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Maktoums Rule Keeneland in Flashback to September Sale’s Glory Days as both Godolphin and Shadwell busy

Author: Michele MacDonald

25/09/2017
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As the lyrics of the song that dazzled Broadway proclaimed, everything old seemed new again at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The mighty forces of Godolphin and Shadwell made a huge impact through investments in Books 1 and 2 that, when combined, were the largest put forward by the Maktoum Family at this venue since 2008, before the harshest effects of the global economic crisis. A total of 34 yearlings were purchased by the two powerhouses for $20,540,000.

Sheikh Mohammed’s new bloodstock acquisition team for Godolphin, led by Anthony Stroud and trainer John Gosden, ably assisted by former Godolphin 2yo trainers Eoin Harty and David Lode, bought 17 yearlings, seven sired by horses standing for Coolmore, including three from the last crop of phenomenal late sire Scat Daddy and two by first crop stallion Australia. “We’re trying to buy nice racehorses, it’s as simple as that,” Gosden declared after a déjà vu kind of bidding duel with Coolmore over a chestnut colt by Australia out of a daughter of French Group Two winner Daring Miss, by Sadler’s Wells. Gosden and Godolphin prevailed at $490,000.

Stroud echoed that objective after signing the $650,000 ticket for the last of the three yearlings Godolphin bought by Scat Daddy, a colt from the family of Grade One winner Fantastic Look. “They were all nice, that’s why we had a go on them. He’s an outstanding stallion. He’s done incredibly well in Europe and North America,” Stroud said. Earlier in the sale, Stroud said the Godolphin team ‘would be remiss’ if it did not consider yearlings by Scat Daddy and some of the other Coolmore sires because of the proven ability of their offspring. While the purchases at the first Keeneland September sale since the departure of longtime Godolphin/Darley bloodstock advisor John Ferguson may have been the most intriguing to observers, it was Shadwell, directed on site by Sheikh Hamdan for the sale’s first several days, that made the biggest overall impact.

With a team of advisors including his European racing manager Angus Gold; Stephen Collins and James Lenehan of Derrinstown Stud in Ireland, and Kentucky farm executives Rick Nichols, Gregory Clarke and Jody Dunlap, Sheikh Hamdan also acquired 17 yearlings. While the S h a d w e l l team did not approach the sale with any particular agenda or strategy, Nichols said he had a feeling his boss was determined to take home many nice prospects. By the end of Books 1 and 2, Shadwell had done just that with purchases totaling $12,475,000; the quality of those selections was indicated by the average price of $733,824. “I kind of thought we would be top buyer,” Nichols said with a smile. “It’s getting to be a normal trend.”

Shadwell also topped all buyers at Keeneland in 2016, 2013, 2012 and 2010. Besides, if Sheikh Hamdan decides he likes a yearling, ‘it’s hard for him to be denied,’ Nichols noted. Sheikh Hamdan and his team bid from a private room at Keeneland and were not available for comment on most of their purchases, which were topped by consecutive seven figure purchases from the elite Book 1 single session. 

A big and flashy bay colt by leading American sire Tapit who is the second foal out of Grade One winner and $1,129,709 earner Tiz Miz Sue sold to Shadwell for $2.5 million immediately after Sheikh Hamdan bought a War Front colt out of top level performer Theyskens’ Theory for $1.2 million. Nichols, general manager of Shadwell Farm in Lexington, said Sheikh Hamdan will decide which of the newly purchased yearlings will stay in America to race and which will go to Europe. Based on their pedigrees, it would appear the Tapit is more suited to racing in the United States, whereas the War Front could go either way.

The dam of the War Front colt is a half-sister to American Champion Juvenile and sire Stevie Wonderboy, so obviously he would be a standout prospect in the United States as well as in Europe. Shadwell bought yearlings by several sires who have been successful on both sides of the Atlantic, including two each by Speightstown and Kitten’s Joy. A Speightstown filly out of a half-sister to Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Our New Recruit, purchased for $550,000, was the only filly in the Shadwell group, which included colts by Curlin, City Zip, Bodemeister, Union Rags, and first-crop stallion Cairo Prince.

Nichols, who acquired Grade Two winner and new Shadwell Farm stallion Mohaymen from this sale in 2014 for Sheikh Hamdan, said he hopes many of the yearlings will go to Europe “I like to see him take all he can to Europe because it’s so much easier for him to get to England to see them run. And that’s what it’s all about; him having fun. “It’s very difficult for him to come and see a horse run in America. The more he takes over there, for them to go ahead and do well for him, all the better,” Nichols said. Looking at the Godolphin purchases of 13 colts and four fillies, there seemed to be a broader mix of American and European style pedigrees than had been acquired at this sale in past years.

For example, Godolphin purchased the half-brother to Grade One winner Collected, who notably defeated Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate in the Pacific Classic Stakes last month. That compact, speedy looking chestnut colt was sired by Coolmore’s Lookin At Lucky and cost $300,000; he will likely be kept in America to race along with a $475,000 Uncle Mo filly out of a half-sister to millionaire Mister Marti Gras. Gosden said the Australia colt will be sent to Europe. Others that likely will see the turf in Europe include an $800,000 Scat Daddy colt from the family of Group One performer Muthmir, who was the most expensive of the Godolphin purchases that totaled $8,065,000, ranking second overall through Book 2, and a strongly made $650,000 Dubawi colt out of Grade One winner Icon Project, by Empire Maker.

Godolphin acquired two yearlings by War Front from Book 1: a $550,000 colt out of Tapit’s Grade Three winning daughter War Echo, who is a half-sister to Darley Japan stallion Pyro, and a $500,000 filly out of a Galileo half-sister to 2000 Guineas winner Golan. Two colts by Kentucky Derby winners Orb and Super Saver also were on the Godolphin roster. The $650,000 Orb is from the family of Grade One winners Pure Clan and Sky Diva, while the $625,000 Super Saver descends from undefeated American champion Personal Ensign.

Michele MacDonald
Award winning International Journalist

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