The overwhelming message coming from the Thoroughbred marketplace in recent months has been that if one wanted the full attention of buyers, one had better bring an offering with beyond exceptional credentials into the auction arena.
Fred and Nancy Mitchell’s Clarkland Farm knows a thing or two about producing horses that crash through top barriers. And during Wednesday’s session of the Keeneland September yearling sale, an offering from their resident blue hen broodmare shattered the glass ceiling that had been hanging over the industry’s bellwether auction.
A bay colt by the late sire Scat Daddy and a half sibling to champion Beholder and sire Into Mischief shook the restraint right out of shoppers during the third select Book 1 session, selling for $3 million to Coolmore Stud’s M.V. Magnier.
Consigned and bred by Clarkland Farm, the colt is out of the farm’s top producer Leslie’s Lady and became the highest priced horse to sell at the September sale since Mr. Besliu brought $4.2 million in 2010 as well as the highest priced offering Clarkland has ever sold at public auction.
“Very surprised. I thought he might be the highest price of the sale but I thought $2 million might catch him at the most,” said an emotional Fred Mitchell, who paused multiple times to catch his composure following his operation’s blockbuster result. “We were hoping to get $1.5 million for him. And to double that is unbelievable.”
With only two horses breaking the seven-figure barrier during the first two days, buyers were making it clear there would be competitive bidding in that $500,000-$900,000 range, but would put the breaks on from there. In addition to bearing a striking resemblance to his future Hall of Fame half sister, the Scat Daddy colt was the picture of composure since arriving on the grounds, sparking a protracted bidding battle that jumped in $50,000 and $100,000 increments.
As the board climbed from $2 million to $2.8 million in matter of seconds, representatives of Coolmore laid down the winning bid from the back walking ring.
“He’s a brother to an exceptional race horse (Beholder), you won’t see many better than her, and also a brother to another top colt,” said Magnier, who added the Scat Daddy colt would likely be campaigned in Europe. “Very good mover, very good looking, very good family.”
Added Mitchell, “I don’t think anybody can have the disposition this colt has got and the conformation he’s got and get a better individual. He took five and a half days of showing and never missed a beat. The way he moved, he was like he was on air. He was striding out unbelievable.”
Shortly after Mitchell walked arm in arm with his team back towards the barns, another well pedigreed, impeccable looking youngster took the board to seven figures again. A War Front colt out of the multiple Grade-I winning mare Love and Pride sold to Shadwell Estate Company for $1.3 million.
Consigned by Four Star Sales, the War Front colt is the second foal out of Love and Pride, who was purchased by Borges Torrealba Holdings for $4.9 million at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton November sale.
“The pedigree speaks for itself and he was a great, cool horse,” said Kerry Cauthen of Four Star Sales. “He’s a late (May) foal and has so much upside to him. He was just a great individual and acted like one.
“The horses make consignors and we get lucky by getting to see them and having the breeders we have. We thought the horse was worth all of that and more maybe but I think that was a very fair price for both sides. But you never expect, you’re always glad and appreciative.”