Lexington, Ky. – Active trade from an international contingent of buyers marked the opening session of Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale on Monday, generating across-the-board increases and the sale of two fillies by War Front who commanded seven figures each.
On Monday, Keeneland sold 150 yearlings for gross receipts of $44,642,000, up 34.61 percent from 2014 when 120 horses brought $33,165,000. The average price of $297,613 rose 7.68 percent from last year’s $276,375. The median of $265,000 was up 8.16 percent from $245,000 in 2014.
Keeneland adjusted the format for Book 1 this year. Book 1 spans three days in 2015 versus four days last year; 241 horses were cataloged compared to 190 horses cataloged on opening day in 2014.
“It was a good session from start to finish,” Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell said. “The session was marked by active bidding from a good cross-section of buyers who represented owners from around the world.”
Two War Front fillies sold for $1 million or more each to equal the number of seven-figure horses sold during last year’s opening session.
At $1.45 million, the session-topper was a daughter of War Front consigned by Timber Town, agent, on behalf of owner/breeder Mandy Pope, and sold to Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Co. Ltd. The filly is the first foal out of the group-placed Galileo (IRE) mare Betterbetterbetter (IRE), a half-sister to Group 1 winners and Irish highweights Quarter Moon (IRE) and Yesterday (IRE).
“Mandy is thrilled,” Wayne Sweezey of Timber Town said. “The filly has had lots of play with the best people interested in her. She exuded class the whole time she was here.”
Rick Nichols, vice president and general manager of Shadwell Farm (Kentucky), who signed the ticket for the filly, agreed.
“Great page, great filly, beautifully put together,” he said. “She had everything. She’s awfully pretty.”
“It was very exciting for Mandy Pope,” Russell added. “She has invested a lot of money in the horse business and now she’s recouping some of that investment. I think she’s very happy (the filly) went to Rick Nichols and the Shadwell team, and Keeneland is very appreciative of their constant support.”
A daughter of War Front consigned by Lane’s End, agent, sold to Robert S. Evans for $1 million to be the day’s second-highest priced yearling. Out of the Mr. Greeley mare Azzedine, the filly is from the family of champion Althea and Grade 1 winner Aldiza.
“I think she’s a nice horse,” Evans said. “I love War Front and I love the female family. (The plan is) to race her, and breed her to Tonalist.”
Evans campaigns Tonalist, a son of Tapit who won the 2014 Belmont (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and has earned nearly $2.5 million.
War Front also is the sire of the session’s highest-priced colt, who sold to John Ferguson, buyer for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, for $900,000. Claiborne Farm, agent, consigned the colt, the first foal out of Grade 2 winner Bauble Queen, by Arch.
Ferguson was the session’s leading buyer, spending $6.3 million for 15 yearlings. Other buyers included Teruya Yoshida of Japan’s Shadai Farm, making his first appearance at a September Sale in several years. Shadai bought two yearlings for $1,285,000, including a Tapit filly consigned by Gainesway, agent, for $750,000.
The session’s leading consignor was Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, which sold 27 horses for $8,695,000.
The September Sale continues through Saturday, Sept. 26. Sessions through Wednesday, Sept. 17, begin at 11 a.m. ET. The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.