What’s been happening in the racing industry around the world

The $8.2 million paid for this filly is the highest at Keeneland September Sale since 2006. Photo: Keeneland

The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.


American Pharoah filly goes for $8.2m as big spenders light up Keeneland

A filly by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah who is a half-sister to four-time champion Beholder, G1 winner Mendelssohn and G1 winner and leading sire Into Mischief sold on Wednesday for a mind-boggling $8.2 million, the fourth highest price for a yearling at the Keeneland September Sale.

U.S. breeder Mandy Pope outbid Coolmore and Godolphin to land the filly at the end of a powerhouse day of trade on which eight yearlings brought seven-figure prices in the final session of the three-day premier Book 1 catalog, driving gross sales for the session to more than $65 million and average price to more than $524,855.

The $8.2 million price set a September Sale record for a filly and is the highest price paid at the September Sale since the $11.7 million paid by Sheikh Mohammed for Meydan City in 2006.

This year’s Book 1 - which had already seen Sheikh Mohammed pay $4.1 million on Tuesday for a Curlin colt out of New Zealand champion sprinter Bounding, the most expensive September Sale yearling since 2010 - spanned three days versus a four-day Book 1 in 2018. Cumulatively, 340 horses have grossed $160,463,000, for an average of $471,950 and a median of $355,000. 

A total of 20 yearlings sold for seven figures in Book 1, including seven that brought final bids of $2 million or more.

“I would describe today’s session as the cherry on top of the three days that is Book 1,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. 

Wednesday’s leading buyer with her lone purchase, Pope said the filly would enter training at Whisper Hill’s training center in Florida.

(Click here for an interview with Pope.)

The entire sale, which runs through Sunday, Sept. 22, is streamed live at Keeneland.com

Kew Gardens is Melbourne Cup top weight

Oceania: Aidan O'Brien’s elite stayer Kew Gardens has been assigned the top weight of 58kg for the AU$8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup.

The weights were unveiled on Tuesday for Australia’s two richest handicaps, the Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November and the AU$5.15 million Stella Artois Caulfield Cup. Both races were won by Godolphin runners last year - Cross Counter taking the Melbourne Cup and Best Solution the Caulfield Cup.

With Kew Gardens not nominated for the Caulfield Cup on Saturday, October 19, the joint top weights for the world’s richest turf handicap over a mile and a half are Avilius and Hartnell. 

Cross Counter will carry 57.5kg this year as he bids to become the first horse since Makybe Diva in 2005 to retain his crown.

To view the complete list of Caulfield Cup weights, please click here

To view the complete list of Melbourne Cup weights, please click here

Happiness at Colonial Downs

North America: The first racing season at Colonial Downs in Virginia, USA, for six years exceeded expectations, according to the operators.

Over 36,000 people attended racing events at the 24-day meet, which ended last Saturday, while an additional 6,000 country music fans attended the Old Dominion band concert at the track on September 1.

The HD broadcast reached more than 900 outlets across North America, including 15 million TVG network subscribers.

 Total amount wagered on the races was $17.5 million (an 18 percent increase over 2013) with 15 percent of the wagers placed in Virginia and 85 percent placed outside the state.

Total prize fund was $7.4 million in purses (a 55 percent increase over 2013), and 87 unique jockeys traveled to Virginia for mounts, with trainers coming from 17 different states, including California, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Kentucky, New York and Minnesota.

Colonial Downs Group will run more than 15 days in 2020. Discussions are currently underway to formulate the plan and schedule.

David Hayes returning to Hong Kong

Far East: Australian Hall of Fame trainer David Hayes will return to the Hong Kong ranks for the start of the 2020-21 season.

The senior trainer for Lindsay Park in Australia, Hayes spent a decade in Hong Kong from 1996, winning two premierships.

His nephew, Tom Dabernig, and son Ben Hayes will continue the Lindsay Park operation, which includes a primary training facility in rural Victoria with satellite stables in Melbourne and Sydney.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club said Hayes had been granted a licence, effective on July 13 next year, to fill an impending vacancy.

Multiple championship winner John Moore, an expatriate Australian,will be forced to retire at the end of this season. The 69-year-old has already had his tenure extended with trainers previously made to retire at 65.

De Sousa heading back there too

Far East: British champion jokcey Silvestre de Sousa has been granted a licence to ride in Hong Kong from November 17 to January 31. 

The Brazilian, currently sidelined through injury, rode 44 winners from 298 rides during a four-and-a-half month spell in Hong Kong last season, including the G1 Hong Kong Cup aboard Glorious Forever at December’s International Races meeting.

De Sousa will be joined by French rider Alexis Badel, who has been granted a licence to ride from November 1 to February 28.

Elsewhere in global racing ...

North America: The late Marylou Whitney has been honored with the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association’s 2019 EquiStar Award. The award was created in 2016 to recognize an individual or organization that, through compassion, hard work and generosity, has enriched the New York Thoroughbred industry. More here

North America: Former Florida-based trainer Rene E. Mendez has died in Daytona Beach, Florida. He was 84. More here

Oceania: With a sensational five Group 1 victories to her name during the 2018-19 season, superstar mare Melody Belle was a runaway winner of the New Zealand Horse of the Year title at Sunday night’s awards ceremony at Ellerslie Racecourse. More here

North America: Fasig-Tipton have been announced as the title sponsor for the $200,000 Laurel Futurity at Laurel Park on Saturday, September 21. More here

North America: Thoroughbred Charities of America announced today that grants totaling nearly $475,000 have been awarded to 64 approved organizations that provide Thoroughbred aftercare and incentive programs, equine-assisted therapies, and health and human services for backstretch and farm workers. More here

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