A horse that didn't sell upstaged the ones
that did Monday at Keeneland's September yearling sale.
Although the bidding reached $7.7 million for Vallenzeri, an
A.P. Indy colt and first foal out of former Breeders Cup Distaff
champion Azeri, that amount wasn't enough to pry the horse from
owner Michael Paulson.
It was the highest price refused for a horse at a Keeneland
sale. Keeneland spokeswoman Amy Gregory said it was believed to
also be the highest price not met at any North American sale.
The previous record at Keeneland was the $7.5 million Ralph C.
Wilson of Oxford Stable paid to keep a Northern Dancer colt in
Paulson left the sale after refusing the bid. Agent John Sikura,
who offered the yearling on Paulson's behalf, declined to speak for
him. Sikura also declined to disclose the price Paulson would have
Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stables said he was "flabbergasted"
Paulson didn't take the money.
"He's a smart man," Campbell said. "Smarter than me, I'm
With Vallenzeri off the board, the highest price on the opening
day of the sale was $3.1 million Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al
Maktoum paid for a bay filly also by A.P. Indy.
The Dubai ruler attended the sale in person. His buyer, John
Ferguson, said the sheikh and his wife, Princess Haya, fell in love
with the filly by Chimichurri the moment they saw her earlier in
the day. They called her an "absolute queen," Ferguson said.
"Chimichurri was a very, very fast mare herself by Elusive
Quality, and she had a lot of quality as did this filly," Ferguson
said. "She was a filly he was very keen to have."
Earlier, the sheikh paid $1.7 million - the first seven-figure
price of the day - for a chestnut filly by Unbridled's Song.
Also notable was the sale of a by filly by Giant's Causeway,
sold to John Warren's Highclere Thoroughbred Racing out of England
for $850,000. That price was a bargain compared with last year's
sale of the filly's dam, Playful Act, for a record $10.5 million.
Warren joked he doesn't consider any $850,000 purchase to be
"cheap." He plans to take the filly back to Europe.
Keeneland has catalogued a record 5,555 yearlings for the sale,
which concludes Sept. 23.