By The Numbers

Winx’s first yearling a genuine rare article

With the news that Winx’s first foal, a filly by Pierro, is set to sell through the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, we look at how the progeny of elite race fillies and mares have fared through the sales ring.

In the hyperbolic surrounds of a yearling sales ring, the word ‘rare’ gets thrown around a lot. But the confirmation that Winx’s (Street Cry) filly by Pierro (Lonhro) will go through the Coolmore draft at the 2024 Easter Yearling Sale, gives the Australian market a shot at the rarest of thoroughbred articles.

We can safely confirm that the progeny of a 25-time Group 1 winner has never gone through a sales ring anywhere in the world. Winx, of course, holds the global record when it comes to elite level wins, and this Pierro filly is her first foal.

The speculation has already begun on what she might be worth. In so many regards, as the first foal of an all-time champion, she is in uncharted waters. The highest amount paid for a Pierro yearling has been the $1.75 million that Michael Wallace and Ghandarvi Racing paid for a filly out of Ennis Hill (Fastnet Rock) earlier this year at Easter.

Winx herself was a $230,000 buy at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale. Vegas Showgirl (Al Akbar), her dam, has had only one of her progeny sell through yearling sales since Winx began her career in 2014. Boulder City (Snitzel), who never raced, sold for $2.3 million at the 2016 Easter Yearling Sale.

Her breeder, John Camilleri, has been blessed with a run of five fillies from Vegas Showgirl to bolster his future broodmare band and has only sold one of those, Courcheval (Snitzel), for $900,000 – after her career had finished. It has been a tightly held family.

While Winx’s racetrack achievements set her apart from any other Australasian-raced horse of the 21st century, she also belongs to a triumvirate of superstar mares of the era with Black Caviar (Bel Esprit) and Makybe Diva (Desert King).

Black Caviar’s seven progeny have all been retained as yearlings and none of the five fillies have been offered after their racing careers either. The tightknit ownership group involved with Black Caviar have also retained, to this point, all of the offspring of her daughters.

Makybe Diva’s owner Tony Santic has been far more willing to part with the progeny of the three-time Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winner as yearlings.

Her first foal, the Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) colt who would be named Rockstardom, was purchased for $1.5 million at the 2009 Easter Yearling Sale by Danny O’Brien. A year later, a Fusaichi Pegasus (Mr Prospector) filly out of Makybe Diva went through Easter and fetched $1.2 million to Mark Kavanagh.

Makybe Diva’s early progeny didn’t live up to their dam on the track and by the time the next of her foals returned to Easter in 2013 the market had cooled on her progeny. Her final four yearlings sold for an average of $358,750.

High-priced yearling progeny of notable Group 1-winning mares since 2000

Name Dam Sire Yearling Price Sex Sale Year Buyer
Sun Ruler Sunline Zabeel $2,000,000 colt NZB Karaka 2007 Manukau Bloodstock
Rockstardom Makybe Diva Galileo $1,500,000 colt Sydney Easter 2009 Danny O’Brien
Dawn Service Sunlight Justify $1,400,000 colt MM Gold Coast 2023 Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Racing/Kestrel T/bred
Aetherius Ethereal Stravinsky $1,300,000 colt NZB Karaka 2007 DC Ellis
La Dolce Diva Makybe Diva Fusaichi Pegasus $1,200,000 filly Sydney Easter 2010 Mark Kavanagh
Nordicus Miss Finland Dundeel $900,000 colt MM Gold Coast 2017 Boomer Bloodstock
Joyous Legend More Joyous Snitzel $800,000 filly Sydney Easter 2020 Legend Racing
Woodbine Miss Finland Hussonet $750,000 colt Sydney Easter 2012 BlueSky TBreds / Gai Waterhouse Rcg
Unnamed Let’s Elope Zabeel $550,000 colt Sydney Easter 2002 John Foote
Avila Makybe Diva Written Tycoon $500,000 filly MM Gold Coast 2020 Viking Racing/DGR T/bred Services FBAA

There are three other Australasian mares who have had 10 or more Group 1 wins, Melody Belle (Commands), Verry Elleegant (Zed) and Sunline (Desert Sun), with the first two yet to have a yearling hit the sales.

Sunline only had one yearling sell, with her colt by Zabeel (Sir Tristram), to be named Sun Ruler, selling for NZ$2 million at the 2007 New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sale at Karaka.

More Joyous (More Than Ready) won eight Group 1 races and has only had two of her progeny sell as yearlings. Her filly, Joyous Legend (Snitzel), sold for $800,000 at the 2020 Easter Sale, while her So You Think (High Chaparral) colt offered through the recent Strawberry Hill dispersal by Magic Millions sold for $260,000.

There are two other mares, apart from those above, who have been named Australian Horse Of The Year this century, Typhoon Tracy (Red Ransom) and Miss Andretti (Ihtiram). Typhoon Tracy’s breeding career was tragically short, as she died delivering her first foal, a Street Cry (Machiavellian) colt named Last Typhoon, who was passed in as a yearling short of his $3 million reserve.

Miss Andretti has had a complicated breeding career and has only had one of her yearlings go through a yearling sale. That colt, named Mr Villeneuve (Exceed And Excel), sold for $460,000 in 2011 at Magic Millions on the Gold Coast.

Miss Finland (Redoute’s Choice) won five Group 1 races on the track and has been active commercially as a broodmare for Arrowfield, with four of her progeny selling as yearlings. All of them have been colts and they have averaged $607,500, with a highest price of $900,000.

Melbourne Cup-winning mares Let’s Elope (Nassipour) and Ethereal (Rhythm) have both had progeny sell as yearlings. Let’s Elope’s Zabeel colt was sold to John Foote for $500,000 at Easter in 2002, while two of Ethereal’s sons were sold at Karaka, including Aetherius (Stravinsky), who was purchased by David Ellis in 2007 for NZ$1.3 million.

More recently, the first foal of triple Group 1 winner Sunlight (Zoustar), a colt by Justify (Scat Daddy), sold for $1.4 million at this year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

On a global level the sight of the yearling progeny of the top echelon of mares going through the sales ring is also rare.

Last month, a Curlin (Smart Strike) colt out of 11-time Grade 1 winner Beholder (Henny Hughes) sold for US$4 million at the Saratoga Select Yearling Sale. It was her fifth foal, but the first to be offered as a yearling.

Going back further, another 11-time elite winner in the United States, Azeri (Jade Hunter), had a host of her progeny offered before they raced. Her first foal, Take Control (AP Indy) was a US$1.9 million breeze-up purchase in 2009, while she also had her first two fillies sell as yearlings.

Dahlia (Vaguely Noble), a global champion of the 1970s, had just one of her yearlings sell, Wajd (Northern Dancer), for US$1.3 million at the same 1988 dispersal sale that she herself was sold at.     

The progeny of the best mares are almost always retained in the United Kingdom, Ireland and continental Europe, especially by the major players.

An exception was at the 2012 Tattersalls October Sale when a Galileo colt out of seven-time Group 1 winner Ouija Board (Cape Cross) was purchased by Demi O’Byrne for gns525,000. That colt ended up being a two-time Derby winner and now five-time Group 1 producing Coolmore sire Australia.

The pattern you will notice is that the majority of the progeny of the best mares which have been sold have been colts. Of the Australasian mares featured above, 18 of their progeny have sold as yearlings and 14 of them were colts.  

This aligns with the philosophy of many major breeders to sell the colts and keep the fillies. So the fact that Winx’s yearling is a filly increases her rare nature.

Across the past three Inglis Easter yearling sales, there have been 102 yearlings offered out of Group 1-winning mares, with 55.9 per cent of them colts and 44.1 per cent fillies. Of the 17 Easter graduates out of Group 1-winning mares in that time who secured prices of $1 million or more, the fillies lead the way nine to eight.

The daughters of Group 1-winning mares do command a premium, with their average price over those past three Easter sales at $660,366, compared to $385,415 for the entire catalogue.

But another interesting aspect is when we look at the top-priced yearling fillies in Australian history, we find that just two of the top 10 are out of Group 1-winning mares.

The preference at the very top end of the market tends to be for yearlings who are siblings to Group 1 horses, not those out of Group 1 mares.

Progeny of Group 1-winning mares at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale since 2021

Year Total Colt Filly $1m plus $1m+ Colt $1m+ Filly
2023 35 18 17 8 4 4
2022 34 20 14 5 2 3
2021 33 19 14 4 2 2
Total 102 57 45 17 8 9

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