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Dispersals fuel January market

14 min read

Cover image courtesy of Keeneland

Written by Jessica Martini and Christie DeBernardis of TDN America

At A Glance

Regal Glory (USA) (Animal Kingdom {USA}), from the Lane’s End Farm draft and the Sam-Son Farm-consigned Danceforthecause (USA) (Giant’s Causeway {USA}) were equal top lots of the day, selling for US$925,000 (AU$1.19 million) to White Birch Farm and Gainsway Farm respectively.

Tuesday’s session saw 247 horses sold for and aggregate of US$23,319,400 (AU$30,025,126), compared to the second session of the Sale last year which saw 225 horses sell in the ring for US$17,007300 (AU$21,897,919).

The session average was up by 24.9 per cent year on year US$94,411 (AU$121,559), compared to US$75,588 (AU$97,324) last year, while the median of US$40,000 (AU$51,502) remained the same.

29 horses sold for US$200,000 (AU$260,000) or more during the session, compared to 21 reaching that mark during last year’s second session of the auction.

Powerful second session

Propelled by the strength of a pair of marquee dispersals, the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale churned out a powerful second session in Lexington Tuesday.

Early in the day, Peter Brant’s White Birch Farm purchased Regal Glory (USA) (Animal Kingdom {USA}) (Hip 403) from the Lane’s End consignment of the dispersal of the Estate of the late Paul Pompa, Jnr. for US$925,000 (AU$1.19 million).

That bid was matched later in the session when Antony Beck’s Gainesway Farm purchased Danceforthecause (USA) (Giant’s Causeway {USA}) (Hip 587) from the Sam-Son Farm dispersal. The two dispersals were responsible for the sessions top nine offerings.

“The power of the dispersal was very obvious here today,” said Keeneland’s Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell. “It was bittersweet, but we appreciate the trust they put in us to put this show on today.”

“It (the dispersal) was bittersweet, but we appreciate the trust they put in us to put this show on today.” - Geoffrey Russell

While shoppers may have come into the January Sale hoping to find bargains in a down market, the dispersals proved demand was still healthy at the top of the market as breeders looked ahead to what Keeneland President Shannon Arvin called, “blue skies.”

“The opportunity, especially with the Sam-Son dispersal, to get into these mares has been limited over the years,” Russell said. “So people are hungry to get into these strong female families. And the same is true with the mares of Mr. Pompa. These are strong female families and, as Shannon quite rightly said, breeders are looking for blue skies ahead. And they have to have the product to produce yearlings to sell.”

During Tuesday’s session, 247 heads sold for US$23,319,400 (AU$30.02 million). The session average was US$94,411 (AU$121,559) and the median was US$40,000 (AU$51,502). Through the auction’s two Book 1 sessions, 456 horses have sold for US$35,484,800 (AU$45.69 million) for an average of US$77,818 (AU$100,195) and a median of US$37,000 (AU$47,639).

“I thought the market was very strong,” Russell said. “I thought the foals sold exceptionally well today. Obviously, Mr. Pompa had some foals in there, but the non-dispersal foals sold very, very well. It was strong from start to finish.”

Larry Best, who purchased the top-priced lot during Monday’s opening session of the auction, again purchased the top-priced short yearling Tuesday, going to US$400,000 (AU$515,024) to secure a filly by City Of Light (USA) (Hip 660) from the Lane’s End consignment.

Lane’s End sold 41 horses on Tuesday for a total of US$5,601,000 (AU$7.21 million) and an average of US$136,610 (AU$175,893).

“To be honest, I feel like it is fairly spotty,” Lane’s End’s Allaire Ryan said of the market. “It is pretty light for the average horse and the below average horses are tough to get moved. If you come up here with no expectations and no reserves, you can get them sold.”

Gainesway’s Alex Solis II agreed the top of the market remained strong.

“I think it is very fair,” Solis said of the market. “Anything that is quality is bringing a lot of money.”

Regal Glory jump-starts Pompa Dispersal

Multiple stakes winner and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Regal Glory (USA) (Animal Kingdom {USA}) got the dispersal of the Estate of the late Paul Pompa, Jnr., off to a quick start, summoning US$925,000 (AU$1.19 million) from Peter Brant’s White Birch Farm just three hips into Tuesday’s session. Hip 403 sold as a racing or broodmare prospect.

Pompa, who campaigned the likes of dual Classic winner Big Brown (USA) and Grade 1 winner Connect (USA) (Curlin {USA}), passed away unexpectedly on October 10. In keeping with his wishes, his entire stock - which is a total of 39 horses, including broodmares, yearlings and racehorses - is being dispersed at this Sale through the Lane’s End consignment. Regal Glory was the first member of the dispersal to go through the ring.

“She was one of the top-class mares in this catalogue and was consistently competitive at the top of her generation,” said Lane’s End’s Allaire Ryan. “In this setting, one like her just stands out. We were really pleased with that and the fact she is going back to Chad (Brown, trainer) at the track. Hopefully, she will do more good things.”

Hip 403 - Regal Glory (USA) | Image courtesy of Keeneland

A daughter of multiple stakes winner Mary’s Follies (USA) (More Than Ready {USA}), Regal Glory currently boasts a record of 11-6-3-0 with earnings of US$773,884 (AU$996,422).

Trained by Chad Brown, the chestnut reeled off a trio of victories in the Penn Oaks, G3 Lake George S. and G2 Lake Placid S. in 2019 and placed in two additional Graded events.

Kicking off 2020 with a second to her stablemate Newspaperofrecord (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) in Belmont’s G3 Intercontinental S. on June 6, the 5-year-old mare was fourth to that foe again in that venue’s G1 Just a Game S. 21 days later and closed out the year with a win in the G3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf S. on September 12.

Mary’s Follies (Hip 725) went through the ring much later in the day, bringing US$500,000 (AU$643,780) from BBA Ireland. She was followed by her 2020 Connect colt (Hip 726), who sold for US$185,000 (AU$238,198) to Larry Best’s Oxo Equine.

“She’s just a class mare through and through,” Ryan said of Mary’s Follies. “That type of quality doesn’t go unnoticed. Despite the fact that she wasn’t pregnant, she was a mare that when people came to see her, she had the appeal. Even though she wasn’t pregnant, her produce record made her easy to like.”

Pompa privately purchased Mary’s Follies after her victory in the 2009 G3 Boiling Springs S. at Monmouth Park for trainer John Forbes. Transferred to Rick Dutrow, the bay finished second in the Lake George in her first start for Pompa and went on to win the G2 Mrs. Revere S. at Churchill in 2010.

The now-15-year-old mare has been a blue hen for Pompa’s operation. Her first foal, Night Prowler (USA), carried Pompa’s silks for five seasons, winning two Graded events and placing in two others.

He was claimed away from Pompa in 2018 and won the Barbados Gold Cup this term. Regal Glory was her fourth foal and she was followed by Cafe Pharoah (USA) (American Pharoah {USA}), a US$475,000 (AU$611,591) OBSMAR buy, who is a multiple Graded stakes winner in Japan.

Beautiful Lover (USA) (Arch {USA}) was another big-figure sale for the dispersal, hammering for US$650,000 (AU$836,914) to Moyglare Stud. A stakes winner, Hip 537 is a half-sister to stakes winner Zivo (USA) (True Direction {USA}).

“She was an exceptional-looking filly as well, especially for that sire line” Ryan said. “She just had the size, the scope, the depth and she is ready to go on training as well. She had the race record and the physical to go along with it, so everything just fell into place.”

“She (Beautiful Lover) was an exceptional-looking filly as well, especially for that sire line. She just had the size, the scope, the depth and she is ready to go on training as well." - Allaire Ryan

A total of 19 of the 39 horses in the dispersal went through the ring Tuesday, selling for a gross of US$3.777 million (AU$4.86 million) and an average of US$198,789 (AU$255,952).

“Things seem to be going pretty well,” Ryan said. “At this stage of the year, you don’t have as many end users attending or the shopping the Sale in the yearling market. Some of the short yearlings I thought they were a little bit light on, but that is the nature of the dispersal. You are at the mercy of who is in attendance. By the same token, yearlings that are good physicals are making everybody’s lists and there are money for the quality ones. Overall, we are pleased with how it has gone and the top lots will exceed your expectations.” 

Sam-Son Consignment dominates

The Sam-Son Farm Broodmare Dispersal dominated the results at Keeneland on Tuesday, as 21 mares sold for a gross of US$6,733,000 (AU$8.67 million) and an average of US$320,619 (AU$412,816). Gainesway Farm purchased the dispersal’s highest-priced offering when going to US$925,000 (AU$1.19 million) for Danceforthecause (USA) (Giant’s Causeway {USA}) (Hip 587).

John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Xalapa purchased Deceptive Vision (USA) (A.P. Indy {USA}) (Hip 598) for $900,000. Danceforthecause was the co-top priced lot Tuesday and the dispersal was responsible for five of the session’s top 10 offerings.

“There were definitely mixed emotions, but pride was the main thing for me because these mares have been nurtured by a Canadian operation that competed on the world stage, or at least the North American stage, for many years,” said longtime Sam-Son manager Dave Whitford after the last Sam-Son mare went through the ring Tuesday night. “So to think that they came down here to be a big part of people’s future, and to be valued by those kind of dollars, speaks volumes. There is a lot of pride.”

Hip 587 - Danceforthecause (USA) | Image courtesy of Keeneland

Whitford admitted the uncertainties caused by the global pandemic were a concern for the operation, but the opportunity to buy into families that have rarely been offered at auction brought out the buyers.

“We thought long and hard about how to disperse the horses,” Whitford said. “The family was concerned about the market. They wanted to maximise their value, but they had made the decision to get out of the business. Keeneland January has always been very good to us. It’s a very strong market and we thought we would really stand out in here. We seemed to be able to attract plenty of buyers. Keeneland felt the same way and they agreed to put on the show for us. I think the market is definitely off a little bit, but when you bring mares like these, the families that haven’t been on the open market very often, it brings everybody out. And the fact that they can bid online and virtually, makes all the difference.”

Ernie Samuel founded Sam-Son Farm nearly five decades ago and the Canadian operation has earned 84 Sovereign Awards, including 2019 Owner and Breeder of the Year, and four Eclipse Awards, as well as 37 Classic victories and 14 Grade 1 wins.

“The family wants me to thank the Keeneland operation,” Whitford said. “When we sat down to go over this a couple of months ago, we asked for the stars and they were more than accommodating. They couldn’t have been any better to us.” 

Sikura Has Eye for Sam-Son Mares

John Sikura, who purchased Desert Isle (USA) (Bernardini {USA}) (Hip 187) for US$1.1 million (AU$1.42 million) at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale last year, added two more daughters of Canadian champion Eye of the Sphynx (USA) (Smart Strike {USA}) to his broodmare band at Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa from the dispersal of the historic Sam-Son Farm Tuesday at Keeneland.

Sikura acquired Deceptive Vision (USA) (A.P. Indy {USA}) (Hip 598) for US$900,000 (AU$1.16 million) and came back a few hips later to acquire her half-sister Fun In The Desert (USA) (Distorted Humor {USA}) (Hip 637) for US$530,000 (AU$682,406).

The 11-year-old Deceptive Vision, who sold in foal to War Front (USA), won the 2014 G2 Canadian S. and the 2015 G3 Doubledogdare S.

“Deceptive Vision was a very good race mare,” Sikura said. “She was in the minority of their runners who left Canada and won here in the U.S., which is an important factor for me. She won the Doubledogdare at Keeneland, she was on the Kentucky Oaks trail. So she was a high-quality race filly. She has a (yearling) War Front filly. If the yearling can run, you have some activity in the family.”

The 10-year-old Fun in the Desert is the dam of Canadian champion 3-year-old filly Desert Ride (USA) (Candy Ride {Arg}) and sold Tuesday carrying a full sibling to that 2019 Woodbine Oaks winner.

“Fun in the Desert is the dam of an Oaks winner,” Sikura said of the mare’s appeal. “And Distorted Humor is a world-class broodmare sire.”

Eye Of The Sphynx, Canada’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2004, is the dam of champion Eye Of The Leopard (USA) (A.P. Indy {USA}), as well as stakes winners Hotep (USA) (A.P. Indy {USA}).

“I bet everything on the one pedigree,” Sikura said. “That’s not to take anything away from any of the others, but for me, I found that the most interesting family. The goal is to try to proliferate that pedigree, refresh it, make the success current and, over time, to have many daughters of all three of those mares enter the broodmare band and be successful both on the racetrack and in the commercial sales ring.”

Sikura grew up watching the success of the Sam-Son operation and he said the dispersal was a pivotal opportunity to get into the historic pedigrees.

“Dispersals are often important momentum shifts,” Sikura said. “If you look back at Overbrook and the (Ned) Evans dispersal and many others, there are usually one or more of those offspring who bear significant fruit to the next purchasers. That’s not to say what I bought will be the ones, but history shows that those dispersals, when you have a chance to buy those elite horses and pedigrees that have been distilled over 30 years, the best of the best, it’s a good opportunity. I take a long-term view in the business and adding multiple daughters from a very good family was something that was the goal.”

"When you have a chance to buy those elite horses and pedigrees that have been distilled over 30 years, the best of the best, it’s a good opportunity." - John Sikura

Sikura continued, “Ernie Samuel and the Canadian heritage and growing up knowing how important those families were from a distance, it was an honor to have the opportunity to buy those mares. Growing up, it was something I would never have dreamed of to be able to own those kind.”

Hill ‘n’ Dale was home to a band of Sam-Son mares and Sikura admitted it was special to watch their success over the years.

“It was like having a Hollywood friend,” he said. “To see them in the movies and then they call you on the telephone. So watching the success of those pedigrees, the mares and the foals that were on the farm, was rewarding.”

Gainesway strikes for Danceforthecause

Grade 1 producer Danceforthecause (USA) (Giant’s Causeway {USA}) was the second mare of the day to reach US$925,000 (AU$1.19 million) when selling to Gainesway Farm as Hip 587 from the Sam-Son Farm broodmare dispersal.

Multiple stakes winner Regal Glory (Hip 403) brought the same price at the start of the session as part of the dispersal of the Estate of Paul Pompa, Jnr.

The unraced Danceforthecause’s first foal was G1 Northern Dancer Turf S. winner Say The Word (USA) (More Than Ready {USA}) and her next foal was G2 Canadian S. victor Rideforthecause (USA) (Candy Ride {Arg}).

She did not produce foals in 2017 or 2018, but had a Distorted Humor (USA) filly in 2019 and a Street Sense (USA) filly in 2020. The 10-year-old mare is currently in foal to Twirling Candy (USA).

Hailing from a deep Sam-Son family, Danceforthecause is a full sister to stakes winner Grand Style (USA). Her second dam is Horse of the Year Dance Smartly (USA) (Danzig {USA}), who is the dam of Canadian champion and Grade 1 winner Dancethruthedawn (USA) (Mr. Prospector {USA}) and stakes winner Dance With Ravens (USA) (A.P. Indy {USA}).

“Right off the bat, her produce has been phenomenal,” said Gaiesway’s Alex Solis, II. “The first foal is a Grade I winner, the second foal is a Grade II winner. It is the family of Smart Strike and, of course, her second dam is Dance Smartly.”

As for the price, Solis said, “Being 10-years-old and the dam of a Grade I winner, you know you are going to have to be in this range or even more.”