The buoyant success of the first two sessions of Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale on Monday and Tuesday powered steady trade at Wednesday’s third day of selling with healthy increases in results and the sale of six seven-figure horses – topped by a colt by Into Mischief for $1.4 million.
A total of 28 yearlings have sold for $1 million or more during the first three days of the auction, marking the highest number of seven-figure horses sold at a September Sale since 2007.
On Wednesday, the first day of Book 2, 219 yearlings sold through the ring for $66,695,000, up 9.34 percent from last year when 211 yearlings grossed $60,996,000. The average of $304,543 rose 5.35 percent from $289,081 in 2021, while the median increased 8.70 percent, from $230,000 to $250,000.
Cumulatively, Keeneland has sold 439 horses for $180,355,000, for an average of $410,831 and a median of $325,000. The gross is 18.95 percent higher than the total from the corresponding period last year when 419 yearlings sold for $151,618,000. The average is 13.53 percent higher than last year’s $361,857, while the median is 12.07 percent above $290,000 in 2021.
“It was a great session,” Keeneland Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy said. “When you are seeing six million-dollar-plus horses in session three – which brings us up to 28 for the three days – it brings it back to the 2007 levels. The average and the median again are up over last year. It was a solid, competitive session with a diversity of buyers and the money spread among the sellers to large breeders and small breeders. That has been true the whole sale and that is very encouraging.
“It is very active in the barns,” Lacy added. “There is a whole wave of pinhookers from Europe who are just arriving. There are a lot of international people who are coming for the first time or the first time in a long time. I predict the market to be energetic through the entire sale.”
“I think one of the strengths of the September Sale is that good horses come out of every book,” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Cormac Breathnach said. “They’re harder to find. They’re not as obvious on paper, but there are always horses in the middle and later books that have updates and maybe don’t have quite the sire power or had quite the pedigree at the time of placement to end up in the front. There’s good reason to stay involved, and we’re expecting that to drive the buyer base deep into next week as well.
“I spoke to one of the biggest buyers on the way in this morning,” he continued, “and they said they vetted 38 horses yesterday and only managed to buy one. That was pretty staggering to hear. It’s frustrating for them, I’m sure, but it is what creates a buoyant market like we’re seeing here and hopefully putting a lot of money in our breeders’ pockets as well.”
On Wednesday, Larry Best’s OXO Equine paid $1.4 million for the colt by Into Mischief who is the first foal of stakes winner and Grade 1-placed Dawn the Destroyer, by Speightstown. He was consigned by Summerfield (Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck), agent for Stonestreet Bred & Raised.
“It’s always good when the breeder offers to partner with you on the horse (after he sells),” Best said. “As you know I love Into Mischief. I have all these filters I use (in the selection process), and rarely does a horse meet all the filters when it’s a colt. That’s why you don’t see me buying many colts. My filter is pretty stringent. Believe it or not, this one cleared them all and I said, ‘Why am I not buying the horse when I’ve bought all these other Into Mischiefs and done well with most of them?’ I waited until I saw it in the ring again, and I said if I’m going to roll the dice at a big number for a colt and I’m going to stick with the Into Mischief bloodline, this one looks as good as I’ve seen.”
“The horses like him, there aren’t a lot of them,” Francis Vanlangendonck said. “There are so many agents and they have good eyes, so it doesn’t matter where you put them. They’re going to find them. (The colt is) just such an athlete. He’s big, and he looks like an NBA player.”
Justin Casse for John Oxley, M.V. Magnier and Breeze Easy purchased a son of Gun Runner for $1.15 million. Woods Edge Farm (Peter O’Callaghan), agent consigned the colt, who is out of stakes winner and Grade 3-placed Kathballu, by Bluegrass Cat, and from the family of Grade 1 winner Friendly Michelle and Grade 2 winner Kathmanblu.
“I would say all the big money was on him,” O’Callaghan said. “It seemed like they all followed him up here. He was just a lovely, lovely colt very much in the mold of his sire. He was very straightforward. He was a very nice colt when we bought him (as a weanling) and did fabulous. Wonderful temperament. Very solid. All these Gun Runners are easy to train.”
“Everyone likes Gun Runner these days,” Casse said. “They all seem to have tremendous walks and smooth movement. (This colt) has a very good top line. He comes from a good nursery; they raise a good horse. He was a class act on the end of the shank from Day 1. When you have the opportunity to partner up with Coolmore, you have to take it.”
Immediately prior to the sale of the session-topping colt, Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm went to $1.1 million for a Tapit filly from the family of champion Jaywalk and Grade 2 winner Mission Impazible. Consigned by Gainesway, agent, she is out of the stakes-winning Grade 3-placed Dunkirk mare Danzatrice.
“We bought the (full) brother (Tapit Trice) here last year (for $1.3 million), and he is training great with Todd Pletcher in New York,” said Whisper Hill’s Todd Quast. “We have a lot of our mares at Gainesway, and we have seen her there and Mandy was just in love with her. You know how Mandy has an affinity for Tapit. I did not want to pay that much, but you have to pay what the market dictates.”
Three yearlings sold for $1.05 million apiece all to Donato Lanni, agent for SF/Starlight/Madaket. The initial two in the ring were consigned by Pope McLean (Crestwood Farm), agent.
The first, a colt by Gun Runner from the family of Grade 1 winners Flute and Weep No More, Grade 2 winner Filimbi and Grade 3 winner Current, was the fourth horse in the ring.
“Beautiful horse raised by some wonderful people,” Tom Ryan, who signed the ticket, said. “Gun Runner is a sensation. There is no other way to describe him. Our whole team loved this horse. Everyone who (saw) him loved him. It was a very simple consensus vote. We are happy to land him.”
“He was a special horse,” Crestwood Farm Manager Marc McLean said. “He’s a horse we thought could break through and it happened. It was a nice surprise. He was bred by a client; he was foaled and raised at our farm. He has always been a standout. He has such good scope and size, and that’s what made him special. We got lucky and got him in the right spot (in the sale). We were pretty busy this morning; buyers kept coming back, which is a good thing. He was early in the session, which made us nervous, but I believe everybody had done their homework.”
Midway during the afternoon, the same connections acquired a colt by Quality Road who is a full brother to stakes winner Stillwater Cove. Out of the Broken Vow mare Celibataire, he is from the family of Grade 2 winner Interactif and stakes winner and Grade 3-placed Stretching.
“It’s been a great day; unbelievable really,” McLean said. “He was not a huge colt but just a beautiful mover. We wouldn’t dream he would go that high. It was a good job by the sales team. Both of these were for clients and were raised and foaled at our farm. It is rewarding.
“When they (buyers) are on them, they’re on them,” McLean added. “I am more surprised by this one (price) than the first one. We’ve been doing this so long we appreciate it (having seven-figure yearlings).”
“The market is very strong,” Ryan said. “It’s carrying through from Book 1 to Book 2 very nicely. He’s a big, strong, beautiful Quality Road colt. He’s well raised with a proper pedigree, so it’s not that surprising.” Acquiring seven horses for $5.32 million, Donato Lanni, agent for SF/Starlight/Madaket was the session’s leading buyer.
Also selling for $1.05 million to Donato Lanni, agent for SF/Starlight/Madaket was a colt by Into Mischief out of Grade 2 winner More Chocolate, by Malibu Moon. Consigned by Gainesway, agent, he is from the family of Grade 2 winner Little Treasure (FR).
During the session, two yearlings sold for $925,000 each.
Gainesway, agent for Stonestreet Bred & Raised, consigned a colt by Curlin purchased for the amount by Courtlandt Farm. Out of Grade 2 winner Road to Victory, by Quality Road, he is from the family of Japanese Group 1 winner Moanin.
“He was a beautiful horse when we saw him on the farm, and he was a beautiful horse here,” Gainesway General Manager Brian Graves said. “I expected him to be one of our top lots. He was everything you want to see. I considered him for Book 1, but at the time Stonestreet had other horses they ranked higher. That just shows you the quality and depth of their program.”
Gainesway was the session’s leading consignor with sales of $9.78 million for 27 horses.
The second $925,000 seller was a filly by Twirling Candy sold to Rigney Racing. Consigned by Woods Edge Farm (Peter O’Callaghan), agent, she is the first foal of the winning Distorted Humor mare Double Sharp and from the family of Grade 2 winners Bsharpsonata and Backtalk.
Maverick Racing and Siena Farm paid $900,000 for an Into Mischief filly who is a half-sister to champion and sire Shanghai Bobby. Consigned by Stonehaven Steadings, she is out of the stakes-winning Orientate mare Steelin’ and from the family of 2022 Megahertz (G3) and Wilshire (G3) winner Canoodling.
“She is a very athletic, strong filly with a lot of power,” Elliott Walden, WinStar Farm President/CEO and Racing Manager, said. “We thought she would be a good broodmare type down the road. We’re always looking to try to get them to run and then add them to the broodmare band. (The market) is very strong. We have sold really well. For the horses we raised at the farm for China Horse Club and ourselves, it’s been a great sale so far. We’re trying to buy a few to replace the ones we sold.”
“We’ve been very high on that filly all along,” said Aidan O’Meara of Stonehaven Steadings. “She was a Book 1 quality filly but we had two Into Mischief fillies and we wanted to separate them a little bit. She was super popular at the barn. We are delighted with the result. We lost her mother (Steelin’) last year, and it’s great for her to go out with a bang.”
The fourth session of the September Sale, which marks the conclusion of the two-day Book 2, begins tomorrow at 11 a.m. ET. The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.
The September Sale runs through Sept. 24.