The economic correction of 2008 revealed who had the resolve to remain devoted to the Thoroughbred breeding industry. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay is among those who maintained his commitment, and the past couple of sessions of the Keeneland September yearling sale have seen Flay richly rewarded.
One day after selling a Tapit filly out of his Grade III winner Super Espresso for $1 million, Flay's Tiznow filly out of his mare Countess Lemonade went to Stonereath Stud for $1.1 million, adding some jazz to a day that featured middle-market strength in place of fireworks.
Flay's involvement in Thoroughbred racing has been increasingly steadfast over the years as his stable has boasted multiple graded stakes winners, and he serves on the Breeders' Cup board of directors.
He viewed his purchase of Countess Lemonade for $1,146,159 at the 2010 Tattersalls sale as an opportunity to buy into what he called one of the best families in the stud book. Peter Berglar and his father, Dr. Christoph Berglar, of Stonereath concurred, making the mare's first foal one of two yearlings to crack the seven-figure mark Wednesday.
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"I think what that proves is if you buy quality race horses and mares, that the blood continues on," said Flay, who boards his broodmares at Arthur Hancock's Stone Farm and consigned his fillies through that operation. "I'm in this for the long run.
"These fillies are carrying the bloodlines, and as you can see, they produce beautiful babies. It was very hard (to make the decision to sell) but ... unlike some people here who are lucky enough to be able to hold onto everything they breed, I can't do that. I have to sell. I love to race, but I have to sell some things that are good as well."
Where last year's third day proved the most lucrative in terms of gross receipts from the four select Book One sessions, Wednesday's action was bullish in the $400,000 to $500,000 range but didn't have that level of breakout horses.
While the gross for the third day was down 29.30 percent compared with the corresponding session in 2013, the overall numbers are holding steady. The cumulative gross of $100,568,000 from 345 head sold is down 9.81 percent from last year, but the average ($291,501) and median ($250,000) remain up by 5.61 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
Seven horses have sold for $1 million or more to this point compared to 13 at this time last year.
Five of the seven $1 million-plus babies this year are fillies, and a daughter of Darley sire Dubawi with global appeal was the standard bearer Wednesday. The bay filly sold to the Niarchos family's Flaxman Holdings for $1.45 million, making her the second highest-priced yearling, behind the Unbridled's Song colt that went for $1.6 million Tuesday.
Consigned by Lane's End, the filly is out of Group I Epsom Oaks winner Casual Look and will head to Europe to be campaigned.
The final day of the Book One portion of the 13-session sale begins at noon Thursday. The sale then resumes Saturday at 10 a.m.