Record $8.2 million Keeneland yearling goes to Mandy Pope

September 11, 2019 03:35pm
Record $8.2 million Keeneland yearling goes to Mandy Pope
Photo: Courtesy of Keeneland

What will be the final foal sent to auction out of blue hen mare Leslie’s Lady, who has produced champion Beholder and sire Mendelssohn, hammered for a sales-topping — and historic — $8.2 million on Wednesday at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

The total made Hip 428 the most-expensive yearling filly ever sold at Keeneland and tied her for fourth on the all-time September sale list.

To little surprise, Mandy Pope, who has gone to great lengths to acquire top broodmare prospects in recent years, purchased the daughter of American Pharoah after a frenetic round of bidding in the Keeneland sales pavilion.

“She’s got a lot more pedigree than some of them, but she doesn’t have the race record yet,” said Pope, who once made history by going to $10 million for Horse of the Year Havre De Grace. “So we’ve got a lot of racing to do.”

She added that there’s no trainer in mind yet.

“We’ve got to get her there first,” said Pope, who will break the filly and begin her training at her expanded Whisper Hill Farm facilities in Florida that now include a track.

Pope was expecting to spend in the range of just $4 million. Instead, she doubled Tuesday’s $4.1 million Godolphin purchase of a Curlin colt that had marked Keeneland’s most expensive yearling sold since 2010 and also made Hip 498.

Property of Clarkland Farm, Leslie’s Lady, a Tricky Creek mare, is 23 years old.

"But in my opinion, this was the best individual the old mare has ever had," said Clarkland's Fred Mitchell. "Can you believe a (23)-year-old mare had something like this? But Leslie’s Lady, she still thinks she’s 12 or 13 years old."

She’s currently in foal to a filly by Kantharos, and Mitchell said that one will not go to auction.

"We dream of breeding a nice horse, and this is what it’s all about for the little consignors and the small guy," he added. "The farm has been in the family since 1774, and it’ll be there for the children for the rest of their lives. "We’re keeping two fillies out of the old mare, this is the last one to sell out of her. The fillies will stay there for the kids and grandkids.”

Hip 498, despite spending an extended amount of time in the sales ring, stood stoically as the numbers rose. When a bit of applause broke out to finish, she didn't balk, either.

"You can't fault her," Pope said. "She's perfectly balanced. She's gorgeous. She's not too big. She's not too small. Obviously we're hoping that Beholder hits it as a broodmare and that we do.

"She certainly has tremendous value should she not make it to the races for whatever reason. Like anything, it's a big gamble. Fingers crossed, lots of prayers, and please wish us well."

The Keeneland sale once again enjoyed robust commerce on Wednesday. Keeneland sold 124 horses for $65,082,000, for an average of $524,855 and a median of $375,000.

This year’s Book 1 spanned three days versus a four-day Book 1 in 2018. Cumulatively, 340 horses grossed $160,463,000, for an average of $471,950 and a median of $355,000.

A total of 20 yearlings sold for seven figures in Book 1, including seven that brought final bids of $2 million or more.

I would describe today’s session as the cherry on top of the three days that is Book 1,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “That’s the way you close out a Book 1: under 19% on RNAs; an average of nearly $525,000; 28 horses sold for $700,000 or more; 27 fewer horses sold today compared to this session last year and the gross was $12 million more. Congratulations to consignor Clarkland Farm and buyer Mandy Pope on the $8.2 million filly. What a tremendous part of an incredible session that was.”


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