International buyers continue to bolster American sales; speed excels in Breeders' Cup
by DICK POWELL
The day after the Breeders’ Cup, Fasig-Tipton conducted their November sale across town on Newtown Pike and a day later, Keeneland began their November sale of broodmares and weanlings.
A total of 30 broodmares or broodmare prospects brought at least $1 million and six weanlings topped $1 million as well. There were many more broodmares that brought seven figures when they were bought back including Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) winner STEPHANIE’S KITTEN (Kitten’s Joy), who was subsequently sold privately for a reported $2.8 million.
Throw in AMERICAN PHAROAH’s (Pioneerof the Nile) stud fee being set at $200,000 and CURLIN (Smart Strike) and SCAT DADDY (Johannesburg) being raised to $100,00 and it looks like the “Bull” market that American breeding has been enjoying will continue, if not grow.
Please note that many of the buyers of these horses were from overseas and planned on foaling their mares in their own countries where Lasix has been banned. Japanese buyers were particularly prominent at both November sales. And, by the way, nearly every one of these broodmares or broodmare prospects raced on Lasix.
So all this goes against the party line and false narrative that has been propagated by horse racing’s leadership that if we don’t get our medication policies in line with the rest of the world (see Lasix), the rest of the world will stop buying our bloodstock.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Our stallions that have raced on Lasix are in demand around the world. MORE THAN READY (Southern Halo), MEDAGLIA D’ORO (El Prado), the late STREET CRY (Machiavellian) and SCAT DADDY (Johannesburg) have all had stellar stallion careers in the Southern Hemisphere.
This year’s Breeders’ Cup was run at Keeneland and since they removed the Polytrack synthetic main track, it was conducted on dirt. When heavy rains hit Lexington on Tuesday and Wednesday, the main track was very wet but the weather cooperated the rest of the week and the track was “fast” by the second race on Thursday.
With only a few exceptions, speed did extremely well on the Keeneland main track to the point where it was borderline unfair.
In the Juvenile Filly (G1), SONGBIRD (Medaglia d’Oro) could have been running uphill and there would be no beating her. She is just that good. RACHEL’S VALENTINA (Bernardini) chased her for most of the trip and nobody else could make up any ground.
In the Filly and Mare Sprint (G1), LA VERDAD (Yes It’s True), who has always been suspect beyond six furlongs, gunned to the front for Jose Ortiz and through a half-mile in 45.12 seconds, maintained her advantage. STONETASTIC (Mizzen Mast) on the outside and TARIS (Flatter) down on the inside mounted challenges but she held on to the final yards before WAVELL AVENUE (Harlington) got up in time. Even in defeat, there was no question that the speedy main track carried La Verdad farther than she usually wants to go.
In the Sprint (G1), favored RUNHAPPY (Super Saver) did not break alertly but quickly joined the leaders going into the turn. With the half-mile run in 44.31 seconds, Edgar Prado swung Runhappy into the clear and despite PRIVATE ZONE (Macho Uno) having a clear lead with a furlong to go, was able to run him down. These were the two best horses in the race and none of the closers had a shot.
The Juvenile (G1) was the only race run on the Keeneland main track on Saturday where you did not have to be on the lead. NYQUIST (Uncle Mo) does nothing wrong in his races other than take a bit longer to win them than expected. He raced extremely wide around both turns but it did not matter as he made the lead turning for home and held on.
Songbird covered her 1 1/16 miles in the Juvenile Filly (G1) in 1:42.97 seconds and raced 5,666 feet. Nyquist covered his 1 1/16 miles in the Juvenile (G1) in 1:44.02 seconds but took 5,747 feet; 81 feet more than Songbird.
In the Classic, without LIAM’S MAP (Unbridled’s Song), who opted for the Dirt Mile (G1) and SMOOTH ROLLER (Hard Spun) and BEHOLDER (Henny Hughes), who both scratched, American Pharoah was going to be all alone on the lead no matter what the condition of the track.
The interesting part of the speed bias was that Mike Smith took advantage of it aboard EFFINEX (Mineshaft) and sent him up to chase American Pharoah. He put away TONALIST (Tapit) and FROSTED (Tapit) finished off a $76 exacta, proving you can make money even with an odds-on favorite on top.
Can you imagine the complaining if the Breeders' Cup had been held on Polytrack and instead of having a stone-cold speed bias, which we did, we had a stone-cold closer’s bias? I don’t see where one is better than the other but when dirt tracks favor speed at the expense of about half the entrants, nobody seems to be bothered by it.