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Tuesday, November 06, 2007


You know people have too much money when….

The KEENELAND NOVEMBER SALE started with a boom yesterday when one mare sold for $10.5 million, a world record. PLAYFUL ACT, an Irish bred Group 1 winner by Sadler’s Wells out of stakes winner Magnificent Style, NOT in foal to Kingmambo (she aborted) was sold by Swettenham Stud, Hill ‘n’ Dale as agent, to John Ferguson.

Here's a good story from, the Lexington-Herald Leader..

Dubai ruler outbids Coolmore Stud for Playful Act

By Alicia Wincze

He had just absorbed the last of the more than 50 bids that had been hurled through the sales pavilion.

But even after several minutes of orchestrating one of the most remarkable performances ever witnessed in the thoroughbred industry, Keeneland auctioneer Cris Caldwell still had the presence to deliver another request of the shell-shocked crowd.

"Please, everyone, hold your applause until the mare leaves the ring," he boomed.

Caldwell and the rest of those in attendance fell silent. And as the bright bay mare stepped lightly out of the ring, they were finally free to try to bask in the glow of what had just taken place.

It was an amazing display of fireworks as the mare Playful Act sold for $10.5 million, a world-record price for a broodmare, to Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum during the opening session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Playful Act's price tag shatters the previous mark of $9,151,884 that was established when Magical Romance sold at the 2006 Tattersalls December sale, and it makes her the fourth-highest-priced horse ever to sell at public auction.

"I thought she would make in excess of $5 million, but after that, it's total guess," said John Sikura, president of Hill 'n' Dale Sales, which consigned Playful Act. "I knew something great would happen, but you can never imagine a mare would sell for that kind of money. Still, I wasn't totally surprised. I knew she'd bring as much as a mare could make."

Although she had aborted the foal she was carrying by Kingmambo, Playful Act's remarkable looks and enviable pedigree made her a must-have commodity.

The daughter of legendary sire Sadler's Wells is out of the Group 3-winning Silver Hawk mare Magnificent Style and was herself a champion 2-year-old in England during her racing career.

All of that was not lost on potential buyers and, as has happened so many times before, the bidding war came down to representatives of Coolmore Stud and Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock agent John Ferguson.

The action started innocently enough with an opening bid of $100,000 but after several minutes, the board had surged past the $6 million mark and was barreling toward record territory.

With the price leaping up by $100,000 and $200,000 increments, Coolmore put its final bid in at $10.2 million. When Ferguson countered at $10.5, the Coolmore camp conferred for several moments before eventually yielding.

"From a European standpoint, she was an outstanding filly on the racetrack, and Sadler's Wells has proven to be a great broodmare sire as well," Ferguson said. "Sheikh Mohammed felt very strongly that this was a mare he very, very much wanted to own."

Added Sikura: "When those two (Coolmore and Sheikh Mohammed) hook up, neither one of them wants to stop, so it was a test of wills, a test of egos. You're looking at two titans of the game that don't quit. Without them, we wouldn't have a great business."

Playful Act's record-setting turn also served as a fitting tribute to an industry legend.

The 5-year-old mare was consigned as part of the dispersal of the Sangster family's Swettenham Stud.

Robert Sangster, who died of cancer in 2004 at age 67, was widely considered horse racing's leading international owner in the 1970s and 80s. It was he, in partnership with famed trainer Vincent O'Brien, who established the world-record price for a yearling when they purchased Seattle Dancer for $13.1 million at the 1985 Keeneland July sale.

"I want to express what a great man Robert Sangster was, and he was a great friend of Sheikh Mohammed," Ferguson said "I think that was part of the reason why Sheikh Mohammed was so determined to have this mare."

Keeneland officials celebrated Playful Act's exploits as much as anyone yesterday as her world-record price helped the sale post bullish results for the first day of its 15-day exercise.

The final gross of $109,064,000 and the 28 horses that sold for seven figures or more both represented single-session records for any sale in Keeneland history.

"Quality always sells well, but this is unprecedented," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "We knew going in we had a great catalog and we knew it had tremendous international appeal. It wasn't surprising to see, but the number of million-dollar horses was a pleasant surprise."

The average of $562,186 was up 10 percent over last year's opening session, while the median fell from $297,500 in 2006 to $272,500.

Although her time in the ring was anticlimactic by comparison, multiple Grade 1 winner Spun Sugar still managed to do her connections proud when she sold for $4.5 million to Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum's Shadwell Stud.

The 5-year-old daughter of Awesome Again was sold in foal to leading sire A.P. Indy.

"Just a gorgeous mare, a great racemare in foal to the right horse," Rick Nichols, vice president of Shadwell, said of Spun Sugar. "We own her full brother ... and she's very much like him.

"I thought I'd have to pay a little bit more, actually, considering the way things went today."

Canadians in action included:

Howard Walton, who owned and co-bred the late stakes winner LIKE MOM LIKE SONS, was listed as the buyer, at $410,000, for that colt’s dam, Mycupoftea, in foal to Distorted Humor. Walton owns Norseman Racing.

Interestingly, Walton’s partner in Like Mom Like Sons, Happy Alter, bought the weanling by Tiznow for $150,000 as the next lot from the sale.

Hall of Fame owner and breeder Russell Bennett signed the ticket for Houdini’s Honey (Mr. Prospector-Coup de Folie) for $900,000. Bennett has bought for owner and fellow British Columbian Charles Fipke in the past. The mare is a winner and in foal to Johannesburg.

Windways Farm paid $72,00 for a mare, Wild and Wonderful, by Kennedy Road, a Canadian champion. The mare is the dam of Grade 3 stakes winner West Virginia and is in foal to Henny Hughes. That’s Jeff Begg’s farm, owner of Bold Comment etc.

Bear Now’s dam Controlled was withdrawn. Champion FINANCINGAVAILABLE was withdrawn also.


MONASHEE races on SATURDAY at Woodbine in the Maple Leaf Stakes at 10 furlongs..the grey mare is going for her 12th consecutive stakes win and it is her Ontario debut. She worked fast on the Woodbine Polytrack on the weekend...

The CTHS Mixed Sale catalogue is on the web-site ( and there is over 170 horses up for sale in the Dec. 1 auction at Woodbine...

The Woodbine season ends Dec. 9..the Sovereign Awards dinner and ceremony at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto is on Friday, Dec. 14. Contact the Jockey Club of Canada for tickets.

Some of the changes for the voting rules for the Sovereigns this year are as follows..

  • 2-year-olds will only have to make two starts in Canada, prior to the cut off date to qualify for Sovereign Awards consideration. Horses 3-year-old and up will continue to be required to make three starts prior to the cutoff date to qualify. The cut off date for eligibility this year will be Sunday, November 25, 2007.
  • The rule regarding voting for Outstanding Broodmare, a lifetime achievement award has been changed to allow stakes placed progeny instead of just winners.
  • The rule regarding turf performances has been deleted and as a result two category names will change – Older Male on Main Track and Older Female on Main Track
  • The information provided on owners will only be reflective of racing in Canada rather than the accomplishments of Canadian born owners racing abroad
Hey, check out this link...scroll down a bit to see a PICTURE FROM theGREY GHOST STAKES on Halloween night...Sarah Andrews is an excellent photographer...


  • At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ever since that day, 2 or 3 weeks ago, where Ms. Morrison was thinking of terminating this website, the dynamics of the postings on this site have changed drastically.

    I don't know the reasons creating that problem, but I suspect it was a form of "libel-chill". At any rate there are no more postings concerning: 1) general raceday observations 2) ORC incompetence 3) trainer/jockey malfeasance. And that makes for a very static and very uninteresting site. And that's too bad.

  • At 8:43 AM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 8:44 AM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    Sorry you feel that way...
    This is a personal site where I post opinions sometimes (in the last 3 days, the hardness of the Polytrack, the weakness of the field of the top 2yo race in Canada, etc., and sheesh, every race has been discussed in the last few days) and not always is it going to be to the liking of those who want to read about what you list.

  • At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ok Jen, maybe I was too harsh at 8:30am. On reflection, I cannot dispute that your race by race observations (for completed races) are revealing and actually quite astute. In my opinion, its the best thing on your site. Hope you will continue that aspect.

  • At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Jen I would be interested in your analysis of the Melbourne Cup. Did you manage to stay up late enough to catch it??? I had to tape it and watch it later!

  • At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It was 44 years ago today, Nov. 6th, that the great Northern Dancer was victorious over five other two year olds in the Carleton Stake contested over a muddy Greenwood Race Track. He was ridden by J. Fitzsimmons and went off as the 1 to 3 favourite. Congratulations, Northern Dancer, on the anniversary of your 3rd stakes win.


  • At 3:44 PM, Blogger the_drake said…

    Wasn't it nice to see 21 horses running a distance of ground last night at Flemington, all drug free and most running off less than a two week layoff. Maybe Pletcher should go down there to see how to win a race without giving the horse 6 weeks, cause y'all know 5 weeks back is a little quick. Looks like I'll be booking a ticket from LA to Melbourne following next years Breeders Cup.

    Also good thing my 2 yearling colts are bred to go two turns, I've already circled The Coronation Futurity as a tentative start...1:16 and

  • At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi jen...i was wondering if you could explain what the maintainence is @ woodbine...i don't understand some of the terminology...galloped harrowed...stuff like that...


  • At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Wasn't it nice to see 21 horses running a distance of ground last night at Flemington..."

    Absolutely Drake.

    Wouldn't racing here be much better for a little bit of that, afterall, a distance of ground here is 1m 1/8th, isn't it???


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