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Maktoums Rule Keeneland With September Yearling Buys

Author: Michele MacDonald


Their highnesses Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya strolled through only one day of the Keeneland September Sale, but their smiling enthusiasm sparked the entire Godolphin team to raise its buying participation at the world’s largest yearling marketplace to a level not seen in a dozen years. Not far behind was Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s Shadwell Estate, and between the Dubai royal stables, much of the cream of America’s yearling crop was skimmed up to carry the Maktoums’ colours in either Europe or the United States. Leading the way among the 23 yearlings purchased by Godolphin was a colt from the first crop of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah who is the second foal of the Stakes winning and multiple Graded Stakes placed Indian Charlie mare Kindle.

The imposing chestnut stood like a massive statue in the auction ring as bids flew both inside the pavilion and outside in the back ring. At the end of the duel of dollars, Sheikh Mohammed had turned back Coolmore’s M V Magnier to secure the colt, who was consigned by Peter O’Callaghan’s Woods Edge Farm. “I am very happy,” Sheikh Mohammed said, beaming, as friends and advisors crowded around him in a scene much like many others that had taken place in the years before the global economic crisis. Just as happy as Sheikh Mohammed, and perhaps even more so, were the many breeders and consignors who benefitted from the Maktoums’ purchasing power. “I’m just very grateful that Sheikh Mohammed wanted to buy him,” exclaimed O’Callaghan, the Irish native who said the colt was the best he had presented during his 17 years in America.

“When Sheikh Mohammed saw him today, his eyes lit up. I just had a feeling that he was going to try hard to buy him. It took a monumental effort to outbid Coolmore, I’d say. It’s the perfect scenario for any of us; that’s what we all dream of, that two of the great racing powers get stuck into your horse and go at it. We were just lucky that it happened for us. “Any time we can have those principals here, be it Sheikh Mohammed or Sheikh Hamdan, it just does everything for the sales,” he added. “It changes the atmosphere. It gives their advisors more confidence to go on and buy at a greater level.” Trainer John Gosden, who joined with Anthony Stroud and other long time advisors in organising Godolphin’s buying, said Sheikh Mohammed’s presence ‘galvanised’ the team, which continued purchasing throughout the four sessions of Book 1 and added another colt from Book 2.

Gosden particularly praised the American Pharoah colt, whose international female family includes Australian Group Three winner Tonopah and Irish highweight Prudent Manner. “He is a lovely horse, a beautiful horse, by an amazingly talented racehorse. You could not but like him. It’s not easy to breed horses like that,” Gosden declared. No decision was immediately made in the wake of the purchase about where the colt would be trained and raced, and Gosden indicated that Sheikh Mohammed would ultimately decide the destinations for the American Pharoah colt and all the other yearlings. On hand for the top purchase and eight others made during the first day of the sale were trainers Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor, former Godolphin Racing Manager Simon Crisford and former European juvenile trainer David Loder.

The Godolphin team kept a sharp focus on the best of the offspring of its leading Americanbased sire, Medaglia D’Oro, ultimately buying three colts and four fillies by the stallion who has made his presence felt worldwide. Of that group of seven, the top two colts and leading filly could have Europe in their future as they were produced, respectively, by American Champion Turf Female Dayatthespa; Grade Two winner Moulin De Mougin, a half sister to the dam of multiple Group One winner Roaring Lion, and Esprit De Vie, a full sister to Irish Oaks placed, Group Two winner Princess Highway and a half sister to Group One winner Royal Diamond and multiple Group One placed Mad About You. Godolphin’s top filly purchase could also be travelling across the Atlantic as, while she is a half sister to Kentucky Derby winner and Godolphin stallion Nyquist, she is by exceedingly successful European turf sire War Front.

“She’s a stunningly good looking filly. She’s been bought to race and to be a broodmare,” Gosden said of the yearling bred and offered by Hinkle Farms. “I would think she’s most likely to go to Europe.” Godolphin bought two other yearlings by War Front, a colt and a filly. More American oriented yearlings, judging by pedigree, included two colts by Into Mischief and colts by Curlin and Tapit. The Tapit colt is a half brother to Grade One winner Wickedly Perfect, while the Curlin colt is out of a Stakes winning full sister to Grade One winner Taris. Also joining the Godolphin team will be a pair of Uncle Mo fillies as Gosden and Stroud continued with the policy established last year, in the wake of the departure of former Godolphin bloodstock advisor John Ferguson, of patronising the offspring of a variety of Coolmore stallions.

One of the Uncle Mo fillies is out of a multiple Graded Stakes winning half sister to American Turf Champion Mare Lady Eli and she could stay in America to race, Stroud said. In addition to the main Godolphin purchases, another four colts were acquired under the name of Godolphin Japan, bringing the total for Godolphin to 27 yearlings over the first five days of the 13 day September sale. While Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin were the big stories of most high quality part of the sale, which rose upward across the board, Sheikh Hamdan also made a huge impact. The Shadwell team, which had led this sale in buying during the previous two years, was nearly as active as Godolphin, buying 19 yearlings, although they kept a lower profile, remaining in a private room without elaborating on their purchases with media.

Leading the Shadwell acquisitions were a colt and a filly by War Front and a colt by Medaglia D’Oro, with all three possessing pedigrees oriented toward European racing. Both the War Fronts are from the family of Group One winners and Irish highweights Yesterday and Quarter Moon, with the filly out of a Galileo Group placed three quarter sister to that duo. Shadwell also bought another War Front filly who is a full sister to Coolmore’s Group One placed Stakes winner Whitecliffsofdover from the family of the late sire Pulpit. The Medaglia D’Oro colt acquired by Shadwell was produced by New Approach’s Stakes winning daughter Bunairgead. Shadwell did not focus only on obvious European bloodlines, however, as the stable bought two colts and a filly by Tapit, the top American sire who has been most successful with dirt runners.

That trio included a colt out of Horse of the Year Azeri’s Graded Stakes winning daughter Wine Princess and a filly out of a half sister to international champion and sire Giant’s Causeway. Other Shadwell purchases included a trio of colts by Into Mischief, led by the half brother to Al Maktoum Challenge Round I and Round II winner Mendip, who finished third in the 2010 UAE Derby and now stands at stud in Turkey, and colts by Curlin, Pioneerof the Nile and Kitten’s Joy.

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27 Sep 2018
Issue Number: Issue 648
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