Solid Trade As KEEJAN Opens

With the blue-blooded Bellavais (Tapit) leading the way, the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale opened with a brisk day of trading Monday.

A total of 186 horses sold for $13,265,100 compared to 2017 when 163 head brought $10,514,000. The average was up 10.57% from $64,503 last year to $71,318, and the median increased 28.57% from $35,000 to $45,000. The RNA rate was slightly down at 38.61% with 117 horses failing to sell. A total of 13 horses sold for $200,000 or more this year compared to just five in 2017’s opening session.

“We started the sale week off very well,” said Keeneland’s Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell. “Gross, average and median are all up. There was no million-dollar horse or $700,000 horse, but I thought the market was consistent all the way through. Foals were at a premium. January has always been a good spot to buy a race filly and obviously today Steve Young found one. Rarity is very important in the marketplace and when these rare pedigrees get put up, people pay premium prices.”

Bellavais was the star of the day, selling for $485,000 to bloodstock agent Steve Young, acting on behalf on an undisclosed client who plans to race the filly this year. The chestnut (hip 334) hails from the deep Darby Dan family of MGISW millionaire Memories of Silver.

The top short yearling of the day–and second highest-priced lot overall–was hip 303, a colt by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, who hammered for $400,000 to Alex and JoAnn Lieblong. The sale also saw a high-priced RNA in the 7-year-old mare Savings Account (Medaglia d’Oro), who left the ring unsold on a final bid of $650,000.

As for the market, consignors said they were seeing more of the same trends seen in the past couple of years, with continued strong demand for quality offerings.

“It seems strong,” said Hill ‘n’ Dale’s John Sikura, who consigned Savings Account. “We’ve had a good sale. We’ve sold our foals well. It’s pretty much repetition of what we’ve seen in the past. People land on a few horses and there is a lot of interest in those. Mares in foal are selling really well. I had some mares marked and they went beyond what I thought. I get the feeling there is pent up demand for good horses. They are hard to find and when you bring them here they are premium buys. It’s all about quality. Not everything you bring up suits market demands, but when you do, you are well rewarded. I’m excited for the 2018 auction season.”

The January sale continues through Thursday with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.

Lieblongs Strike for American Pharoah Colt

Alex and JoAnn Lieblong added a colt by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah to their racing stable when Ocala horseman Robby Harris went to $400,000 to secure hip 303 on their behalf Monday at Keeneland. The bay was consigned by Pope McLean’s Crestwood Farm.

“He is just a really nice colt,” Harris said. “[The Lieblongs] had something out of that mare that was a nice horse. And it doesn’t get better than American Pharoah. We looked at all of the American Pharoahs that were here and we thought he was the best one.”

Bred by the Burns family’s Mount Joy Stables, the bay colt is out of Air France (French Deputy) and is a half to Smooth Air (Smooth Jazz), who carried the Mount Joy colors to victory in the 2009 GII Gulfstream Park H. and 2008 GII Ohio Derby and

GII Hutcheson S. Air France is also the dam of graded stakes winner and young sire Overdriven (Tale of the Cat).

The short yearling was entered in the Keeneland November sale, where he first caught the eye of Alex Lieblong.

“I had this horse looked at in November and I think he was a little immature then and they took him back home,” Lieblong said by phone. “I was waiting for him to show back up, and I’ll be honest with you, I was hoping he would show up at this sale and not the September sale. So I got my wish, but I still had to pay retail.”

Lieblong thinks the colt’s Triple Crown-winning sire helped the yearling stand out.

“I think American Pharoah has probably put some leg on this horse versus even the filly I had [out of Air France],” Lieblong said. “She is a gorgeous filly, but I wish she had a little bit more leg. And I looked at another of the mare’s offspring in the past and it didn’t quite have the leg I wanted on it. But this one did. He was a horse who was hard to miss. I am looking forward to this one. I think he checked every box.”

The Lieblongs purchased Air France’s Bernardini filly for $450,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September sale. The filly, who was a first-out winner at Oaklawn last April, was catalogued to sell as the next hip (hip 304) after her half-brother, but Lieblong decided to keep her and will likely breed her to his 2014

GI King’s Bishop S. winner The Big Beast (Yes It’s True) this spring.

“She’s in Florida,” Lieblong said of the 4-year-old filly All Laced Up. “I’m going to breed her. I am leaning towards breeding her to The Big Beast and I’m probably underbreeding her a little bit there, but I thought it might help The Big Beast. That filly was very quick and had a lot of class to her.”

Air France was bred back to Bernardini last spring.–@JessMartiniTDN

Mo for Town and Country

Grade I placed Motown Lady (Uncle Mo) (hip 148) will be joining the broodmare band at Louise and Kiki Courtelis’s Town and Country Farms after farm president Shannon Potter signed the ticket at $340,000 for the 5-year-old racing/broodmare prospect. The bay was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency.

“She basically checked all the boxes for us at Town and Country for our breeding program,” Potter said. “She’s by Uncle Mo and she’s really pretty, she had a great physical to her. She is Grade I placed. We try to always be active to get the right horses. Hopefully she’ll be nice addition to our broodmare band.”

A $42,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic juvenile purchase in 2015, Motown Lady is out of Binavicar (Vicar) and is a half to multiple stakes placed Liberty Cap (Street Cry {Ire}). She was third for Martin Racing Stable in last year’s GI Zenyatta S. and GII Chilukki S. On the board in 10 of 21 starts, she won three times and earned $203,419.

“We’ll probably just take her home and breed her,” Potter said. “I’ll talk to the boss ladies and see what they think, but most likely she’ll just get bred.”

Of the mare’s final price tag, Potter admitted, “It was probably a little bit more than I wanted to pay, but it’s strong. If you have a good horse right now in this market, especially a good young mare who could run and showed a lot of potential and looks good, they are bringing a pretty good penny.”–@JessMartiniTDN

Violence Pays for Dailey, VanMeter

Renee Dailey and Tom VanMeter enjoyed a quick return on a recent broodmare investment when selling a colt by Violence for $150,000 during Monday’s first session of the Keeneland January sale. Dailey signed the ticket at $16,000 to add the unraced Queen Priscilla (Flatter), carrying her first foal, to the broodmare band at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. The mare’s colt by the highly successful freshman sire (hip 180) sold for $150,000 to Bloodstock Investments V during Monday’s first session of the Keeneland January Sale through the VanMeter-Gentry Sales consignment.

“I actually have to give all the credit to Tom,” Dailey said of the purchase of Queen Priscilla. “He saw her in the back ring and thought she was absolutely beautiful. She is a big liver chestnut mare and we saw she was in foal to Violence. We thought we’d follow her up [to the sales ring] and we got her.”

Violence had 32 first-crop winners in 2017, including stakes winners Barry Lee, Cicatrix and Cosmic Burst.

“We loved the idea of Violence, but we had no idea how strong he would be at this point,” Dailey admitted. “That was one of those things that was pure luck. He is on fire right now.”

The short yearling, co-bred by VanMeter and Ken Meng, impressed Dailey right from the start.

“I can still remember the day he was born,” Dailey said. “He was well-made and really precocious. He stood up immediately and started nursing immediately. We loved him. We thought we would bring him over here and we wanted to get a good price for him because Violence is so strong. We are thrilled, but not super surprised. We would have been happy to bring him back, too.”

An hour or so later, the couple RNA’d a Union Rags filly (hip 225) for $120,000. They had purchased the stakes-placed mare Skating (Awesome Again) carrying the short yearling for $72,000 at the 2017 Keeneland January sale.

“Skating is a really lovely mare,” Dailey said. “We were very interested in her Orb foal that she had in the sale and we didn’t get her, so we bought the mare. We are huge Union Rags fans and invested heavily in Union Rags.”

That Orb filly sold for $60,000 at last year’s January sale before bringing $160,000 at the Keeneland September sale. Skating is back in foal to Exaggerator.

“We’ve been fortunate to buy some mares that were in foal to strong stallions at reasonable prices,” Dailey said. “We have been lucky, but they can be expensive, too. We are looking at mares for this [January] sale and the ones that we like, we think are going to be very costly. We are looking for mares who have earned money themselves, hopefully stakes-placed, and have a good family below them to fill up the page. We are not opposed to purchasing an unraced mare who has a good family below her as well. I think those babies have worked out well for us. We purchased a few in November who are nice mares and we’re hoping they do the same thing.”–@JessMartiniTDN

Golden Muscade a Transatlantic Score

Golden Muscade (Medaglia d’Oro) was plying her trade at Ffos Las in Wales last summer as her half-brother Avery Island (Street Sense) was winding up for his graded stakes-winning juvenile campaign in New York. The 5-year-old broodmare prospect, who originally sold for $11,320 to trainer Brian Barr’s assistant Daisy Hitchins at the 2016 Tattersalls February sale, made 10 starts for Barr and The Golden Horse Racing Club before being transferred Stateside last September. She was off the board in four starts for Kiaran McLaughlin before selling for $125,000 to Stuart Angus, agent, during Monday’s first session of the Keeneland January Sale.

McLaughlin also trains Godolphin homebred Avery Island, who won the Nov. 5 GII Nashua S. and was second in the Dec. 2 GII Remsen S.

Golden Muscade was consigned to Monday’s sale by Taylor Made and Mark Taylor said Avery Island was only part of the mare’s appeal.

“I think there were a couple of different attractions here on Golden Muscade,” Taylor said. “One is [her sire] Medaglia d’Oro, who carries a lot of clout. And she was a big, scopey, nice broodmare prospect who looked like she had plenty of room to carry a good foal. And then of course, Avery Island is right there in the first dam and he’s on the Derby trail and looks very live.”

Golden Muscade is the first foal out of Kinda Spicy (A.P. Indy), a daughter of Chilean Group 1 winner Isola Piu Bella (Chi) (Rich Man’s Gold), who went two-for-two in her racing career for Godolphin in 2011. In addition to Avery Island, Kinda Spicy is also the dam of ‘TDN Rising Star’ Tasteful (Street Cry {Ire}).

“I sold her for a buddy I went to high school with and he was happy with the result,” Taylor said. “It was well above the reserve.”–@JessMartiniTDN

Young Comes Out on Top for Bellavais

When the dust settled after a fury of bidding on the well-bred Bellavais (Tapit), bloodstock agent Steve Young was the last man standing, securing the 4-year-old for a session-topping $485,000 on behalf of an undisclosed client. Young said the filly will return to the track this year under the care of seven-time Eclipse winner Todd Pletcher.

Trained by Jimmy Toner for John Phillips’s Phillips Racing Partnership, hip 334‘s record currently stands at 11-3-2-2 with earnings of $199,210. The chestnut boasts a pair of stakes wins on the turf last year in Gulfstream’s Ginger Brew S. and Suffolk’s Drum Top S.

“She’s from a family that you have to have a world of respect for with the Darby Dan mares,” Young said. “There is such an infrastructure of other horses in that pedigree that are doing well. She is a stakes winner. She has to have a base value out there. There is a safety net that she will never be worth less than, so I thought she was a good gamble to race as a 4-year-old. A lot of that family gets a little better as they get older. She is a multi-surface stakes horse and I think she was an obvious pick.”

Bellavais is out of GSW La Cloche (Ghostzapper), who in turn is a daughter of MGISW millionaire Memories of Silver (Silver Hawk) and a half-sister to MGISW millionaire Winter Memories (El Prado {Ire}); SW War Trace (Storm Cat) and the dams of stakes winners Elusive Collection (Elusive Quality) and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Red Lodge (Midshipman). La Cloche sold to Don Alberto Corp. for $2.4 million at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton November sale carrying a full-sister to Bellavais, now named Tap Fever, a $475,000 KEESEP RNA who broke her maiden at Golden Gate Sunday for Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer and owners Don Alberto, Mark DeDomenico and Edward Taylor.

This already deep family received another timely update earlier in the weekend when the 3-year-old gelding Hawkish (Artie Schiller), a son of La Cloche’s half-sister Bridal Memories (Unbridled), came flying late to graduate in ‘TDN Rising Star’-fashion at Gulfstream Saturday.

Phillips, who consigned the filly through his Darby Dan Farm, was pleased with the sale.

“It was a very practical business decision,” Phillips said. “She is from a very good family that we rarely sell out of, but we have to make the fact of the matter is, we have to make some business decisions from time to time. She just fell in that category of paying stud fees and other obligations to make the whole thing work.”

He continued, “I always feel like we can sell a little bit of gold as long as we don’t sell the gold mine. Fortunately, we have quite a number of mares in that family and hope to continue it. We wish the buyers a lot of luck with the filly and think they will do well.”–@CDeBernardisTDN

Stuart Strikes for Stradivarius

John Stuart of Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services came out on top of a spirited round of bidding to secure the 5-year-old mare Stradivarius (Street Cry {Ire}), carrying her first foal by Medaglia d’Oro, for $375,000 on behalf of owner/breeder Andrew Rosen.

The 4-year-old mare won just one of four starts for owner Earle Mack, but did so in style, romping by 9 1/4 lengths at Evangeline in April 2016 for trainer Al Stall. Out of Aldebaran Light (Seattle Slew), the dark bay is a half-sister to GISW sire Eskendereya (Giant’s Causeway) and English Group 1 winner and sire Balmont (Stravinsky).

“I liked that she ran very fast when she broke her maiden by nine and she is in foal to Medaglia d’Oro,” Stuart said. “She is also a half to two Group 1 winners. She might go back to Medaglia or she could go to Violence, a son of Medaglia d’Oro.”

Stradivarius has previously been offered at the Keeneland November sale, where she RNA’d for $475,000.

“It is a little less than I was expecting,” said consignor Craig Bandoroff of Denali Stud. “I thought she would be $400,000 or a little north, but they looked at her hard in November and looked at her hard now and that is what they thought she was worth.”

Stuart also thought he would have to pay more for hip 248.

“She was RNA’d for $475,000 in November, so they knew they had to sell her for less,” he said. “I was a little surprised that is all she brought to be honest with you.”

As for the market, Stuart added, “I thought it was a little weak this morning, but is picking up a bit. There were a lot of nice mares that did not sell this morning.”–@CDeBernardisTDN

Shadai Scoops Up ‘Elite’ Mares

Representatives of Teruya Yoshida’s Shadai Farm were busy during Monday’s opening session of Keeneland January, securing two broodmare prospects from the Elite Sales consignment: $350,000 purchase Majestic Quality (Quality Road) and $300,000 investment Lady Foghorn (Zavata). Shadai representative Dr. Yuki Shimomura said that it is currently undecided which stallions the mares would go to.

“The Shadai team is as thorough in their homework as anybody,” Elite’s Bradley Weisbord said. “They inspect the mares for a long time and come back multiple times. It is exciting to know these mares are going to a world-class operation that constantly finds and buys the best bloodstock. We appreciate their support.”

The 6-year-old Lady Foghorn (hip 102), a daughter of SP Titia (Northern Spur {Ire}), was their first purchase of the day. Campaigned throughout her career by owner/breeder Stuart Grant’s The Elkstone Group and trainer Anthony Granitz, the Indiana-bred retired last summer with a record of 26-14-4-4 and earnings of $824,273.

The bay’s career highlights include a win in the 2016 GII Falls City H. at Churchill and six listed stakes wins in Indiana. She also placed in two other graded events and closed her career on a winning note in an allowance at Indiana Grand July 4.

“The Elkstone Group brought her here to sell,” Weisbord said. “I think that is very important to establish, especially for a young sales company like ourselves, to have like-minded owners that want to sell their horses. She came with a realistic reserve and was a gorgeous physical. [Grant’s] farm manager did a tremendous job prepping her. She has a great coat on her and came in great shape. She was a runner on both turf and dirt. It was a little bit on the higher end of what we thought she’d bring considering the stallion and her age.”

The 4-year-old Majestic Quality (hip 127) proved quite popular in the ring Monday, but Shadai fended off all comers to take the mare back to Japan. Raced by trainer Keith Desormeaux, Big Chief Racing and Rocker O Ranch, the $40,000 KEESEP yearling buy repaid that initial investment with $154,605 in earnings on the racetrack from a record of 12-1-2-4.

Runner-up in last term’s GII Rachel Alexandra S. as a maiden, the bay earned her diploma at Santa Anita in May and followed that with a pair of third-place finishes in the GII Summertime Oaks June 17 and GIII Indiana Oaks July 15. A half-sister to GSP Diski Dance (Songandaprayer), Majestic Quality is out of She Nuit All (Lost Soldier), who is a half-sister to MGISW Octave (Unbridled’s Song) and MGSW Belle Cherie (Belong to Me).

“This was for a really loyal, good client, Matt, Brian, Don’t Tell My Wife Racing and Keith Desormeaux,” Weisbord said. “I got to know those guys through Exaggerator. Keith buys as many good horses as anybody for under $100,000. He got her to be Grade II-placed. She had a little hiccup over the summer, but they got rewarded. The market is very, very strong. The mare was well positioned and got a chance to shine.”–@CDeBernardisTDN

Heider Retains Savings Account

Grade I-placed Savings Account (Medaglia d’Oro) sparked a fury of bidding at Keeneland Monday, but was ultimately led out of the ring unsold on a final bid of $650,000.

A $310,000 KEESEP yearling purchase by Craig Bernick and Scott Heider, the Tom Proctor pupil won six of 21 starts for earnings of $418,475. Victorious in the 2016 Treasure Chest S., she checked in second in the 2013 GIII Miesque S. and was third to four-time Eclipse winner Beholder (Henny Hughes) in the 2015 GIII Zenyatta S. Her final start was in December of 2016.

“The partnership with Craig was dissolved so Scott owns the whole mare,” said John Sikura, whose Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm consigned hip 205. “The thought was if she made the right price, he’d sell her and if not, he would bring her to the farm and breed her to Curlin.”

He continued, “That was the question mark coming in, whether she’d bring enough, but he knew where he wanted to be. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. He’s got a lovely mare, open and sound and ready to breed. I’m uncertain at this time whether she will come back to the sale or be kept as a broodmare, but she will go to Curlin in February. She could really run and is a big, beautiful daughter of Medaglia d’Oro. He is happy to own her.”

Out of SW Wild Hoots (Unbridled’s Song), Savings Account hails from the family of GISP Be Smart (Smarty Jones) and SW Road Ready (More Than Ready). The 7-year-old mare aborted a foal by Pioneerof the Nile and was being offered as a broodmare prospect.–@CDeBernardisTDN