Havre De Grace sells for $10 million at Fasig
REIGNING US horse of the year Havre de Grace brought a blockbuster price of $10 million when sold as a broodmare prospect at the Fasig-Tipton November select sale in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday.
The price-tag, the most paid for a thoroughbred at public auction this year, helped turnover at the boutique one-day sale rise by 84 per cent.
With her hefty eight-figure sum, Havre De Grace fetched the third-highest price ever paid at auction for a female horse, behind only broodmares Better Than Honour ($14 million) and Playful Act ($10.5m).
Although bidding was hot and heavy for Havre De Grace, it was clear winning bidder Mandy Pope had made a connection with the five-year-old Saint Liam mare leading up to the sale.
“I don't know what to say,” an emotional Pope said after buying the champion. “Obviously, she was absolutely gorgeous. You look at her and she is everything a racehorse could be, she did everything a racehorse could do, and she has a wonderful attitude.
“She was very sweet; she would put her head in my lap when I went up to see her. She liked reading the catalogue pages. She's just beautiful. She is the epitome of what we are all trying to breed as far as conformation and racing ability. Hopefully, she will pass that on to her foals.”
Even before making that eye-popping price, Havre De Grace had entered auction folklore. She walked into the sale ring as only the second reigning horse of the year to sell at public auction. The first was the great Lady's Secret, who sold for $5.4 million at Fasig-Tipton’s 1987 Fall mixed sale.
Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned the mare on behalf of Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm. After she sold, Porter sought out Pope to thank her.
“I just wanted to thank you very much,” Porter told Pope. “I think it is great you have her. Mark [Taylor] was telling me how much time you spent over there with her. She is a special lady. Thank you very much.”
Havre De Grace retired from racing earlier this year with a record of nine victories in 16 starts and earnings of $2,586,175.
Lastyear she won three Grade 1 contests, including a victory over the boys in the Woodward Stakes, and was named horse of the year and champion older mare. She ran once this year, an easy victory in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes in March, but was retired in April after injuring her right front ankle.
“It was hard when I went over to say goodbye to her today, but it was exciting that she brought what she deserved because she has the whole package,” said Porter, who is not in the breeding business. “I am really glad that Mandy ended up buying her. I think she loves the horse as much as we do.”
Porter declined to reveal the mare's reserve, but did say that it was nowhere near the final bid.
“We set a very reasonable reserve, and I was very surprised she brought this kind of money. I think she deserves it. She has amazing talent, amazing beauty, amazing grace, and an amazing pedigree. I brought her here to sell, and I didn't think I needed to set a high reserve.”
Porter elected not to have Havre De Grace covered in the spring so that whoever did purchase her could control her future as a broodmare. She spent her time away from the track at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky.
Although Pope owns Whisper Hill Farm in Florida, plans call for Havre De Grace to remain in Kentucky. Pope has a short list of stallions under consideration for her purchase and will sell the resulting foal as well as its future siblings.
“I just hope she knows what she is worth and she has nice babies,” said Pope. “It will take a bit for her to pay for herself with her foals, but if her foals look anything like she does, they should be in here bringing a lot of money. I am sure if she has a filly along the way, we will keep a filly out of her, but to begin with we need to get her to help pay for herself. She will be easy to mate because she is an out-cross for a lot of stallions. That was another good point about her.”
Havre De Grace is part of the only foal crop by the ill-fated 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, who died in a freak accident months after completing his first season at stud. Nancy Dillman bred Havre de Grace in Kentucky out of the Carson City mare Easter Bunnette.
Although Havre De Grace was certainly the headliner, plenty of other well-bred horses sold for sizable figures during the sale. The second-highest price of the day was $5 million, which Coolmore paid forUntouched Talent, the dam of Arkansas Derby winner and Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes runner-up Bodemeister.
Brookdale Sales, agent for Audley Farm Equine, consigned the eight-year-old mare, who was offered in foal to Unbridled's Song.
In all, 15 offerings went for at least $1 million. A total of 87 horse sold for a gross of $60,220,000, leading to an average of $692,184 and a median of $190,000. The gross was up by 84 per cent and the average rose 67 per cent, while the median dipped five per cent when compared to 2011.
“Obviously it was a remarkable evening,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “The thing that was most encouraging was the breadth of bidders. This was not a sale that was dominated by one or two buyers. Special things happen when you have special horses.”
Last year, 13 horses fetched seven-figures, but the top seller of the one-day select sale was Funny Moon, who sold for $2.3 million. This year, seven horses sold for at least that amount including Grade 1 winners Switch ($4.3 million to Moyglare Stud), Cry And Catch Me ($3.5 million), Grace Hall ($3.2 million), Contested ($2.3 million), and this year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Zagora ($2.5 million).
Two more horses, In Lingerie and Ponche De Leona, brought seven-figures in the ring but failed to meet their reserves.