Keeneland: European buyers have been active at the September salePICTURE: Keeneland - Coady Photography
$1.5m Medaglia filly tops Keeneland day one
WITH four horses selling for $1 million or more and buyers from around the world jumping into the bidding fray, Keeneland's September Yearling Sale got off to a fruitful beginning on Monday.
By the end of seven hours of selling under a restructured auction format, 130 horses were listed as sold from 187 offered for total turnover of $34,735,000 and an average price of $267,192.
Consignors may have been a bit overly optimistic as the rate of lots not sold was 31 per cent, but the overall energy at the world's largest yearling market was decidedly positive.
"The market was very good today," said Keeneland sales director Geoffrey Russell. "I thought it was very strong - competitive, spirited bidding with a wide range of buyers. And that was one of our goals, to get more buyers on the grounds to buy horses. We successfully did that."
Despite the reluctance of some European buyers to patronise US yearling sales over the past several years, stables based in Europe played a major role in the first session, particularly with the top echelon of yearlings. Hamdan Al Maktoum's Shadwell operation ranked as leading buyer, with seven yearlings purchased for a total of $3,085,000.
Although acquiring only one horse, the Niarchos family's Flaxman Stables also ranked among the top four buyers by gross, as that lone acquisition, an elegant filly by Medaglia D'Oro, proved to be the session topper at $1.5 million.
"She's a lovely filly from a superb family who will be a very good addition to the broodmare band in due course, hopefully," said Alan Cooper after signing the ticket for the half-sister to Graded stakes winners Hungry Island and Soaring Empire, whose family also includes champion Queena and current US star Verrazano.
The filly, consigned by Gainesway as agent for breeder Emory Hamilton, will be raced in Europe, Cooper said, although no decision had been made on a trainer.
A statuesque bay daughter of Malibu Moon out of multiple Grade 1 winner Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush, was the second highest-priced horse of the day, drawing $1.35 million from Giuseppe Iadisernia's Florida-based Northwest Stud.
"Our eyes had never seen anything that perfect," said Northwest representative Frank Diaz while beaming with enthusiasm. Hill ‘n' Dale Sales Agency consigned the filly, who was bred by George Krikorian.
A native of Venezuela, Iadisernia made his mark by establishing an electrical equipment business in his homeland. He is now involved in racing, breeding and sales in the US, with Northwest owning more than 100 broodmares and five stallions.
Meanwhile, industry newcomer Nat Rea, a Canadian who founded and sold auto parts company Martinrea International, continued what has been a buying spree under his Regis Farms banner by landing an Unbridled's Song colt out of Grade 1 winner Irish Smoke, by Smoke Glacken, for $1.1 million.
In January, Rea bought a yearling daughter of Street Sense for $1.45 million at Keeneland and he also was active at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July and Saratoga selected sales.
Rea, whose thoroughbred base has been established on a recently acquired 300-acre farm near Paris, Kentucky, has declined most interview requests and asks not to be photographed at sales.
Richard Hogan, who oversees Regis's bloodstock interests, described the grey Unbridled's Song colt consigned by Bedouin Bloodstock, agent, as "the kind of horse who could be a Graded stakes winner and then a sire."
Regis ranked as second leading buyer during the session, with four yearlings for a total of $2.4 million. Those purchases included a $700,000 Candy Ride colt out of a half sister to the session-topping Medaglia D'Oro filly who also was consigned by Gainesway for Hamilton.
The other seven-figure yearling of the day was a $1 million War Front colt from the family of top sprinter and young sire Zensational purchased by MV Magnier from the Claiborne Farm consignment.
"He is a very good mover and the lads liked him," Magnier said, adding that the colt would be sent to Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky prior to a decision being made about whether he would race in Europe or the US.
Under Keeneland's new format, the former Book 1 and Book 2 were combined into a revamped Book 1 that covers four sessions. Last year there was a single Book 1 boutique session, and thus Keeneland officials eschewed comparing this year's opening-day results with those from last year.
With more horses offered this year, turnover was more than $4 million over the 2012 session's $30,290,000 for 75 yearlings sold, but the average was less than last year's $403,867. The rate of yearlings not sold declined from the 2012 session figure of 34 per cent.
This year's Book 1 is divided into sessions alphabetically with the opening day beginning with dams' names that started with F, but judging by the pedigrees of the yearlings set for each day, momentum could build. Whereas the opening session included 24 lots catalogued that were out of, or half-siblings to, Grade/Group 1 winners, the second session has 26, the third session features 47 and the concluding session has 30.