TRC’s weekly industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
Sheikh Mohammed returns to lead the Keeneland buying barrage
North America: The reformatted Keeneland September Yearling Sale got off to a strong start this year with many high-profile international figures attending the Lexington sale.
The opening day did not disappoint, with the auction house reporting that 138 horses sold for $48,620,000, for an average of $352,319 and a $260,000 median, with a 34.9 percent buyback rate.
Godolphin – with Sheikh Mohammed present for the first time in a decade - topped the buyers’ list with 11 yearlings purchased for $7.28 million: nine for their flagship operation and two for Godolphin Japan.
The aforementioned operation went to a session-topping $2.2 million to purchase a colt from the first crop of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, whose 12 yearlings sold on Monday for a total of $6.335 million.
That number was eclipsed the following day, when a colt by War Front became the most expensive Thoroughbred yearling to sell at public auction anywhere in the world this year.
The colt - consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency out of G1 winner Streaming – commanded $2.4 million from Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier. While a War Front filly, a half-sister to 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, sold for $1.75 million to Newmarket trainer John Gosden. She was consigned by Hinkle Farms.
The third day saw seven yearlings sold for $1 million or more to bring the sale total to 20 millionaires, with an American Pharoah progeny again topping the session. Larry Best’s Oxo Equine acquired the colt for $1.4 million form Ed and Sharon Hudon’s Sierra Farm, which had purchased the mare Bsharpsonata when carrying the American Pharoah colt in utero for $375,000 from Woodford Thoroughbreds’ consignment last year.
From the 742-head catalogue, for the first three days, Keeneland sold 457 horses for $167,338,000, compared with $149,414,000 paid for 483 head through the same period in 2017.
This year’s sale has averaged $366,166, with a $280,000 median, compared with the $309,346 average and $220,000 median in 2017. The cumulative RNA rate is 27.5 percent, with 173 lots not sold.
New ‘interim chair’ takes the helm at the BHA
Europe: Atholl Duncan has been appointed to take over as interim British Horseracing Authority (BHA) chairman after Steve Harman steps down from the role on 12 November.
Duncan, an experienced non-executive director in sports organisations and the current senior independent director of the BHA board, was appointment by the BHA’s Nominations Committee. He previously served as a non-executive director of Sportscotland for nine years, sat on the Scottish Sports Council Trust and Hibernian Football Club Community Foundation, as well as serving as a trustee of the Caledonian Racing Society.
The appointment is on an ongoing basis with no fixed term while the BHA and its members continue constructive discussion regarding the make-up of the BHA board and the remit of the chairman.
“It is a great honour for me to be appointed as chair of the BHA,” said Duncan. “My immediate focus will be to continue to work closely with everyone across horseracing to shape the right improvements we need to meet the many challenges facing our sport.
Stepping up a Breeders’ Cup relationship
North America: Tito’s Handmade Vodka has expanded its commercial partnership with the Breeders’ Cup.
Beginning with this year’s event, the Texan distillery becomes the official vodka of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and the title sponsor of the G1 $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 2 at Churchill Downs.
Tito has been a partner of the Breeders’ Cup since 2013, and the enhanced multi-year agreement will incorporate a full range of racing, marketing, entertainment, hospitality and charitable initiatives.
French alliance for Taylor Made Sales
North America: Taylor Made Sales Agency and French stud farm Haras de Gouffern have announced an ‘exclusive partnership’, which will see both parties offer their clients an opportunity to maximize their horses’ value and create international opportunities.
From 2019 onwards, a yearling consignment will be presented annually at Arqana’s Deauville sales, which Eric Hoyeau, chief executive of Arqana, believes is “in line with our strategy of turning the Deauville sales into a global event”.
The alliance also includes International Thoroughbred Consultants, a bloodstock agency that represents the American stud in France and the Middle East, an agreement that Taylor Made reciprocates in the U.S.
The new team to run the Tote
Europe: The Alizeti Group, the venture that bought a 25 percent stake in the Tote from bookmaker Betfred in June, has announced its management team.
Among the appointments are betting and racing industry veterans Ian Penrose, strategic and operational adviser, and Jamie Hart, a former Coral trading director who will be the head of product. Other hires include Susannah Gill, formerly of the Arena Racing Company and Betfair, as director of communications and corporate affairs.
Alizeti chief executive Alex Frost said: “We have ambitious plans to grow the Tote, and to achieve this it is essential we build a world-class team of dedicated people who are focused on ensuring it has a successful future.
“I am really excited by the team we are putting together, which has individuals who bring vast experience and expertise from a range of sectors.”
Road to the Kentucky Derby: what the 2019 version looks like
North America: Churchill Downs has announced the schedule for the 2019 Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, the series of select races that award a sliding scale of points to the top four finishers.
As with 2018, the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve will have a 19-race Prep Season, starting with the the G3 $150,000 Iroquois at Churchill Downs tomorrow, followed a 16-race Championship Series that includes G1s the Florida Derby, the Santa Anita Derby and the Arkansas Derby; as well as G2s the UAE Derby, the Louisiana Derby, the Wood Memorial and the Blue Grass.
This is the seventh consecutive year that Churchill Downs has used a points system to determine entrants for the Kentucky Derby.
The G1 Longines Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies also has a Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, which spans 30 races with a 15-race Prep Season and 15 Championship Series races.
2,000 winners and counting
North America: U.S trainer Kathleen O’Connell chalked up the 2,000th win of her career when 2-year-old Wishful Quality won her debut in a six-furlong maiden special weight race at Delaware Park.
O’Connell achieved the milestone 37 years after she posted her first victory, with Kim’s Lucky Spot at Detroit Racecourse in 1981.
Cirrus des Aigles stars in retraining of racehorses day
Europe: Just a few weeks after the first Retraining of Racehorses Day at Deauville, Au-Dela Des Pistes will hold its second event at Chantilly Racecourse tomorrow afternoon (Saturday, September 15), supported by Dynavena, which produces flaked food for horses.
Demonstrations in polo, show-jumping and dressage will take place, all with ex-racehorses, in addition to a parade of champions, which will feature the charity’s equine ambassador, Cirrus des Aigles.
The idea is to show the public and the racing industry the potential of ex-racehorses, as well as the different possible ways of taking care of them.
For further information, contact Marine Thevenet at email@example.com
Owner and breeder award winners
North America: The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s (TOBA) 33rd annual national awards dinner was held at Kroger Field’s Woodford Reserve Club in Kentucky this week.
Bob Edwards, of e Five Racing, was named TOBA’s National Owner of the Year, and Charlotte Weber was named the National Breeder of the Year. George Strawbridge received the Robert N Clay Award, which recognises a member of the Thoroughbred community who has made an outstanding contribution to preserving land for equine use.
Equine recipients were Mended, who won the 2017 Claiming Crown Jewel Stakes, honored with Claiming Crown Horse of the Year, and Skyeler Voss’s Argyle, winner of the Rood & Riddle Sport Horse of the Year.