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Bernardini Colt Brings $1.55 Million at Keeneland on Wednesday

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Brisk business drove across-the-board gains during the third session of Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale on Wednesday.

The session was boosted by the sale of a Bernardini colt for $1.55 million, the second-highest-priced yearling to date in the auction.

Keeneland sold 196 horses on Wednesday for $34,573,000, a 5.34 percent increase from a year ago when 215 yearlings brought $32,819,500. The session average of $176,393 was up 15.55 percent from $152,649 in 2011, while the median rose 11.54 percent from $130,000 to $145,000.

“It was a good horse sale; it was fun at the top,” said Keeneland vice president of sales Walt Robertson.

The RNA, or buy-back, rate for the session was 26.59 percent compared to 23.49 percent last year.

“It is a very tight market,” said Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell. “Consignors are doing an excellent job of trying to appraise their horses. But (the RNA rate) is within an acceptable range.”

Through three days, a total of 457 horses have been sold for $97,103,000, for an average of $212,479 and a median of $150,000. Last year through four sessions (includes two select sessions in 2011 versus one in 2012), 544 horses were sold for $111,176,000, for an average of $204,368 and a median of $170,000.

Irish bloodstock agent Demi O’Byrne purchased the day’s two top-priced yearlings – the Bernardini colt and a colt by Big Brown for $825,000.

The sale-topping Bernardini colt was bought on behalf of the Coolmore partnership of John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor. Out of the Carson City mare Wilshewed, the colt is a half-brother to Grade 1 stakes winner Stormello and My Best Brother, who recorded wins in the Del Mar Derby (G2) and Oceanside Stakes and a second in the La Jolla Handicap (G2) during the recent Del Mar meeting.

O’Byrne said it has not been decided whether the Bernardini colt will race in the United States or be sent to Europe.

Catherine Parke’s Valkyre Stud consigned the colt as agent for longtime clients, Bill and Betty Currin. Bill Currin, a prominent California-based horseman, for many years bred, owned and conditioned his own horses, including Stormello, until health issues prompted him to retire from training. He co-owns My Best Brother with longtime partner Al Eisman.

“It’s a wonderful thing for someone who’s been so devoted to our industry,” Parke said of Currin, whom she credited with planning the mating with Bernardini. “(This colt) is such an unbelievable looking animal, and he has the pedigree. People kept coming back to look at him again and again. There just weren’t any holes in him.”

O’Byrne also signed the ticket for the Big Brown colt, which he said would “probably” be trained by Todd Pletcher.

“Obviously I liked him. He’s a good mover; a very stylish horse,” he said.

Consigned by Warrendale Sales, agent for Whitechurch Bloodstock, the colt is out of the stakes-placed Dehere mare Cold Awakening and a half-brother to Illinois Derby (G2) winner Recapturetheglory.

Shadwell Estate Company Ltd. purchased the day’s third-highest priced yearling, spending $650,000 for a colt by Dynaformer out of graded stakes winner Effectual, by Carson City. The colt, consigned by Three Chimneys Sales, agent for Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, is from the family of graded stakes winners Meter Maid and Lemon Maid.

A colt by Medaglia d’Oro out of Weekend Whim, by Distorted Humor, brought a bid of $600,000 from the Japanese-based J.S. Company Ltd.

Weekend Whim is a full sister to Haskell Invitational (G1) winner Any Given Saturday and half-sister to Cicada Stakes (G3) winner Bohemian Lady. The colt was consigned by Lane’s End, agent.

“He has very nice conformation, and the trainer (Yoshito Yahagi) is very interested in this colt to train in Japan,” said Keisuke Onishi, who signed the ticket on behalf of J.S. Company. Onishi reported that Yahagi currently trains a two-year-old colt by Any Given Saturday.

Keeneland Publicity contributed to this report.

 Hip #469, Bernardini colt/Keeneland photo

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