LEXINGTON, Ky. — The highly anticipated first crop of yearlings by 2015 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah, who won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland to close his career, and the participation of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Godolphin highlighted Monday’s opening session of the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Godolphin paid $2.2 million for a colt by American Pharoah to top the session and record the highest price for a Thoroughbred sold at public auction in North America to date this year.
On Monday, Keeneland sold 138 yearlings, including five that fetched more than $1 million each, for gross sales of $48,620,000. The average was $352,319, and the median was $260,000. Monday marked the first of four sessions of the premier Book 1, which runs through Thursday and has 989 elite yearlings cataloged. Last year, Book 1 covered a single session with 167 yearlings in the catalog.
“It was a strong session with competitive bidding at the top,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “It is hard to do comparisons to last year because of the format change this year. Last year on the first day we had 167 horses (cataloged) in Book 1 and then three days of Book 2. This year, we have four days of a blended Books 1 and 2. If you try to do some comparisons, look at the numbers after four days. Every one of those indicators was dynamite. We are very encouraged that the sale started off like we wanted it to.”
American Pharoah led all sires on Monday with 12 yearlings selling for $6.335 million.
Godolphin was the session’s leading buyer, spending $7.28 million on 11 yearlings. In addition to the sale-topping American Pharoah colt, Godolphin’s purchases included a $1.3 million Medaglia d’Oro colt who is the first foal out of Grade 2 winner Moulin de Mougin consigned by Lane’s End, agent; $875,000 for a colt by Into Mischief from the family of Triple Crown winner Affirmed consigned by St. George Sales, agent; and $800,000 for a colt by Medaglia d’Oro out of multiple Grade 2 winner Hungry Island consigned by Gainesway, agent.
Darley America President and Racing Manager Jimmy Bell said Sheikh Mohammed’s appearance at Keeneland and his nearby Godolphin breeding operation after several years had thrilled many people.
“As you know he’s a very busy man, and everybody – obviously the staff of the farm – is so excited for him to come over here and have the opportunity to go through the farm and see the yearlings,” Bell said. “He just enjoys the horses so much, and he loves the sales. He is here with his wife and children. He is having a great stay, and we are delighted he is here. It makes it exciting for everybody.”
“It is an honor for us when Sheikh Mohammed is able to clear his schedule and come here,” Elliston said. “It has been about 10 years since he was last here. He has been such a huge supporter of Keeneland and the September Sale. To see him on the grounds and participate the way he did today is very rewarding for all of us here at Keeneland.”
Monday’s high seller, a son of the stakes-winning Indian Charlie mare Kindle, was consigned by Peter O’Callaghan’s Woods Edge Farm, agent.
“He was a really special horse,” O’Callaghan said. “He’s probably the best yearling we’ve ever had, so I hope (his success) proves to be the case on the race track. Just very grateful for Sheikh Mohammed to come here and buy him. When (Sheikh Mohammed) saw (this colt) today, his eyes lit up. I just had a feeling he was going to try hard to buy him.”
In the name of Cavalier Bloodstock, O’Callaghan purchased the colt as a weanling for $400,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
“It was the most I’d ever paid for a foal,” O’Callaghan said. “He was exceptional the day we bought him, and he just continued to get better and better. He was a tenacious physical specimen, but his temperament and his demeanor (were) almost as big.”
Larry Best’s OXO Equine purchased a son of Curlin who is the first foal out of Grade 1 winner Molly Morgan, by Ghostzapper, for $1.8 million. The colt was consigned by Summerfield, agent for Stonestreet Bred & Raised.
“It’s a good pedigree; I think it’s flawless,” Best said. “Now the big question is can he run? I don’t have a Curlin. I’ve always wanted to find a quality Curlin, and now I’ve found one.”
Sold to Don Alberto Corporation for $1.4 million, the session’s top-priced filly is a daughter of Tapit who is a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner and sire Liam’s Map and Grade 3 winner Not This Time. She was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent.
The filly, out of the Grade 3-winning Trippi mare Miss Macy Sue, was bred by Albaugh Family Stables, which sold Liam’s Map at the 2012 September Sale for $800,000 and campaigned Not This Time.
“We want to buy a lot of colts at this sale, so we decided to sell her,” Albaugh General Manager Jason Loutsch said. “It was a tough decision. We’re happy that she’s going to a great home, and we couldn’t be more excited. It’s a great family and that mare has done so much for us and we couldn’t be more thankful.”
“She is one of the best fillies we have ever raised,” Taylor Made President and CEO Duncan Taylor said. “It may look like a lot of money, but with that pedigree she could produce million-dollar yearlings every year. I think the buyers made a great buy.”
The half-brother by leading sire Tapit to Horse of the Year and 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner California Chrome sold for $1.1 million to Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier. Bedouin Bloodstock, agent, consigned the son of the Not For Love mare Love the Chase.
“He’s a very nice horse,” Magnier said. “The mare is a good producer and he’s a brother to a very good horse. He’s going to stay here and go to (trainer) Todd Pletcher. Let’s hope he’s good. He’s by a good sire, obviously, in Tapit, and if he’s anything the way (Coolmore’s) Cupid turned out (to be a Grade 1-winning millionaire), he (will be) quite remarkable.”
“I am delighted with the buyer – it is always great when a horse is under their management,” said Tom Ryan of breeder SF Bloodstock. “This was a superstar colt from Day One, and that was reflected in the price. The market seems to be holding up very well and it is great to have Coolmore and Godolphin on the grounds today with a lot of domestic buying going on as well.”
Taylor Made Sales Agency was Monday’s leading consignor with 25 horses sold for $9.55 million.
The September Sale continues through Sunday, Sept. 23, with the second of four Book 1 sessions starting Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. The Wednesday and Thursday sessions also will begin at 1 p.m.
The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.