International Sales News

Breeders’ Cup winner Blue Prize tops bill at $5 million on Night of the Stars

Best initially had no intention of buying the Argentine-bred daughter of Pure Prize (Storm Cat), but he happened to be strolling the grounds at Fasig-Tipton’s Newtown Paddocks in Lexington on Sunday when the six-year-old chestnut arrived after a long journey from her landmark victory at Santa Anita Park.

“I was walking on a beautiful sunny day, it was about three o’clock in the afternoon and this horse just got shipped in. She just looked so gorgeous – probably the most beautiful horse I’ve ever seen,” Best declared after buying Blue Prize for $5 million to top Fasig’s November Sale on Tuesday.

“She’s a breathtaking horse – she’s a horse easy to fall in love with,” added Best. “It was an expensive love affair, but hopefully I’ll have success breeding her and I think it was a worthwhile risk, although obviously it was more money than anyone would want to pay.

“I now have a Breeders’ Cup champion,” he noted before adding with a laugh: “It may be the only way I ever get one.”

Ignacio Correas IV, who trained Blue Prize to a trio of Grade 1 wins in America and earnings of US$2,692,253, watched the mare he called “a horse of a lifetime” stand regally in the ring as bids volleyed across the pavilion and his emotions bubbled within him.

“There are not enough words to describe how thankful we are. Thanks, ‘Blue,’ it was an incredible ride, Loca,” Correas wrote on Twitter, using the Spanish word meaning “crazy” to refer to the high-energy mare. “Will miss you!”

Blue Prize stepped into the Fasig-Tipton starring role following the withdrawal from the sale of six-time Grade 1 winner Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute)  and three-time Grade 1 winner Bellafina (Quality Road), who both are slated to continue to race for current owners.

In their absence, the overall single-session sale results were down compared with the 2018 November auction, when European champion Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy) was sold for  US$7.5 million to Stonestreet Stables, which bought out a partner for sole ownership.

Nonetheless, the 128 horses that sold for a total of US$68.011 million on Tuesday averaged an impressive US$531,366, and 18 fillies and mares brought US$1 million or more, a result that Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning jnr called “just kind of mind-boggling.”

In comparison, 140 horses were sold at the same auction in 2018 for a total of US$89.473 million and an average price of US$639,093. There were 22 seven-figure horses auctioned last year.

So much of what transpires at the November Sale can depend on recent racing success, such as strong Breeders’ Cup race results for fillies and mares, or decisions by owners to retain others and not send them through the ring as previously planned.

“You’re thrilled when you get some updates like Blue Prize winning the Distaff,” Browning said, noting that “the nature of this sale is that you get some of those tremendous updates and you sometimes have a loss like Midnight Bisou.

“I’m very pleased with the overall results tonight,” Browning added.

“I think we continued the tradition of the November Sale of having a wonderful marketplace for top-quality fillies and mares and foals and top weanlings. There was tremendous competition across the board from buyers around the world.”

Best, who has been primarily known as a buyer of racing prospects, bought three weanlings along with the sale-topping Blue Prize, spending a total of US$6.265 million. He said he owns several broodmares that he boards with Taylor Made Farm, and he planned to seek advice on which stallion to choose as the first mate for Blue Prize.

His highest-priced weanling purchase was a US$700,000 filly by Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) out of multiple Graded winner Summer Applause (Harlan’s Holiday)

That filly was the second highest-priced weanling sold, with a filly from the first crop of Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Candy Ride) out of multiple Grade 1 winner Love And Pride (A.P. Indy) the leader at US$750,000 when acquired by agent Mike Ryan for an undisclosed owner who intends to race her.

Yet even with his aggressive bidding, Best was outgunned at the auction in terms of total spending by Katsumi Yoshida, owner of Northern Farm in Japan. With his son, Shunsuke, overseeing a Northern team at the sale, Yoshida bought a total of six horses for a total of US$7.7 million, including one in the name of his Lake Villa Farm.

Topping the Yoshida purchases was the US$2.7 million Grade 1-winning mare Photo Call (Galileo), who is carrying what will be her third foal to the cover of Quality Road (Elusive Quality) after producing a 2018 filly by War Front (Danzig) and a 2019 colt by Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) for Teresa Viola Racing Stable.

Shunsuke Yoshida said the Irish-bred Photo Call – whose dam is a half-sister to Irish 1,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1m) winner and Broodmare of the Year Halfway To Heaven (Pivotal), producer of multiple Group 1 winners Magical (Galileo) and Rhododendron (Galileo) – first enticed Northern Farm in 2015, when she was offered at Keeneland and sold to Viola and her husband, Vincent, for US$3m.

“We bid on her but we weren’t able to buy her,” Yoshida said of the Keeneland auction. “This time we got lucky.

“She’s not a big scopey horse, but to us she looks very athletic. She’ll be a very a good broodmare,” he said, adding that Photo Call, who currently is in foal to Quality Road, would be sent to Japan for a 2020 mating that has not yet been decided.

Yoshida’s other high-profile purchases were multiple Grade 1 winner Vasilika (Skipshot) for US$1.5 million, and Secret Spice (Discreet Cat), a four-year-old Grade 1 winner from the family of Canadian Horse of the Year Wonder Gadot (Medaglia d’Oro), for US$1.4 million.

Wonder Gadot will also be heading to Japan after K I Farm successfully bid US$2 million for the four-year-old daughter of Medaglia D’Oro (El Prado) who defeated males in two of Canada’s classic races, the Queen’s Plate (10f) and the Prince of Wales Stakes (9.5f).

“She has a good body and good race record and good pedigree—everything,” said Tomoyuki Nakamura of K I Farm, which bred champion and sire Lord Kanaloa (King Kamehameha) and also owns other Canadian champions Lexie Lou (Sligo Bay) and Catch A Glimpse (City Zip).

“(Wonder Gadot) will be shipped to Japan and be bred to Lord Kanaloa; that’s why we bought her,” he added.

In other major action, agent Mike Shannon signed tickets for a pair of Breeders’ Cup winners, with last year’s Filly and Mare Sprint (Gr 1, 7f) winner and champion female sprinter Shamrock Rose (First Dude) costing US$2.5 million and this year’s Turf Sprint (Gr 1, 5f) winner Belvoir Bay (Equiano) at US$1.5 million. Both were sold as broodmare prospects.

After securing Belvoir Bay, a six-year-old bred in Great Britain by the late Lennie Peacock, Shannon said the daughter of Equiano (Acclamation) would be owned by a partnership still being formed. Belvoir Bay finished a good second to Godolphin’s Blue Point (Shamardal) in the Al Quoz Sprint (Gr 1, 1200m) in March and then ran her Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint male rivals off their feet when going wire-to-wire to victory in course record time of 54.83 seconds for five furlongs.

“She’s the fastest mare in the world,” Shannon said, adding that he had followed Belvoir Bay’s story after she famously survived the San Luis Rey Downs fire by galloping through the conflagration to safety while suffering serious burns on her legs.

Belvoir Bay won 12 of 28 starts, placed eight times and earned US$1,699,787.

Shamrock Rose, a four-year-old by First Dude (Stephen Got Even) who captured five of 15 starts and banked US$968,962, was sold by Penny and Manfred Conrad’s Conrad Farms, and they indicated the price exceeded their expectations.

Also among Fasig-Tipton’s leading buyers was Stonestreet, with owner Barbara Banke overseeing the acquisition of four fillies and mares for a total of US$4.79 million. Topping the group was Mia Mischief (Into Mischief), a four-year-old Grade 1 winner bought for US$2.4 million who will be kept in training with Steve Asmussen.

“That was our goal – mission accomplished,” Banke said after Mia Mischief had been secured. Following another season of racing, Mia Mischief eventually will be bred to Stonestreet’s Curlin (Smart Strike), sire of Breeders’ Cup Classic (Gr 1, 10f) winner Vino Rosso.

“I think that is a very, very good nick and we hope to get stallion prospect,” Banke said.

David Redvers signs for Midnight Bisou’s dam at $1.2 million

Also active at Fasig-Tipton’s Night of the Stars was David Redvers, bloodstock and racing advisor to Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and the Qatar Racing operation the sheikh maintains with his brothers.

Redvers’ first purchase was Diva Delite (Repent), the dam of Midnight Bisou in foal to Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy), for US$1.2 million.

Redvers later said the sheikh will also be involved with a partnership spearheaded by Hunter Valley Farm, which was listed as buyer of Grade 1 winner Separationofpowers (Candy Ride), for US$2.1 million.

Both Diva Delite and Separationofpowers likely will be kept at Hunter Valley, and Sheikh Fahad intends to increase his American breeding programme.

“She’s been bought in a new partnership with a view to breed her to the best stallions in North America,” Redvers said of Separationofpowers.

Regarding Diva Delite, a 12-year-old daughter of Repent (Louis Quatorze), Redvers described her as “very attractive, quality mare, great walker. We loved her. We thought she’s a beauty and we thought she suits the covering sire spectacularly well. She’s the sort of mare we want to add to our team. We’re delighted to get her.

“She’s got the quality and the size that’s going to work well with (Justify). The package is what you’re after and it’s a very, very exciting package,” he added.

Currently, Sheikh Fahad has about a dozen mares at Hunter Valley, and Redvers said his bloodstock holdings in America probably would increase “not massively, but steadily.

“The great thing is that the potential to deal commercially in America is much greater than it is in Europe,” he observed. “This is all part of a big programme, and some of it is to race and some of it is to trade.

“We’re working with a really good team who understand the game inside out and that makes it fun for Sheikh Fahad and that’s what he wants to do.”