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Keeneland September Yearling Sales - Top Tier Babies Worth The Price?

Keeneland SEP SALES
Photo: Keeneland
The 2012 Keeneland September Yearling Sales are upon us and millions of dollars are being spent on royally bred babies. By the end of Session 3, 35 yearlngs have been sold for $500,000 or more. Do these high priced babies live up to their purchase price on the racetrack?
Lets take a look at some of the upper-tier yearlings from 2008 – 2011 and see how they've progressed in their racing careers.

2009 Keenland September Yearlings:
36 yearlings sold for $500,000 or more in 2009. They are now four-year-olds.

The most expensive yearling sold at the 2009 September Keeneland Yearling sale went for $2,050,000. Storm 'n Indian (of Storm Cat - Fleet Indian, by Indian Charlie) a colt out of the 2006 Champion Older Mare, was bought by Darley Stable. He made two starts for trainer Kiran McLaughlin, placing second once. Race record: 2-0-1-0 ($8,940). Storm 'n Indian hasn't recorded any works since his last start on January 8, 2011.

Onepointhreekarats (Medaglia d'Oro - Beaties for Real, by Unreal Zeal) a $1.3 million dollar filly owned by Live Oak Plantation. She is a half sister to stakes winners Friel's For Real, Ryans For Real and Little Thunder never started.

California (A.P. Indy – Madcap Escapade, by Hennesy) sold for $1 million dollars to Coolmore. The son of Ashland (G-1) stakes winner Madcap Escapade raced twice, hitting the board both times for trainer Todd Pletcher. Race record: 2-0-1-1 ($12,715). California was sent to stud this year in Venezuela. (photo)

In Step (Unbridled's Song - Strawberry Reason, by Strawberry Road (AUS)) was a $1 million dollar purchase by Darley Stable. The filly half is a half sister to Champion Juvenile Vindication, plus stakes horses Scipion and Blackberry Road. In Step has won three times. She was victorious in the Queen Tutta Stakes, a seven furlong turf sprint at Belmont for Kiran McLaughlin. She also finished third last October in the Pin Oak Valley View Stakes (G-3). Race record: 7-3-0-2 ($123,110). In Step has no recent recorded works.

Most accomplished yearling in the $500K + price range:
Stakes winners: To Honor And Serve (G-1) In Step (listed).

The most accomplished runner from this price group is To Honor And Serve (Bernardini – Pilfer, by Deputy Minster). Purchaed by Live Oak Plantation for $575,000 and trained by Bill Mott, the colt has won multiple stakes races, including the Cigar Mile and Woodford Stakes, both Grade 1 events. Race record: 15-8-1-3 ($1,778,840).

2010 Keenland September Yearlings:
27 yearlings were sold for $500,000 or more in 2010. They are now three-year-olds.

The sales topper for 2010 at $4.2 million, Mr. Besilu (A.P. Indy – Balance, by Thunder Gulch) was procured by Besilu Stables. The colt was the first foal produced by Balance, a multiple Grade 1 winner and half sister to Champion Zenyatta. Racing fans proclaimed the colt, named, their favorite for the 2012 Triple Crown and eagerly awaited news of the start of Mr. Besilu's racing career. The colt was sent to trainer Todd Pletcher and had a few breezes, the last one on January 1, 2012. As of February 2012, Mr. Besilu was sent to the farm.

Forward March (Distorted Humor - Angel's Nest, by Storm Cat) was a $2,050,000 acquisition for Flag Lake II Stable. The colt's dam is an unraced half sister to the great sire Kingmambo and the French Group 1 winner East of the Moon. A half sister to Forward March produced Rumpelstiltskin, the European Champion Juvenile Filly. The second dam is the great Champion Turf Mare Miesque. Forward March has won his maiden and an optional claiming race for trainer Shug McGaughey. Race record: 5-2-0-2 ($89,025). Forward March's most recent work was on September 7, 2012, 4F :49.53 (13/20) Saratoga turf training course.

Welter Weight(Smart Strike - Ask Me No Secrets, by Seattle Slew) was a $1 million dollar purchase by George Bolton. The colt is out a an Oaklawn Breeders' Cup (G-3) heroine and hails from the distaff family of multiple Grade 1 winning sire Albert The Great. Welter Weight has made two starts for trainer Steve Asmussen. Race record: 2-0-2-0 ($22,400). His last work was September 2, 2012, 5F 1:02.73 (17/21) at Saratoga.

Fed Biz (Giant's Causeway - Spunoutacontrol, by Wild Again) sold for $950,000 to Kaleem Shah. The colt is out of a stakes winning half sister to Minardi, 2000 English Champion Juvenile and to Myth, the dam of World Champion Juvenile and sire Johannesburg. Fed Biz has won three of four starts, including the one mile El Cajon Stakes for trainer Bob Baffert. The second place finisher in the race, Jimmy Creed, was a $900,000 purchase from the same auction. Fed Biz's Race record: 4-3-0-0 ($131,100) His last work was August 25, before the August 31 El Cajon Stakes.

Most accomplished yearling in the $500K + price range:
Stakes winners: My Miss Aurelia (G-1), Fed Biz (listed).

The most accomplished runner from this price group is My Miss Aurelia (Smart Strike – My Miss Storm Cat, by Storm Cat) a $550,00 aquirement by Gorge Bolton. My Miss Aurelia is undefeated in five starts, including vicories in the Frizette (G-1) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She was named the 2011 Eclipse Champion Two Year Old Filly. Race record: 5-5-0-0 ($1,440,000). My Miss Aurelia last breezed on September 9, 2012, 5F 1:01.41 (1/7) over Saratoga's training track.

2010 Keenland September Yearlings:
40 yearlings were sold for $500,000 or more in 2010. They are currently two-year-olds. Many of them are still developing and may not have recorded a workout.

The highest price yearling at the Keeneland Sale in 2011 was Powerful (A.P. Indy – Malka, by Deputy Minister). The colt sold for $1.4 million dollars to John and Jerry Amerman and Robert Evans. Powerful is a ¾ brother by blood to the Grade 1 winnig miler Girolamo, multiple graded stakes winner Daydreaming and the Grade 1 placed Accelerator. Additionally, he's a ¾ brother by blood to the dams of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and the Grade 1 winner and sire Bluegrass Cat, who placed in the Derby. Powerful is trained by Neil Drysdale, but has yet to record a workout.

Resurgence (Awesome Again – Legs Lawlor) was aquired by Adena Springs for $1,350,000. The colt's dam is a half sister to 1997 Horse of the Year and Champion Juvenile Favorite Trick. Resurgence hasn't record a workout.

Ultimate Reward (Unbridled's Song - Lady of Choice, by Storm Bird) was purchased by Besilu Stables for $1.3 million dollars. The filly is a half sister to the Grade 3 winning stakes veteran Multiple Choice. A stakes placed half sister produced three stakes winners (two by Unbridled's Song). Ultimate Reward breezed on September 7, 2012, 3F :38.68 (4/8) over Saratoga's dirt training track.

Secret Jewel (Bernardini - Silk n' Sapphire, by Smart Strike) was also bought by Besilu Stables. The filly cost $1.2 million dollars. She's a half sister to Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf heroine Shared Account, Grade 3 stakes winner Colonial Flag and stakes placed Mark of Success. Secret Jewel hasn't recored a breeze.

Sonoma County (Street Cry - Forest Music, by Unbridled's Song) is a $1.2 million dollar purchase by Gorge Bolton. The colt is a half brother to the winner Maclean's Music (by Distorted Humor) colt and out of a Grade Two winner. He's currently breezing at Vinery Stable.

Silvery Starlet (Unbridled's Song - Silvery Swan, by Silver Deputy) is a $1 million dollar aquisition by Whiper Hill Farm. The filly is a half sister to Haskel Invitational (G-1) hero Roman Ruler, Cigar Mile winner El Corredor, Grade 3 winner Silver Tornado and stakes placed Maimonides. Silvery Starlet hasn't recorded a breeze.

Most accomplished yearling in the $500K + price range:
None of the two year olds have run in a stakes race, yet, but it is still early in their careers. Many of them are two-turn routers who need time to mature.

The only horse in this price range to have won is Violence (Medaglia d'Oro - Violent Beauty, by Gone West) bought by Black Rock Stables, LLC for $600,000. The colt won his debut at Saratoga by a neck for trainer Todd Pletcher. Race record: 1-1-0-0 ($48,000) His last breeze was September 10 4F :48.60 (4/48) dirt training.

How they fared overall:

Reviewing the 63 yearlings that sold at the September Yearling Sales for $500,000 or higher in 2009 and 2010, 14 never raced, 13 made one or two starts, 13 made three or four starts, and 23 made five or more starts. Four runners won a stakes race. Only two earned back their purchase price. Horses in the US and Europe were researched. This doesn't take into account horses that may have raced in Japan or South America.

Records show that the typical stakes winner sells in the price range of $50,000 - $400,000. Two of the last three Kentucky Derby heroes passed through the Keeneland sales ring as yearlings. Animal Kingdom cost $100,000, while I'll Have Another sold for a paltry $11,000. There is less likelihood of earning back the purchase price or obtaining a stakes winner from the top echelon of the September yearling sales.

Armed with this information, horse players can use sales price to their advantage when handicapping an elite field of maidens. More expensive doesn't necessarily mean better.


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Older Comments about Keeneland September Yearling Sales - Top Tier Babies Worth The Price?...

After all these high priced babies, look at Emma's Encore cost $3,000 and has won two stakes races so far. Sadly, I have read in many horse rescue newsletters of their volunteers finding many a horse in the feedlots awaiting a possible trip to the slaughterhouse which had originally sold for over $100k as a yearling. Recently a horse that was one of the highest price yearlings sold a number of years ago in Australia was found on a feedlot for $85.
These are some sad statistics for anyone that signed a check for over $500,00 this September. Very interesting article!

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Meet Laurie Ross


I've been around horses for most of my life, working in racing stables as a hot walker and exercise rider in my teenage years, and later as a volunteer with rescued and retired racehorses. I became interested in pedigree when the sons and daughters of my favorite horses started their racing careers.   


For more than a decade, I've passionately studied pedigree, how it applies to handicapping and breeding theories. In 2010, I joined Horse Racing Nation as their Pedigree Analyst, focusing on juvenile stakes winners, Triple Crown contenders and first crop sires from a handicapping perspective.   


In 2011, I accepted the role of South Florida Coordinator and Advisory Board Member for the national non-profit Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association (ThoroFan). Working closely with Gulfstream Park management and other race fans, we created a ThoroFan Chapter at Gulfstream Race Track. Our main project is assisting Thoroughbred rescue and re-training groups.


I continue to maintain my website Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds and blog of the same name. As a pedigree consultant, I specialize in assisting small to mid-size breeding/training operations with broodmare breeding reports, sales catalog analysis and recommendations on claims and private sales. 10 - 20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue and retraining groups.
I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic please contact me at

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