Throughout her racing career, Take Charge Lady did some of her best work at Keeneland, the site of five of her 11 career wins, including her three Grade I triumphs.
Ten years after she last set foot on Keeneland's grounds, Take Charge Lady was responsible for another winning performance when one of her offspring sold for $2.2 million at the Keeneland September yearling sale.
The bay filly was the sales topper Wednesday and was one of five youngsters to reach the seven-figure mark. Her buyer was Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm.
A total of 13 horses have sold for $1 million or more three days into the sale's new extended Book 1 format, the most since 18 yearlings reached the seven-figure mark in 2008.
But on a day that saw a half-sister to champion and leading sire Speightstown bring $1.75 million and a half-brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver go for $1.7 million, it was the athletic-looking filly out of Take Charge Lady who created the most buzz.
She is from the final crop of top sire Indian Charlie, who died in December 2011, and her dam has foaled two Grade I-winning offspring — 2012 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy and this year's Travers Stakes hero, Will Take Charge.
"She is a unique filly, and when you have a unique horse in the ring, I wouldn't say money is no object but if it matches all the scrutiny, they keep bidding," said John Sikura of Hill 'n' Dale Sales, which consigned the Take Charge Lady filly and the half-sibling to Super Saver. "You're buying a daughter of a great racemare who has produced Grade I winners, and that's what we all want to do in the business.
"The market is all about quality and unique offerings, and she is one of those."
With the bidding opening at $200,000, Pope outlasted the likes of Spendthrift Farm owner B. Wayne Hughes to secure her latest high-profile purchase. Pope made headlines last fall when she bought 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace for $10 million at the Fasig-Tipton November sale and Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty for $4.2 million at Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
"She'll be a delight to have and something to go along with Havre de Grace and Plum Pretty after she becomes a famous racehorse," Pope said of the yearling filly. "She'll fit right in with those two. She's absolutely beautiful, a stellar pedigree. We're going to run her in the footsteps of her daddy and her mother and her brothers."
Pope said the filly would head to her farm in Ocala, Fla., to be broken, after which she probably would be sent to Goldmark Farm's training center.
"We were expecting to pay right around $2 million for her," Pope said. "To me she is the standout in the sale as far as the fillies go. We're a little nervous but happy."
Sales officials also were happy after 135 head sold for $41,890,000 on Wednesday.
Though session-to-session statistical comparisons are skewed because Keeneland has spread its select Book 1 portion of the catalog over four days instead of the single session it held last year, the numbers are encouraging.
The cumulative gross of $111,511,000 from 404 horses is up 14.8 percent over 2012 figures to this point. The average of $276,017 is up 29.9 percent over last year, and the median price is $200,000, a 33.33 percent increase.
The rate of horses not sold for the first three days is 27.34 percent, but more than one buyer commented on how difficult it has been to land the quality offerings.
"We've been getting comments from some buyers that they haven't bought yet, and that's good," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "The goal of any sale here is to create (a trickle-down affect) that those who aren't successful in Book 1 go to Book 2 and so on.
"I think peoples' mind-sets have improved as we get further away from (the economic crash of) 2008 and I think the yearlings themselves have helped increase the value. Prized objects cost lots of money."
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.