A few notes and observations from the first few days of the Keeneland yearling sale:
I was curious to see the first Frankels offered at auction in North America and how they’d be received. As some of the daily publications available at the sale mentioned, it would remain to be seen how U.S. Bidders would value a horse who strictly raced in Europe, but this is an international sale and Frankel’s greatness can transcend boundaries. I am still an amateur at evaluating conformation and maybe it is just the photographer in me who is drawn in by class and how even untested Thoroughbreds such as these yearlings present themselves, but I was impressed by this grey Frankel colt out of Rose of Summer, the dam of Laragh and Summer Front. And he certainly has a chance to shine on the track, with a sire such as Frankel and a dam that has produced the above-named runners, both winners of multiple graded stakes races, including G1’s. It is interesting too to note that while Rose of Summer has been bred to U.S.-based sires, she too has a European background as her sire El Prado was foaled in Ireland and is by the incomparable Sadler’s Wells. So there is a mix of European and American bloodlines in this colt, but it still slants towards European even on the dam’s side. Did I mention I’m a bit of a pedigree “geek”? It’s just always been an intriguing study to me almost from the time I first started following racing.
– This is hip 198 by Pioneerof the Nile out of Dance Darling, the dam of Join in the Dance.
I liked Pioneerof the Nile tremendously before he sired American Pharoah, so you can imagine I was even more enthused about Pharoah for who his sire was. I was keeping an eye out for the yearlings at this sale by Pioneerof the Nile, curious about how they would be received and who their dams were. Naturally, there will be a big divide of the mares he was booked to before becoming the sire of a Triple Crown winner (which still sounds amazing to say, after all these years!) and after. No doubt these yearlings in book one were impressive, either from a physical standpoint, a pedigree standpoint, or both. I admit I did just take a quick glance because I was looking for horses out of dams I recognized or was intrigued by, and most of Pioneer’s as I saw at quick glance at least seemed to be out of a lot of first time dams or those who hadn’t yet come up with major runners. But then Pharoah himself was out of a largely unproven dam, so that is no knock against these horses. Naturally, no sire can realistically be expected to produce another Triple Crown winner. Once is more than enough, to prove the quality he is capable of passing on, and that is what should appeal to any breeders.
However, this colt (in addition to catching my eye), was also one I thought had some potential being that his dam had produced Join in the Dance, who at one time was a Derby contender and is graded stakes-placed. So we’ll see how this colt fares on the track in a year or two.
– Plum Amazing, Plum Pretty’s first foal
Not only do I feel compelled to visit the sales to see how the yearlings or other young horses produced by top runners whose careers I followed look, as well as to keep any eye on the financial state of the industry as it can be determined by these auctions, but I also go as I always do to keep a foot in the door of the industry that is my driving passion in this world. Of course, now that I have concluded my degree I actually have time to attend more of these things happening in the industry. Without trying to make this piece on the blog being too much about me, still one of the horses I wanted to see was this colt out of Plum Pretty. As I sat on a bench in the shade while he and other horses consigned by Timber Town were being shown, the man showing this colt asked if I’d take a photo of him standing up the colt. I was glad to; while now I have a job that helped me pay my tuition and other odds and ends associated with my final semester and that I appreciate and even like more than some of the jobs I’ve had to have to make ends meet in the past, of course my focus remains on the Thoroughbred world. So to connect with someone working in it, which I’ve just done sporadically so far, was a nice interlude from my usual working days. To hear that he really appreciated and was even a bit awed by – or at least considered himself lucky – to get to work with horses of the caliber of Plum Pretty, Havre de Grace, and Groupie Doll (the latter two especially being horses I’d consider myself almost blessed to get to be around every day) was wonderful. I know plenty of people do a wonderful job even while seeing it as a means to an end, but I still think your best candidates for working with Thoroughbreds are going to be those who almost find their very identity wrapped up in this business, and in appreciating horses of the caliber of those three mares. That is why I will go to every industry event I can as often as I can, because it is deeply a part of me too. So to have this day to talk horses with someone else who feels as I do, someone who even got to go to Ireland as I did and appreciated that country as much as I do – well, that was a nice shift from most of the people I run into day to day who don’t live and breathe almost to be around horses. And it was so nice, too, to know that I could take the day and just take photos once more at Keeneland, with no school pressures lingering in the shadows.
This yearling is by another of my favorite racehorses Midnight Lute, who I have watched as sire since retirement from racing.
The yearling is a colt that I probably was just walking by and noticed, and he struck me as pure class. He is out of Leaseholder, who is the dam of G1 stakes winner Tough Tiz’s Sis. Tough Tiz’s Sis herself is the dam of G2 winner Tiz Midnight, who is by Midnight Lute. That makes this colt closely related to Tiz Midnight, of course, and given that and the classy way he presented himself at the sale, I am intrigued as well to see how that promise translates into racetrack performance when the time comes for him to take that step.
This is a Tale of Ekati colt out of the Malibu Moon mare Catch the Moon. Catch the Moon is the dam of Cocked and Loaded, who won the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill the day before this colt was shown here. Cocked and Loaded is from the breeding program of Little River Farm, where I briefly worked this spring to gain extra income for tuition for my last class, and has stamped himself as one to watch in these early stages of pointing for the Derby next year. While I worked at Little River Farm just briefly, it is still great to see that they have horses of this caliber come from their breeding program. And that is a major boost to this yearling’s value as well.
This yearling above is one of those horses that just makes you stop and say, “Who is that?” She looks like she just has “racehorse” and class written all over her. She is a War Front filly out of Refugee, the dam of Executiveprivilege and Hoppertunity.
The Frankel colt mentioned earlier in this post leaves the ring after selling for $800,000, the highest price for the 5 Frankel yearlings offered in the sale, no doubt helped greatly by his dam’s produce record.
As I prepared to leave the Keeneland sales grounds where all these horses were being offered, along with the hopes of their present connections and the dreams they may help their future connections realize, I stopped at the other side of Keeneland to see where another dream is taking shape – the arrival of the track’s first Breeders’ Cup. It is within reach now, and another glorious meet at this track that feels like my second home is just around the corner. As always, I can’t wait…