Champion Abel Tasman sold for $5 million to Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier to lead Monday’s robust opening session of the 2019 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale. The amount for Abel Tasman, cataloged as a broodmare prospect, equals the $5 million spent at the 2000 January Sale for Mackie, a well-bred daughter of Summer Squall in foal to Mr. Prospector, as the highest price in January Sale history.
On Monday, Keeneland sold 223 horses for $21,052,200, for an average of $94,404 and a median of $39,000. During last year’s first session, 186 horses grossed $13,265,100, for an average of $71,318 and a median of $45,000.
“We had a very strong session today,” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell said. “We were proud to offer Abel Tasman and to get the highest price for a broodmare prospect ever sold in January. We thank the Cleary brothers and China Horse Club for the opportunity to market her. It was great to see a large crowd here to watch her sell. She deserved the adoration she got and deserved the price, too.
“It was a very solid sale across the board, even with taking Abel Tasman’s sale price out of the numbers,” he continued. “Short yearlings are very much in demand; there is a great appetite for them. Well-covered broodmares sold very, very well.
“This was a good continuation of the November Breeding Stock Sale. We are in a good market at the moment and horses are being promoted and priced well, which was reflected in the RNA rate (of 29 percent). Consignors are doing a good job of evaluating the market and knowing where a horse should be.”
Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent for owners China Horse Club International and Clearsky Farms, consigned Abel Tasman, a 5-year-old daughter of Quality Road cataloged as a broodmare prospect.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Abel Tasman proved herself one of the best distaffers of her generation, recording six Grade 1 wins and earnings of nearly $2.8 million during her racing career. She was the 2017 champion 3-year-old filly following wins in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Acorn (G1) and Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), and is a finalist for the 2018 Eclipse as champion older mare after notching wins in the Ogden Phipps (G1) and Personal Ensign (G1).
Out of the Deputy Minister mare Vargas Girl, Abel Tasman is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Sky Girl and stakes-placed Moonlight Sky.
“(It’s a lot of money), but she’s a queen, isn’t she?” Dermot Ryan, manager of Coolmore’s Ashford Stud near Lexington, said about purchasing Abel Tasman. “They are very rare when they come across like that, animals like her. She had everything; she’d be anybody’s dream filly to own. She’ll go to one of the Coolmore sires. M.V. (Magnier) will talk to his dad and partners and make a decision (on which stallion).
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have her. It is always significant when you get a queen like her, so hopefully she’ll go on and produce by one of our own stallions. It is very possible she will (stay in America).”
Mark Taylor, Vice President of Marketing and Public Sales Operations for Taylor Made Sales Agency, said Abel Tasman handled the attention of being the centerpiece of the January Sale.
“She was just so classy about the whole thing,” Taylor said. “If you study horses like that (you will see) what separates great horses from average horses. Everything she did was just different than the other horses: the way she handled the stress, the way she cleaned up her (feed), the way she came out and did her job and kind of analyzed what was going on. She looks like she is a totally different breed.
“That is what is fun about selling these kind of horses,” he added. “You get to study one of the best horses we have had in a long time. There are other horses that have the biomechanics she does but they don’t have the X-factor.”
Taylor Made Sales Agency was Monday’s leading consignor, selling 50 horses for $9,433,000. They included four of the session’s 10 highest-priced sellers.
With the purchase of Abel Tasman, Magnier was the day’s leading buyer.
Bidding for Abel Tasman opened at $3 million, and the final price of $5 million landed her in a tie as the most expensive horse ever sold at the January Sale. In 2000, Britton House Stud paid $5 million for Mackie, in foal to Mr. Prospector. A Grade 3 winner by Summer Squall out of Broodmare of the Year Glowing Tribute, Mackie was a half-sister to Kentucky Derby (G1) Sea Hero, Grade 1 winner Hero’s Honor and Grade 2 winners Glowing Honor and Wild Applause, she was consigned by Eaton Sales, agent.
Summer Wind Equine paid $750,000 for A Star Is Born (IRE), a 9-year-old daughter of Galileo (IRE) in foal to War Front with a full sibling to stakes winner and Group 1-placed Fleet Review. Consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent, A Star Is Born is a full sister to Irish highweight and Group 1 winner Rip Van Winkle (IRE) and a half-sister to Italian Group 3 winner Le Vie Infinite.
“War Front and Galileo are the best things on the planet,” Hill ‘n’ Dale owner and President John G. Sikura said. “She is a young mare and already a (stakes) producer. She could have made a million dollars.”
Monday’s third-high seller is 2018 Del Mar Oaks (G1) winner Fatale Bere (FR), a broodmare prospect who sold to Shadai Farm of Japan for $700,000. Supplemented to the January Sale, the 4-year-old daughter of Pedro the Great and the Saumarez (GB) mare Mofa Bere was consigned by ELiTE.
“I got a phone call from Terry Yoshida (of Shadai), and he liked that she was from the Kingmambo lineage,” said Naohiro Hosoda, who signed the ticket. “She is definitely suitable for Japanese racing. The boss says he would like to take her back to Japan immediately, and we have many stallions (to breed her to there).”
Ardfield Bloodstock paid $375,000 for Monday’s top-priced yearling, a colt by Into Mischief whose third dam is Hall of Famer and Broodmare of the Year Personal Ensign. Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, consigned the yearling, whose dam is the stakes-placed Distorted Humor mare Mary Rita.
The day’s second-highest-priced yearling, a colt by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah who is a half-brother to European highweight Certify and Grade 1 winner Cry and Catch Me, sold to Brady Bloodstock for $330,000.
Peter O’Callaghan, who signed the ticket, said the colt likely would be resold at Keeneland’s 2019 September Yearling Sale.
Consigned by Hurstland Farm, agent, the colt is out of the stakes-winning Doc’s Leader mare Please Sign In and from the family of English champion Habitat.
“It is a lot of fun having one like this: an American Pharoah with that kind of pedigree and his physical,” Hurstland owner and manager Alfred Nuckols said. “He was easy to sell. We have always thought a lot of him. He has been a nice colt since he was foaled.”
The January Sale runs through Thursday. All sessions begin at 10 a.m. ET. The entire sale is streamed live onKeeneland.com.