Thoroughbred Broodmare Sells for World Record Price at Keeneland

English Thoroughbred champion Playful Act shattered the world record for a broodmare or broodmare prospect sold at public auction when her price soared to $10.5 million Nov. 5 on the opening day of the Keeneland breeding stock sale in Lexington. A furious bidding battle between Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager, John Ferguson, and his biggest rival, the Coolmore Stud team led by John Magnier, sparked the spectacular financial fireworks.

Ferguson emerged the winner, signing the ticket in the back of the sale pavilion behind the auction stand and saying Sheikh Mohammed's determination to buy Playful Act was, in part, a tribute to the late Robert Sangster, who bred the 5-year-old daughter of Sadler's Wells in the name of his Swettenham Stud.

John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency consigned Playful Act for the Swettenham dispersal that is being conducted by Sangster's heirs. Sangster, who died in 2004, was a longtime Coolmore associate. Playful Act had been in foal to Kingmambo but aborted the foal. She produced her first foal this year, a Giant's Causeway filly.

"My father would have loved it, absolutely loved it; he would have been thrilled to bits," said Sangster's son, Ben. "He was a horse trader and in trading horses, he was always game. He would have thoroughly enjoyed that situation. That's what's the whole game is about."

The former world mark of 4.6 million guineas ($9,358,608) was established last November by group I winner Magical Romance (in foal to Pivotal) at Tattersalls in England. James Wigan of London Thoroughbred Services purchased her for Lady Rothschild. The former North American record was the $9 million paid by Sheikh Mohammed for champion Ashado during the 2005 Keeneland November sale.

(Originally published at

About the Author

Deirdre Biles

Deirdre Biles is the Bloodstock Sales Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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