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Five Seven-Figure Yearlings Highlight Keeneland Sale Opener

hip 131
Five yearlings commanded seven-figure prices during Monday’s opening session of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Leading the way was the $1.65 million paid by Shadwell Estate Company for a colt by Distorted Humor, the sale-topping colt is the first foal of Juddmonte Spinster (G1) stakes winner Mushka, by Empire Maker.

“He has a good pedigree, nice conformation, and he fit well into our program,” said Rick Nichols, Vice President and General Manager of Shadwell’s United States operation. Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai, Shadwell was the session’s leading buyer, purchasing four yearlings for $3,800,000.

The colt was sold by Eaton Sales, agent, the day’s leading consignor, selling 11 yearlings for $5,130,000.

Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm owner John Sikura partnered with Bruce Lunsford to pay $1.3 million for a half-sister to Bodemeister, winner of the Arkansas Derby (G1) and second to I’ll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1). Consigned by Brookdale Sales, agent for Audley Farm Equine, the filly is by Smart Strike out of the graded stakes-winning mare Untouched Talent.

Bob Baffert, who trained Bodemeister, confirmed that he will train the filly.

“She’s a really nice filly, and she’s staying in America, which is good. So many good fillies have left,” he said.

A.P Sonata, a filly from the last crop of leading sire A.P. Indy, was purchased for $1.1 million by Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm.

“She was gorgeous, she was my pick of the sale,” said Pope, “Being the last of the A.P. Indy’s made her more valuable.”

Consigned by Mill Ridge Sales, agent, the filly is out of Arlington-Washington Lassie (G3) winner Moonlight Sonata, and is a half-sister to graded stakes winners Wilburn and Beethoven.

On Monday night, Keeneland sold ­­75 yearlings for $30,290,000, for an average of $403,867 and a median of $350,000. Keeneland changed the September Sale format this year, opening with one select session rather than two select sessions as in 2011. As a result, there are no comparable figures for 2011. Cumulatively, during the two select sessions in 2011, 129 horses sold for $45,600,000, for an average of $353,488 and a median of $300,000.

Monday’s five million-dollar yearlings surpassed the three sold during last year’s two-day select sale.

“It was a good horse sale,” said Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson. “Average and median were up, and the not-sold rate was within two percent of last year. Our buyers literally came from everywhere.”

A half-brother to 2012 TVG Acorn (G1) and Test (G1) stakes winner Contested brought a final bid of $1.05 million from Jane B. Dunn. Dunn reported that she bought the War Front colt for a group of American buyers that includes longtime owner Adele Dilschneider. The colt was consigned by Claiborne Farm, agent.

Chuck and Maribeth Sandford paid $1 million for a half-brother to Paynter, winner of the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth in July.

“We were the underbidders on his brother, Paynter, so we’re glad we got him,” said trainer Patrick Byrne, who trained 2012 Florida Derby (G1) winner Take Charge Indy for the Sandfords and will train this colt. “He’s well balanced; he screams racehorse and we hope to have some luck with him.”

Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, the colt is by Street Cry (IRE) out of Tizso, a sister to Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner and sire Tiznow. In addition to Paynter, the colt is a half-brother to Cinema Handicap (G3) winner Tiz West and stakes winner Tizakitty.

“This was the big one for us tonight,” said Chuck Sandford. “There were three or four we wanted, but he was the first to come up. We paid a little more than we wanted, but if you want to play you got to pay. Hopefully he’s going to be our next (Kentucky) Derby horse.”

Monday’s Session Topper, hip No. 131/Keeneland photo