 2017 Ken­tucky Oaks, she was the Eclipse Award cham­pion 3-year-old filly and is a fi­nal­ist for the 2018 older fe­male ti­tle.

Abel Tas­man was bred in Ken­tucky by Clearsky Farm, with China Horse Club buy­ing into the filly early in her 3-yearold sea­son. The mare was con­signed by Tay­lor Made Sales as agent for her own­ers.

Be­hind Abel Tas­man, mul­ti­ple graded stakes win­ner House Rules and the young stakes pro­ducer A Star Is Born each sold for $750,000.

WinS­tar Farm pur­chased House Rules, mark­ing a re­turn home for the daugh­ter of WinS­tar stal­lion Dis­torted Hu­mor who was bred by the farm in part­ner­ship with El Ca­torce Inc. She was sold for $90,000 at the 2012 Keeneland Septem­ber year­ling sale to Lev­erett Miller, as agent, and raced for the late Joseph V. Shields Jr. and trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Shields died in Oc­to­ber at age 80, and Keeneland Jan­uary marked the first phase of a dis­per­sal of his stock, han­dled by Black­wood Sta­bles, as agent.

Mul­ti­ple Grade 2-placed as a 3-year-old, House Rules emerged as a 4-year-old in 2015, win­ning the Grade 3 Ram­part Stakes at Gulf­stream, Grade 3 Top Flight Hand­i­cap at Aque­duct, and the Bal Har­bour Hand­i­cap at Gulf­stream. She placed in three graded stakes that sea­son, in­clud­ing a third­place fin­ish in the Grade 1 Og­den Phipps Stakes.

House Rules sold car­ry­ing her sec­ond foal, to the cover of Qual­ity Road.

A Star Is Born went to Sum­mer Wind Farm. The win­ning Galileo mare’s first foal is Group 1-placed stakes win­ner Fleet Re­view, and she sold car­ry­ing a full sib­ling to that son of com­mer­cial stand­out War Front.

Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency con­signed A Star Is Born, who is a full sis­ter to Group 1 win­ner Rip Van Win­kle.

Among the newly turned year­lings on of­fer at Keeneland Jan­uary, a colt by Union Rags led the way, fetch­ing a price of $390,000 from Al­bert Rac­ing. The colt, con­signed by In­dian Creek, as agent, is the first foal out of the Bernar­dini mare Zon­daq, a half-sis­ter to Grade 2 win­ner Dis­creet Dancer and stakes win­ners Trav­elin Man and Sweet N Dis­creet.

Round­ing out the top three prices among year­lings were a $375,000 colt by lead­ing ju­ve­nile sire Into Mis­chief sold to Ard­field Blood­stock, and a $330,000 colt from the sec­ond crop of Amer­i­can Pharoah sold to Brady Blood­stock.

With the breed­ing sea­son kick­ing off in Fe­bru­ary, the mixed sale sea­son is head­ing to­ward its con­clu­sion. Re­main­ing on the cal­en­dar are the CTBA Jan­uary mixed sale on Wed­nes­day, the OBS win­ter mixed sale on Jan. 29-30, and the Fasig-Tip­ton Ken­tucky win­ter mixed sale on Feb. 4-5.

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