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Picture : Hip 92, 2023 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Keeneland’s 80th September Yearling Sale began Monday with robust trade that produced healthy results and the sale of eight horses for $1 million or more headlined by an Into Mischief filly sold for $2.3 million to Shadwell Racing and an Uncle Mo colt for $2 million, purchased by Donato Lanni, agent for Zedan Racing.

Total sales for 110 horses reached $55,330,000, down slightly from last year’s first session gross of $57,095,000 when 114 horses, including nine seven-figure horses, sold. The average of $503,000 was up from last year’s $500,833, while the median dipped 11.11% from $450,000 to $400,000.

“There was a lot of energy in the sales pavilion today; it was so fun to see so many people here,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “Many of them were buyers and were participating, and you also had a lot of people that were just interested in seeing the sales process. We work really hard to make sure the community understands the importance of the sales and the Thoroughbred industry.”

 
The diversity of buyers participating in today’s session was borne out by the fact that the top 10 highest-priced horses were purchased by 10 different interests.
 
“It’s really encouraging when you have a stat like that,” Lacy said. “It’s unhealthy when you get one or two entities controlling the market. It’s important when people come here that they feel like they have a chance of buying something. They are spending quite a bit of real money in order to get some of the best bloodstock in the world.”
 

The session-topping filly, who was consigned by Gainesway, agent, is out of Grade 3 winner Delightful Joy, by Tapit, and is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Window Shopping. She is from the family of Grade 3 winners Graeme Six and Cali Star.

“I honestly thought she would bring every bit of $1.5 (million),” Gainesway General Manager Brian Graves said. “She’s a top physical, out of a Grade 3-winning Tapit mare who’s already produced a Grade 2 winner, who is still performing on the track. She was one of the best-looking yearlings I saw this year. We thought that (high price) could happen. From the first time you looked at that filly, you thought that could happen. It’s a pleasant surprise but not shocking.”

A colt by Uncle Mo who is a half-brother to Grade 1 winner and sire Collected sold to Zedan Racing, for $2 million. Runnymede Farm, agent, consigned the colt, who is out of the winning Johannesburg mare Helena Bay (GB) and from the family of Group 2 winner Royal Kingdom (IRE) and stakes winners Koala Princess, Artilena and Woodwin W.

“Imagine selling your horse for two million dollars – there’s no words for that,” Runnymede’s Romain Malhouitre said. “The horse has been awesome since he arrived on Thursday. Showed very well. We knew we had plenty of interest, but you never know. So we are delighted that everybody believed in the horse and the breeders and the land.”

Jersey City Destroyers Stable paid $1.7 million for a colt by Into Mischief who is a half-brother to 2023 Suburban (G2) winner Charge It. Consigned by Gainesway, agent, he is out of the Indian Charlie mare I’ll Take Charge, a daughter of Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady, and from the family of champions Will Take Charge and Take Charge Brandi and Grade 1 winner and sire Omaha Beach.

The colt was bred by Mandy Pope, who sold horses for the first time with Gainesway. The group included another seven-figure horse, a colt by Into Mischief purchased by Grandview Equine for $1.1 million.

“It’s been a wonderful day,” Pope said. “We’ve been selling, and we have not been able to buy anything. We’ve been selling well, and we’re ecstatic about that. It takes a long time to get (a first-class broodmare band) off the ground and going. Fingers crossed, we will continue with a lot of racing success in the future, and breeding and selling success. We had high expectations coming in, and you always panic at the last minute. Gainesway has done a wonderful job selling yearlings for me.”

Gainesway led all consignors Monday by selling 12 yearlings for $9,610,000.

Winchell Thoroughbreds went to $1.4 million for a colt by Into Mischief who is the first foal out of multiple Grade 1 winner Guarana, by Ghostzapper. Consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa, agent, he is from the family of Grade 1 winner Pleasant Home and stakes winners Beatbox and Magic Dance.

“Obviously the first foal out of an amazing racemare,” Ron Winchell said. “We’re the lucky or unlucky ones to be the last ones with our hand up. Dr. (David) Lambert with Equine Analysis (Systems) loved him, and that’s all I needed to hear. Do I need to say anything about Into Mischief?”

“It’s a great result for a great mare,” said John G. Sikura of Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa. “Into Mischiefs are obviously magical horses. No matter the sire, you have to meet the scrutiny of the buyers at the upper end. The horse moved very well. Has a lot of bone, looks sound. One of the astute guys in the business who has had great success bought him. I hope this is his next big horse. We’re excited and happy.”

Two colts by Uncle Mo sold for $1.35 million apiece.

The partnership of Sonson, Woodford, West Point, LEB, agent, acquired the first, a half-brother to champion Midnight Bisou, 2023 Indiana Derby (G3) winner Verifying and stakes winner Stage Left. He was consigned by Hunter Valley Farm, agent.

“I think this colt is going to be a big winner,” said Chuck Sonson, who owns an aviation company and is becoming involved in racing. “We are very excited. We researched him a lot. We are happy to be close to the sale topper. We will get more. This is just the beginning, we hope. I love Lexington. This is my first time in Lexington.”

“We knew he was a lovely horse,” Fergus Galvin of Hunter Valley said. “He had the right pedigree. Deep down we were hoping he would get into the seven-figure range. We’re thrilled. We bought the mare, Diva Delite, several years ago carrying Verifying. We gave a good number for her, but she’s paid us back.”

Also selling for $1.35 million was a son of Uncle Mo purchased by M.V. Magnier. Consigned by Penn Sales, agent for Bar C Racing Stables, the colt is out of the War Front mare Forever for Now and from the family of leading sire Galileo (IRE) and other European standouts such as Black Sam Bellamy and Sea the Stars along with Grade 1 winner My Typhoon (IRE).

“He is a very nice horse,” Magnier said. “(Longtime Coolmore adviser) Paul Shanahan really liked him when he saw him the other day. He is a nice athletic horse. He will stay here for the time being.”

“Wow,” John Penn said in celebrating the first seven-figure horse sold by Penn Sales. “He is a very pretty, nice-moving horse. If he can run, he’ll make a stallion. (Breeders Pam and Neal Christopherson) had sold an Uncle Mo previously for a lot of money and needed to buy a mare, and they bought this mare (Forever for Now) in foal to him (at Keeneland’s 2021 November Breeding Stock Sale). Obviously they hit a home run.”

Purchased by Grandview Equine was a colt by Into Mischief out of multiple Grade 1 winner American Gal, by Concord Point, and from the family of Grade/Group 1 winners Seventh Street and Reynaldothewizard. He was the first seller of the day for breeder Mandy Pope.

“Really nice colt out of a great mare, great family,” Robert N. Clay of Grandview Equine said. “He went for plenty of money, but he really checks all the boxes for us.”

“The horse was drop-dead gorgeous and by the right sire and out of a Grade 1 winner, a young mare who was precocious,” Gainesway’s Brian Graves said. “There were a lot of top people on the horse, and we thought something like that might happen. It’s good to see Mandy Pope selling million-dollar horses. When your first horse in the ring brings a million dollars, I hope it bodes well.”

Selling for $1 million to John Stewart was a colt by Into Mischief who is a full brother to multiple Grade 1 winner and sire Practical Joke. Consigned by Eaton Sales, agent, he is out of Halo Humor, by Distorted Humor.

The session’s leading buyer was West Bloodstock, agent for Repole Stable, who spent $3,345,000 for 10 horses.

The second session of Book 1 of the September Sale starts Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.