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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sales Musings

- No less than 19 broodmares and/or broodmare prospects sold for a million bucks or more at Keeneland on Monday, including the $9 million for Ashado. To me, this falls somewhat less under the ‘insanity’ banner than spending millions for yearling colts that can only make you money in one way – winning graded stakes. Anything less than that and it would take a lot of mares at $3000 each to recoup….and that’s even if he makes it that far, which would at least require him to step onto a track and win a race or two. One bad step while preparing for a maiden start, and you’re probably left with a very expensive pet. On the other hand, a broodmare with a sterling pedigree can be a virtual ATM machine, and can be resold herself either in foal or not. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the odds are better to recoup a seven figure investment on a well-bred broodmare – some of them already with a successful progeny or two – then an unraced yearling.

However, looking at some of these prices, it makes me wonder a bit. A.P. Adventure (A.P. Indy) brought $3.7 million, the second highest price. A.P. Adventure herself was a pretty nice race mare who had a relatively modest race record with three wins, including two stakes wins in just nine starts, and I dunno, going back to her first four dams, I’m not seeing any spectacularly familiar names descending from any of them….but what do I know I guess? And there’s that Storm Cat foal she’s carrying, who of course could theoretically recoup the investment on its own at the 2007 Keeneland yearling sale.

Roar Emotion ($2.4 million) was a nice black-type earner, with the Black Eyed Susan, Demoiselle, and Sabin on her resume; but she doesn’t have the most fashionable pedigree, being by California sire Roar (Forty Niner) out of a winless Capote mare who’s a half to NY sire Mayakovsky. Value is no doubt added by the A.P. Indy foal she’s carrying (who will be inbred 2x4 to Seattle Slew).

Zing ($3.6 million), a daughter of Storm Cat, is the dam of Half Ours, a two year old colt who took the Three Chimneys back on Derby Day for Pletcher and hasn’t been heard from since. Again, just some modest stakes horses amongst her first four dams’ descendents, but she’s carrying an Unbridled’s Song, and a full brother weanling to that foal brought $1.7 million there yesterday.

More interesting to me would be a mare like Fountain of Peace ($3.1 million). This daughter of Kris S. has no race record and is not in foal, but she’s a half to some European stakes winners, U.S. graded winner Snake Mountain, and to the dam of Bago. Her dam, Coup de Genie (Mr. Prospector), is a Group 1 winner in France herself, and a half to Machiavellian and Exit to Nowhere, both also G1 French winners, and the former a successful sire before his passing in 2004. Whatsmore, her 4th dam is none other than Natalma, the dam of Northern Dancer, through that one’s unraced half sister by Hoist the Flag, Raise the Standard. So if I had millions to spend on broodmares, I’d be more intrigued by this one based on her family, and by the juicy possibilities presented by a producer descending from such an influential mare. Perhaps the buyers of the others I mentioned are more motivated by the commercial possibilities in a possible quick fix, while the buyer of Fountain of Peace more in the science, or art, if you will, of breeding. (And then the commercial possibilities.)

- Some weanlings sold yesterday too; a first chance to see the offspring of new sires in the ring. But the top sellers were by familiar names – Unbridled’s Song, Storm Cat, and Giant’s Causeway. The 4th highest seller was from the first crop of Aldebaran, and he brought $485,000. Aldebaran (Mr. Prospector) stands at Darby Dan for $40,000, and is reported to have been bred to 101 mares last year and this. Let’s see, $40,000 times 202….and we wonder why these horses get rushed off to the breeding shed? This guy was just getting going when he was retired after his five year old season. He had won just three out of his first 17 races through four, before taking the Met Mile, Forego, Tom Fool, San Carlos, and Churchill Downs Handicap at five. (Not to mention a second to Congaree in the Carter, and third to Perfect Drift and Mineshaft in the Stephen Foster).

His weanling colt is out of millionaire and Breeders’ Cup F&M Turf winner Soaring Softly, and this is the female family of a LOT of good and great horses, including Devils Bag, Parade Ground, Glorious Song, Tricky Creek, and Mehmet. That’s the kind of family I’d expect to see in these broodmares selling for three million and more.