The 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale blew up to be one of its most profitable renewals in recent history. Keeneland has held a yearling sale every year since 1943. In that inaugural sale came the 1945 Kentucky Derby Winner Hoop Jr. Since then countless Triple Crown race winners, Breeders’ Cup winners, and Champions have passed through the sales ring. Some of those winners sold for extravagant sums, while others could have been purchased by anyone. Connections looking to win lucrative races are willing to spend the big bucks to acquire the best of the best.
22 Yearlings eclipsed the million dollar mark in this year’s sale, a new sale record. Blue blood stallions like Tapit, Curlin, and Medaglia d’Oro had several go for seven figures. The demand was also high for Pioneerof the Nile yearlings due to his premature passing. The highest mark of course went to Triple Crown Hero American Pharoah – the sire of one of the most priceless offerings in Keeneland history. Here is an in depth look at yearlings that hit the million dollar mark at this year’s sale.
HIP 75 Colt (Tapit x Seeking Gabrielle)
Purchased for $2,500,000 by Godolphin
This flashy Tapit colt sold for a cool $2,500,000 to be the first seven figure offering of the sale. His price tag was $100,000 above the 2018 sales topper at $2,400,000. Tapit yearlings have long been a staple of the yearling sale and continue to bring hefty price tags. This colt was a half brother to 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Winner and 2016 Kentucky Derby Winner Nyquist. He is also from the family of Grade 1 winner Sahara Sky, a fantastic family based off of strong graded stakes winners. Being by Tapit, this colt may not be as precocious as his big brother in the beginning. Seeking Gabrielle has three foals to the races and all three have won, so he will realistically at least get his picture taken. Look for him in the Godolphin blue next season.
HIP 138 Colt (Medaglia d’Oro x Tara’s Tango)
Purchased for $2,150,000 by Godolphin
Godolphin made it very clear at this year’s sale that they were in the hunt to win American racing’s most desired prize – the Kentucky Derby. Godolphin was by far the most active big spender at the sale. This Medaglia d’Oro colt was another important high value purchase. Medaglia d’Oro speaks for himself as one of the most popular stallions in the country. Nearly every yearling he produces is beautiful and commands attention. This was also the first foal of Grade 1 winner Tara’s Tango. Tara’s Tango is the type of broodmare that has what it takes to become exceptional, and Stonestreet will give her the best chance to get there. Tara’s dam Scarlet Tango also produced graded stakes winners Visionaire, Scarlet Strike, and Madison’s Luna. This colts black type would have been hard for anyone to resist.
HIP 162 Colt (Curlin x Transportation)
Purchased for $1,050,000 by Shadwell
Like Godolphin, Shadwell is a stable extension of the UAE Royal Family. Owned by Sheikh Hamdan, Shadwell also came to play at this year’s sale. This Curlin colt was the first of several major purchases. This colt was physically outstanding but also boasts a nice page. His dam was unraced but has plenty of blacktype background. She is a half sister to Champion Alternation and stakes winner Interrupted. Canadian Horse of the Year Peaks and Valleys also hails from this family and is a half brother to this colt’s second dam. A Curlin colt with this type of pedigree is worth the price despite having an unproven dam.
HIP 172 Colt (Tapit x Unrivaled Belle)
Purchased for $1,500,000 by Yuji Hasegawa
It is very surprising that Mandy Pope decided not to hang onto this colt. Mandy keeps a lot of the foals she breeds, especially out of her extra prized broodmares. This colt is a full brother to Champion Unique Bella. Even being the full to a Champion, this price tag of $1,500,000 may end up being a steal. Many forget that the dam was a Champion herself taking the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in 2010. She is also one of a select few to defeat the great Rachel Alexandra. Unrivaled Belle is one of the rarest of all broodmares, a truly great racemare that goes on to produce something similar to her own ability. This is a proven cross that works and the first colt out of the dam. Purchased by Yuji Hasegawa, he could remain in the United States or make his way to Japan.
173 Colt (Pioneerof the Nile x Up)
Purchased for $1,000,000 by M.V. Magier and White Birch Farm
It is no surprise that this colt was the first major purchase of the sale for Coolmore. By the late Pioneerof the Nile, this colt is a ¾ brother to graded stakes performer Monarch of Egypt. Monarch of Egypt is perhaps the best so far of the American Pharoah 2 year olds. Despite being bred elsewhere, this colt is Coolmore through and through. His dam Up was a multiple graded stakes winner for the team trained by Aidan O’Brien. Back a bit farther in the pedigree you will find Up’s half brother and multiple Grade 1 winner Dutch Art. This colt’s page speaks for itself and will probably land with Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle. Was purchased in partnership with Peter Brant’s White Birch Farm.
HIP 174 Colt (Pioneerof the Nile x Uptown Twirl)
Purchased for $1,050,000 by agent Ben McElroy
Another Pioneerof the Nile colt that made noise for his late sire in session 1. This colt is the first foal out of stakes winner Uptown Twirl. Uptown Twirl is out of the hot young sire Twirling Candy, giving this colt a very ‘now’ pedigree. Only adding to the positives, dam Uptown Twirl is a half sister to Breeders’ Cup Champion Classic Empire. This colt is bred extremely close to the 2 Year Old Champion and has a lot of similarities. Was purchased by Ben McElroy for an undisclosed client.
HIP 185 Colt (Medaglia d’Oro x Weekend Whim)
Purchased for $1,500,000 by Repole Stables, Viola, and M.V. Magnier
This Medaglia d’Oro colt is another that comes from a very deep family. Dam Weekend Whim has produced five horses to race with four winners including this colt’s full sister, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner New Money Honey. Popular blacktype runner Coconut Shrimp is also a half sister to this colt who was owned by co-buyer Repole Stables. This colt’s dam is also a half sister to Grade 1 winner Any Given Saturday. The female family continues to produce no matter if they are raced or unraced. Globetrotting stakes winner Almoonqith also comes from this family. This well rounded colt primed to excel on either turf or dirt will for sure head to Todd Pletcher.
HIP 199 Filly (Union Rags x Zayanna)
Purchased for $1,000,000 by Godolphin
HIP 199 was the first filly and the first Union Rags yearling to hit the seven figure mark. Out of the young Bernardini mare Zayanna, she is a half sister to up and coming 3 year old filly Point of Honor. Zayanna also boats stakes winner Velvet Mood and three foals to race with all three finding the winner’s circle. Sire Union Rags has really exceeded expectations as a stallion, becoming the heir to the line built by Dixie Union and Dixieland Band. With an exciting, up and coming parents this filly could have a big future. Probably is a Kentucky Oaks prospect for Godolphin.
HIP 258 Colt (War Front x Believe You Can)
Purchased for $2,900,000 by Godolphin
Godolphin continues their Derby dreams in adding this beautiful colt to their barn. Out of 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can, he certainly has a lot to like. Believe You Can has started off her broodmare career well with stakes winner Believe In Royalty. Her second foal has also shown promise. Sire War Front does nothing but boost this colt’s chances to excel anywhere in the world. For several years War Front was considered to be a precocious turf stallion, but with sons War of Will and Omaha Beach he has added his influence to the American dirt courses. On top of a stellar page this yearling is physically flawless. Godolphin will have high hopes with this one.
HIP 274 Colt (Curlin x Bounding)
Purchased for $4,100,000 by Godolphin
One would think that with a price tag of $4.1 million that this colt would be the sale topper. In any other sale maybe, but 2019 was perhaps the best year on record for Keeneland in terms of stock value. This colt is the first foal out of multiple Grade 1 winner and New Zealand Champion Bounding. Her career spanned for three years before being purchased for $1.9 million by Stonestreet. Once relocated to the States she was bred to Stonestreet’s flagship stallion Curlin. Not only was Bounding impressive and tough as nails herself, but her half brother has also been too. That sibling in question is Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck. Anthony Van Dyck has danced every dance and will only continue to add to his resume. Despite being by Curlin, Godolphin will probably aim to try this one on turf first out.
HIP 351 Filly (War Front x Delightful Joy)
Purchased for $1,000,000 by Shadwell
What this filly’s page lacked she made up for physically. She is quite an efficient mover that walks with a purpose, the “wow walk” all horsemen talk about. Her page is still quality being by War Front, but her female side doesn’t quite jump out at you the way some of the other seven figure yearling’s do. Her dam is a Grade 3 winning daughter of Tapit who so far is unproven as a broodmare. The yearling mentioned is her only registered foal. Daughters of Tapit fall into more of the “unknown” category when it comes to broodmares, not having the time yet to prove themselves. Further down the page in the same immediate family you also will find stakes winners Cali Star, Seymourdini, and Ballindaggin. With speed on top and stamina on the bottom this filly could fit in the classic distances.
HIP 368 Filly (Curlin x Dreaming of Julia)
Purchased for $1,050,000 by Shadwell
Nothing gets more Stonestreet bred and raised like this filly. One of the leaders in the breeding industry, Stonestreet really left their mark on this year’s sale. This filly’s pedigree goes back for several generations to Stonestreet horses. Both sire and dam are owned by Stonestreet as well as the grand dam. Dreaming of Julia is an exciting broodmare prospect but has had a slow start. Both foals of racing age have had a few setbacks and have not made a start. This filly could be the one to get Julia on the mark. By Curlin, these two match up perfectly. Dreaming of Julia is a Grade 1 winner and one of the fastest juvenile fillies in recent history. Her two half siblings, Dream Pauline and Atreides, are also speed machines. Grand dam Dream Rush was also a Grade 1 winning sprinter in her day. What the female side lacks in stamina Curlin will certainly make up for it. Shadwell was thrilled to purchase this filly and have already named her Malathaat.
HIP 382 Colt (American Pharoah x Escampette)
Purchased for $1,300,000 by Jamie McCalmont (agent)
This big bodied American Pharoah colt kicked off a very illustrious session 3. Out of an unplaced dam, you have to go back a couple generations to find what you are looking for. This colt’s third dam is none other than blue hen Aquilegia. Aquilegia was quietly one of the best broodmares in the 1990’s and 2000’s. A full sister to Champion Althea, she produced two important broodmares. To her credit she produced the mare Alittlebitearly, dam of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern. She also produced Amelia, dam of a staggering five stakes winners and a Breeders’ Cup runner up. Even if it is in the third generation this colt has plenty of back class. Being by a Triple Crown winner doesn’t hurt either. Jamie McCalmont purchased the colt for M.V. Magnier and other partners.
HIP 420 Filly (Medaglia d’Oro x Gloryzapper)
Purchased for $1,100,000 by New River Equine
There isn’t a better time to purchase a Medaglia d’Oro foal than now as he just keeps getting better with age. That being said, there is no hotter broodmare sire at the moment than Ghostzapper. This filly has both and is out of a fast Grade 3 winner. Not all star race mares go on to be great broodmares, so when looking for a potentially great producer these are the kinds of mares you look to. Not a superstar but was productive at the highest levels. Most of the time a star can never duplicate themselves. Talented mares often can. This filly has a perfect pedigree to get Gloryzapper off to a head start as a broodmare. This is her first foal and she is worth every bit of the price tag.
HIP 428 Colt (Curlin x Got Lucky)
Purchased for $1,000,000 by Repole Stables, St. Elias, and M.V. Magnier
Another Curlin colt from an illustrious female family. Out of Grade 1 winner Got Lucky, this yearling has a page that stands out. His dam was a top level performer that excelled at multiple tracks across the country. His second dam, Malka, had a great start to her broodmare career that was unfortunately cut short due to cancer. Third dam is blue hen Get Lucky who went on to produce Grade 1 winners and top broodmares of her own. Graded stakes winners Girolamo, Imagining, Accelerator, Cyrus Alexander, Brethren, Bluegrass Cat, Dramedy, and Kentucky Derby Winner Super Saver all descended from Get Lucky. Get Lucky is also a full sister to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Winner Rhythm. Speed and stamina will combine to give this horse a huge dose of class. Probably joins Todd Pletcher’s barn.
HIP 472 Colt (Medaglia d’Oro x Keen Pauline)
Purchased for $1,200,000 by Ben McElroy (agent)
Pulpit is another stallion that translates very well as a broodmare sire. This colt’s dam was speed oriented and a graded stakes winner. His second dam is Stonestreet flagship mare Grand Pauline. Graded stakes winners Insta Erma and Doneraile Court also hail from this female family. By the ever popular Medaglia d’Oro, this colt’s pedigree speaks for itself. It has everything a buyer could hope for when purchasing a top level colt. Purchased privately for Qatar Racing.
HIP 485 Filly (Empire Maker x Lady Pewitt)
Purchased for $2,000,000 by Shawn Dugan (agent)
Empire Maker has returned to America with a bang and has sired several fantastic crops. This filly is no exception and was one of the most popular offerings in the sale. Out of Lady Pewitt, this filly is a half sister to stakes winner Danzatrice and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Winner Jaywalk. Lady Pewitt has five foals of racing age and all five have won. To further add to a great pedigree, you will find this filly’s third dam is La Paz. La Paz was a top broodmare in her day producing stakes winners Mission Impazible, Forest Camp, Spanish Empire, and Kiddari. Push all of that aside and this filly was worth her price based on looks alone. Physically she is absolutely stunning. Everything about her was correct and no hair was out of place during the sale. She also has the kindest eyes you will ever find on a filly. Her sire is known for his kindness and her siblings were also known to be easy to work with. While in the ring she was loving on the handler and minding her manners. This filly’s level of intelligence is staggering. $2,000,000 for all things considered is a bargain.
HIP 498 Filly (American Pharoah x Leslie’s Lady)
Purchased for $8,200,000 by Whisper Hill Farm
There isn’t much you can say about this one that hasn’t already been said. This filly has been one of the most widely covered yearlings in recent history. The darling of this year’s sale, her photos were plastered all over the news before and after she went through the ring. You know the pedigree, but it was exciting to see how beautiful she is physically. Not too big not too small, this filly was perfect and vetted the exact same way. Out of all the foals Leslie’s Lady has produced this girl is the one that resembles sister Beholder the most. The similarities are uncanny and the two could almost be twins. With American Pharoah’s early success on a sire this filly was absolutely priceless. Many fans were trying to guess the over/under at $5 million with most opting for over. She went over all right, soaring up to $8.2 million to become the most expensive yearling filly ever sold at the Keeneland sale. She was the most expensive yearling period in the last ten years. Buyer Mandy Pope was mesmerized by her and absolutely had to take her home. She hung tough and won the bidding war over Godolphin, who would not go higher than $8 million. As for her future? Mandy sends most of her horses to Ralph Nicks, Tom Amoss, or Steve Amussen, but there has been some chatter that she may strike a deal with Bob Baffert.
HIP 519 Colt (Pioneerof the Nile x Magical World)
Purchased for $2,100,000 by E5 Racing
If you want a yearling out of a rock solid female family this colt was a cannot miss. Dam Magical World is one of the “now” broodmares. Of three foals to race all three have won including exciting 2 year old Magic Dance and top 3 year old filly Guarana. Everything she has produced has been of exceptional quality, and all have been by different stallions. This colt’s second dam is none other than Breeders’ Cup Distaff Winner Pleasant Home. Pleasant Home of course hails from the royal Phipps family of Our Country Place. This female family is one of the greatest in recent history and rarely turns up at the sales. Out of the late Pioneerof the Nile who is very much in demand, this colt was highly sought after for many reasons.
HIP 920 Colt (Union Rags x Miss Squeal)
Purchased for $1,000,000 by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, and Madaket Stables
Union Rags has rose to a surprising level as a stallion. Many had modest hope for him starting out but he has so far exceeded expectations. His second seven figure yearling of the sale is this physically impressive colt. Although his first two generations may be light on graded stakes quality, they are heavy at producing winners. Nearly every foal from the first two mares has been a winner and produced a high BSF. His third dam is top producer Dream Deal, a half sister to Belmont Stakes Winner Creme Fraiche. Blue hen Clear Mandate was Dream Deal’s greatest accomplishment as a broodmare. Grade 1 winners Romantic Vision and To the Victory also trace back to Dream Deal. This colt is loaded with both stamina and plenty off class on both sides. With these connections, he could end up at any barn across the country.
HIP 1062 Colt (Candy Ride x Always a Princess)
Purchased for $1,000,000 by Speedway Stable
Rarely will you ever see a seven figure yearling in session 5 but as stated before this was no ordinary sale. Candy Ride has been one of the best yet under-appreciated stallions of recent memory so it was very exciting to see him get one at a top price. Out of multiple graded stakes winner Always a Princess, this colt has a pedigree that will translate well on both turf and dirt. His bloodlines are extremely exotic and could excite anyone. Second dam Gabriellina Giof raced all over the world and was just as successful as a broodmare. Aside from Always a Princess, she also produced multiple Grade 1 winner Gabby’s Golden Gal who has excelled in Japan as a broodmare herself. This female family is popular all over the world and is fantastic to breed to anyone anywhere. If this colt is successful on the track and has a future as a stallion, he will outcross with any mare brought to him.