LEXINGTON, KY (Jan. 11, 2016) – Noted breeder and owner Virginia Kraft Payson spent $1.7 million to acquire three of the four-highest priced horses sold during Monday’s opening session of the 58th Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale, which recorded double-digit growth in average and median prices. Payson’s purchases were topped by the Grade 1 stakes-placed mare Summer Solo, in foal to Ghostzapper, sold for $700,000; all were consigned by Denali Stud, agent, for the Part Dispersal of the Estate of Sarah J. Leigh.
Leigh, a theatrical agent who died in August 2015, had continued the successful international racing and breeding operation of her father, Gerald Leigh, who died in 2002. Leigh’s highly regarded program bred such standouts as 1994 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) and European Horse of the Year Barathea (IRE), European champion 3-year-old filly Bosra Sham and classic winner Gossamer (GB).
The session-topping Summer Solo is a 5-year-old mare by Arch out of French stakes winner Summer Solstice (IRE), by Caerleon. Payson also spent $550,000, the day’s second-highest price, to acquire the next horse in the ring, Summer Sweet, a 2-year-old half-sister to Summer Solo, by More Than Ready. Payson reported that Summer Sweet would be sent to trainer Christophe Clement. Summer Solo and Summer Sweet are half-sisters to stakes winners Summer Breezing and Adirondack Summer. Both were purchased in the name of Payson Stud.
Payson also went to $450,000 to acquire a yearling Arch filly out of Seeking Atlantis, by Seeking the Gold. A half-sister to graded stakes-placed winner Seeking Her Glory, the yearling is from the family of multiple Grade 3 winner Atlantic Ocean. Payson said the filly will go to Arthur B. Hancock III’s Stone Farm near Paris, Ky.
“I raced against Gerald Leigh for years, and I really wanted to have one of his families,” Payson said after buying the yearling, her first purchase of the day. “I knew the (filly’s) family and that’s what I liked about her. I have four broodmares, but they’re all the same bloodlines and I needed some diversification.”
The Leigh Dispersal contributed to significant increases in session results over opening day of the 2015 January Sale.
During the session, Keeneland sold 182 horses for $13,631,200, up 8.12 percent from last year’s $12,607,200 for 204 horses. The average of $74,897 rose 21.19 percent above the $61,800 recorded in 2015, while the median of $39,500 increased 12.86 percent from $35,000 from last year.
“The figures were very solid today,” Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell said. “We had five horses sell for more than the top price from the opening session last year ($400,000), bolstered by the three horses in the Leigh Dispersal. Quality sells. If you bring the right product to market, you are fully rewarded. You saw that in 2015 and so far in 2016. People are willing to spend good money on horses if they have some quality.”
Early in the session, Cromwell Bloodstock’s Gatewood Bell paid $450,000 on behalf of an undisclosed client for a yearling colt by leading sire War Front who is a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Super Ninety Nine and stakes winner Elusive Horizon. Consigned by Greenfield Farm (B. D. Gibbs Farm), agent, the colt is out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Exogenetic, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Exogenous.
“(He’s a) War Front (with a) lovely profile, and he’s going to grow into a nice horse,” Bell said. “(He’s a) May foal, nice walk to him. I love May foals. Usually you get a little discount on them, but I don’t think we did on this one. Time will tell.”
Russell noted the sale of the day’s four highest-priced horses marked the conclusion of two notable eras in horse racing.
“Mr. Leigh was a great supporter of Keeneland, and Sarah was, too,” Russell said. “It’s a fitting end. The War Front colt was part of Jerre Paxton’s Northwest Farms Dispersal that started at the September Yearling Sale and continued at the November Breeding Stock Sale. Although we’re happy the market reacted favorably to the quality of their horses, it’s sad to see the end of these operations.”
Also on Monday, Paris Bikini, a 4-year-old half-sister to recent Turnback the Alarm (G3) winner America, sold as a racing or broodmare prospect to WinStar Farm for $425,000. Bluewater Sales, agent, consigned Paris Bikini, a daughter of Bernardini out of the Fasliyev mare Lacadena. The filly is from the family of Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour and Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Blush With Pride.
“Beautiful mare,” WinStar General Manager David Hanley said. “Good price for her. Big family; half-sister to America. She’s full of quality so we’re very happy. (The plan is to) breed out of her. She fits all of our good horses.”
Selling to Castleton Lyons for $350,000 was My Limit, dam of recent La Brea (G1) winner Birdatthewire. Bill Murphy, agent, consigned My Limit, a 15-year-old daughter of Wagon Limit in foal to leading sire Giant’s Causeway.
“She’s in foal to Giant’s Causeway,” Jamie Frost, Castleton Lyon’s equine manager, said. “It’s exciting, you know. I thought it was a good price.”
Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, was the leading consignor, selling 34 horses for $3,243,000.
The January Sale continues through Friday. Sessions begin daily at 10 a.m. ET. The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.