LEXINGTON, Ky- — Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Godolphin acquired the two top-priced horses of Monday’s rousing opening session of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, paying $2.5 million, the highest amount spent on a yearling at public auction in North America this year, for a colt by Tapit who is a half-brother to champion and 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist, and $2.15 million for a son of Medaglia d’Oro who is the first foal out of Grade 1 winner Tara’s Tango. Sheikh Mohammed’s nearby Darley stallion operation stands Nyquist and Medaglia d’Oro.
The price paid for the $2.5 million colt exceeds last year’s $2.4 million September Sale topper.
Monday marked the first of three sessions of the premier Book 1 of the September Sale. Day 1 saw competitive bidding for racing prospects among the world’s most prominent Thoroughbred owners, resulting in seven yearlings selling for $1 million or more – including three horses who appeared in the ring in consecutive order – versus five horses sold for seven figures each during the opening session of last year’s sale.
For the day, Keeneland sold 107 yearlings for a total of $46,231,000, for an average of $432,065 and a median of $325,000. Eighteen yearlings sold for $700,000 or more today.
“The session was incredible,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “The results represent incredible trade and a deep buying bench that was active. The number I am most proud of today is the RNA rate, which was down almost six points to 29%. A lot of folks were trying to get these horses bought and there were multiple bidders, particularly on the top ones.”
Hinkle Farms consigned the session-topping colt, who is out of the winning Forestry mare Seeking Gabrielle, and a Curlin colt from the family of 2019 TVG Pacific Classic (G1) winner Higher Power who sold to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Company Ltd. for $1.05 million.
At last year’s September Sale, Hinkle Farms sold the Tapit colt’s half-sister by War Front (now named Maria Rosa) to Godolphin for $1.75 million.
“It’s really amazing, and I’m really happy for our team at the farm,” Hinkle Farms co-owner and Director of Operations Anne Archer Hinkle said. “Good combination of two years’ work that all happens in 30 seconds. This is a testament to the hard work, and I’m so happy for my dad (Tom Hinkle) because he’s been doing this for so long.”
(Click here for an interview with Anne Archer Hinkle.)
“What a day Hinkle Farms had: selling two horses for seven figures,” Elliston said. “What a tremendous family the Hinkles are. They are loyal Keeneland customers, and we could not be more proud of them. Sheikh Mohammed carried a lot of the water today, and he is a tremendous supporter of Keeneland. Sheikh Hamdan was up there as well, ranking as today’s second-leading buyer.”
“Sheikh Mohammed is delighted to be here,” said bloodstock agent Anthony Stroud, who signed the ticket for Monday’s two high-selling colts. “It is great for him to be back at Keeneland. He selected the horse. He owns the half-brother Nyquist. (Hinkle Farms does) a great job breeding and raising a horse. Sheikh Mohammed really liked this horse; he was his pick of the day. (The colt) has a fantastic pedigree, a good physical, and he will be an exciting prospect.”
Nyquist, a September Sale graduate, is represented by his first crop of yearlings at this year’s auction.
“We have been very impressed with the Nyquist yearlings as we have gone around looking at them,” Stroud said. “That was one of the factors (in this purchase).”
Godolphin was Monday’s leading buyer with three purchases totaling $5,250,000. Its third acquisition of the day was a $600,000 Medaglia d’Oro colt out of stakes winner Wait Til Dawn from the family of Breeders’ Cup winner Spain.
The $2.15 million Medaglia d’Oro colt is out of Tara’s Tango, a daughter of Unbridled’s Song who is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Visionaire and Grade 3 winners Scarlet Strike and Madison’s Luna.
“The boss is just looking for attractive horses that will make good athletes and good racehorses, and that’s why we’re here,” Stroud said.
The colt was consigned by Denali Stud, agent for Stonestreet Bred & Raised.
“It is always nice to get this kind of start,” Denali Vice President Conrad Bandoroff said. “We knew that (Hip) 138 was popular with all the right people, but you never let your expectations get that high. He is an incredible physical. Stonestreet raises as good a horse as anybody in the business. He is a testament to the evolution of their program: a homebred from a Grade 1 winner (also bred and raced by Stonestreet).
“We are fortunate that we get to represent them. We appreciate the whole Stonestreet team. We give them all the credit; they did a fantastic job raising the horse.”
Yuji Hasegawa of Japan acquired a full brother to champion Unique Bella when he paid $1.5 million for a Tapit colt out of Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) winner Unrivaled Belle, consigned by Timber Town, agent.
“This horse had the best pedigree of all the horses we looked at today,” Hasegawa said. “The plan is to take him back to Japan, and hopefully run him on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby and bring him back over here as a Derby horse.”
Repole Stables, Vinnie Viola and Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier paid $1.5 million for Golden Whim, a full brother to multiple Grade 1 winner New Money Honey. Lane’s End, agent, consigned the Medaglia d’Oro colt, whose dam, Weekend Whim, is a full sister to Grade 1 winner Any Given Saturday.
“I got here Friday, and he made a very positive first impression,” trainer Todd Pletcher, who signed the ticket, said. “He is a very attractive colt, athletic mover (with) the pedigree to support it.”
Ben McElroy, agent, paid $1.05 million for the Pioneerof the Nile colt out of stakes winner Uptown Twirl. Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, he is the first foal out of Uptown Twirl, a half-sister to champion Classic Empire and stakes winner Anytime Magic.
“The horse is for Qatar Racing; it will be trained by Simon Callaghan,” McElroy said. “I thought it was one of the better colts today; obviously, that was reflected by the price. I was actually the underbidder on his dam as a yearling when Warrendale (Sales) sold her a few years ago. I always followed the dam; she was pretty talented and ended up being half-sister to Classic Empire so (this colt is) bred on the same cross as a champion 2-year-old.”
Pioneerof the Nile also is the sire of a colt out of Irish Group 2 stakes winner Up (IRE) sold for $1 million to Magnier and Peter Brant’s White Birch Farm. He was consigned by Lane’s End, agent.
Magnier said part of the attraction to the colt was his half-brother, Monarch of Egypt, a $750,000 purchase by Magnier and White Birch Farm at last year’s September Sale. Monarch of Egypt became American Pharoah’s first winner when he won in Ireland in April and has become Group 2-placed.
Gainesway was the day’s leading consignor by gross sales, selling 11 horses for $5,425,000.
The September Sale continues through Sunday, Sept. 22, with the second of three Book 1 sessions starting tomorrow at noon ET.