Keeneland Day 1 average up 49%

An A.P. Indy colt out of Zenyatta’s G1 winning half-sister Balance (Thunder Gulch) got the Keeneland September Yearling Sale off to a roaring start on Sunday evening when selling for $4.20 million.

Consigned by Mill Ridge Sales, the colt sparked a dramatic bidding war that saw Miami businessman Benjamin Leon outlast trainer Bob Baffert who was representing owner Kaleem Shah.

Leon was attending his first thoroughbred auction and was seated with J. J. Pletcher, the father of Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.  “We thought he was the very best horse in the sale and we did not want to let him go,” Leon said.  “He’s got the depth and pedigree to become a superstar.  He’s just about perfect.  We’re thrilled we were able to get him.”

It was the highest price since the heady days of the 2006 September sale.  “He is obviously a spectacular individual and a great mover,” Todd Pletcher said.  “He has a great presence about him, and obviously from a family that’s as live as a family can be right now.”

The session-topper helped boost the Day 1 average by nearly 49% to $347,319.  “We’re encouraged with how things went,” Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell said.  “The pavilion was filled with people who were bidding and clearly enjoying the night.  There was electricity in the air and our hope is that this momentum continues.”

The Day 1 leader is the first foal from Balance, a G1 winner of the Santa Anita Oaks, Las Virgenes Stakes and Santa Margarita Invitational.  Her accomplishments have since been eclipsed by younger half-sister Zenyatta who sports a perfect 18-for-18 record and $6.25 million in earnings.

No other yearling was able to break the seven-figure barrier, although a well-related Giant’s Causeway – Spunoutacontrol (Wild Again) colt came close when attracting a $950,000 bid from Baffert.  Consigned by Lane’s End, the colt is out of a half-sister to successful sires Tale of the Cat (Storm Cat), Minardi (Boundary) and the dam of Johannesburg (Hennessy).

Lane’s End also offered an $800,000 Bernardini three-quarter brother to G1 2000 Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Status (A.P. Indy).  He was purchased by Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estates.  As a broodmare, Secret Status has produced the recently retired Dunkirk (Unbridled’s Song).  He was the $3.7 million Keeneland September topper in 2007 and went on to finish second in the 2009 Belmont Stakes and Florida Derby.

Shadwell Estate also secured a Distorted Humor rig out of the Lane’s End draft for $700,000.  He is from the stakes-placed Oneofacat (Deputy Minister), a half-sister to Swettenham Stud’s champion juvenile Hold That Tiger (Storm Cat) and G1 Belmont Stakes winner Editor’s Note (Forty Niner).

The top-priced filly was a $685,000 daughter of Unbridled’s Song and G1 mare Soul Search (A.P. Indy).  Her second dam Solar Colony (Pleasant Colony) is a full sister to the dam of Canadian G1 winning sire Changeintheweather (Gone West) who stands at Merlo Downs in Queensland.

The September Sale runs through to September 26.