Sheik Mohammed makes his mark at Keeneland September Sale

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

As the old adage goes, money talks—but wealth whispers.

Nowhere was this more apparent than this year's renewal of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum made a surreptitious entrance into the bidding area before lighting up the afternoon's action with a multi-million-dollar bidding war.

Acting as agent on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin, Anthony Stroud signed the winning US$2.5 million ticket on Hip 75, a gray or roan son of Tapit  consigned by Hinkle Farms. The colt was bred in Kentucky by his consignor out of the Forestry mare Seeking Gabrielle. There was little doubt the colt's famous half brother, Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Nyquist , was at least partly responsible for his purchase price.

"It's really what Sheikh Mohammed liked," Stroud said. "He's really excited to be here, and it's great for him to be back at Keeneland. He selected the horse. He has the half-brother Nyquist, and the Hinkles do a great job breeding and raising foals. We bought the half-sister last year by War Front, and she's doing very well. He's a very nice horse, and as I said, Sheikh Mohammed picked him out. He was one of our picks of the day—well, his pick of the day—and that was it, really. He's got a fantastic pedigree, good physical, and he'll be an exciting prospect."

Nyquist was the first foal born to Seeking Gabrielle, who was purchased by Hinkle Farms the year of the classic winner's birth for $100,000 from the Paramount Sales consignment to the 2013 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. Godolphin purchased Nyquist's half sister by War Front  for US$1.75 million at the 2018 Keeneland September Sale.

"It's really amazing, and I'm really happy for our team at the farm," Anne Archer Hinkle said. "As my Uncle Henry said, this is the culmination of two years of work, and it all happens in about 30 seconds. Right before it happens, I think we all want to throw up because we get so nervous. But we're really happy. We have a wonderful team at the farm, and this is a testament to their hard work. I'm so thrilled for my dad (Tom) because he's been doing this for so long."

"We've been very impressed with the Nyquist yearlings as well," Stroud said of the freshman sire who was the leading first-crop weanling sire of 2018 with an average price of US$279,000. "We've been going around looking at them. That also was one of the factors. So far, we've been impressed with that."

Overall, Godolphin signed for receipts worth US$5,250,000 for a trio of prospective talent, as Stroud returned to do battle in the back ring later in the afternoon, securing a Medaglia d'Oro  colt from the consignment of Denali Stud, agent for Stonestreet Bred & Raised, for US$2.15 million.

His sire stands at Jonabell Darley," Stroud said. "Sheikh Mohammed really liked him, so we bought him."

Consigned as Hip 138, the colt is the first foal out of the Unbridled's Song mare Tara's Tango, winner of the Santa Margarita Stakes (G1). The colt's second dam, Scarlet Tango, was a prolific producer who also foaled NetJets King's Bishop Stakes (G1) winner Visionaire, Providencia Stakes (G3T) winner Scarlet Strike, and Hutcheson Stakes (G3) winner Madison's Luna.

"He was popular with all the right people, but you never let your expectations get that high," said Conrad Bandoroff of Denali. It was the second high-end score of the day for the partnership of Denali and Stonestreet and for the family of Hip 138. The pair sold Hip 68, a colt by Curlin  out of Scarlet Tango, earlier in the session for $800,000 to Mike Ryan, agent.

"(Hip 138) was an incredible physical. He's all class," Bandoroff said. "For a first foal, he was a tremendously balanced horse. He acted like a true professional. His first show was like his last show. He is a testament to their program—a homebred from one of their best mares. At the end of the day, it's a feather in the cap for Stonestreet Bred & Raised, and we were fortunate we got to represent them. They did a fantastic job with that horse."

Godolphin's third purchase came late in the day, when Hip 181, another son of Medaglia d'Oro from the Select Sales consignment, was bought for US$600,000. The colt out of the stakes-winning Giant's Causeway mare Wait Til Dawn is from the family of Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) and Le Brea Stakes (G1) winner Spain.

Moving forward, Stroud said any decisions regarding whether the colts will stay in the U.S. for training will be at the discretion of Sheikh Mohammed.

"We'll see how the week goes and how it pans out, then we'll go from there," Stroud said. "But he's completely instrumental in the selection of the horses. So it's great that he's here.

"The market looks pretty solid. To buy a nice horse who is a possible stallion, it represents what the market takes. The boss is just looking for attractive horses that will make good athletes."





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