Thoroughbred Broodmare Sells for Record Price

Even though we're in the midst of a global financial crisis, a special horse can still bring a jaw-dropping amount.

Better Than Honour, the dam of back-to-back Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches, set a world Thoroughbred auction record for a broodmare or broodmare prospect Nov. 2 when her price soared to $14 million during the Fasig-Tipton November select mixed sale in Lexington.

The last horse in the sale ring, Better Than Honour was purchased by Michael Moreno's Southern Equine Stables, which had owned a 70% interest in her prior to the auction. John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farms had owned the other 30%. The mare, who is not in foal, was sold because Southern Equine and Sikura were dispersing their joint holdings. The former is more interested in racing, and the latter is more interested in commercial breeding.

"There was no strategy, just take her home," Moreno said. "She is the best mare in the world, and we're in this thing for the long-term. You can't build a long-term operation without blue hen mares, and she's it. She's a Picasso; you can't sell a mare like this."

A 12-year-old daughter of Deputy Minister and the grade I-winning Blushing Groom mare Blush With Pride, Better Than Honour won the 1998 Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) and she was the 2007 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year. In addition to Jazil (by Seeking the Gold) and Rags to Riches (by A.P. Indy), she has produced 2008 Peter Pan Stakes winner Casino Drive (by Mineshaft).

"You don't plan these kinds of things out; you let it evolve," Moreno said. "I think we had live bids up to $12 million or $13 million. We had no reserve on her, so we just kind of went into the process and let it pan out. Honestly, anybody that bid on her in the early stages probably realized they were bidding for fun because she was going to bring obviously a world record for any broodmare that ever went through a sale. We just need another Rags to Riches, and we'll be in good shape."

The previous record, established in 2007, was held by Playful Act, who had brought $10.5 million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale from Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager John Ferguson. Better Than Honour is the second-highest-priced Thoroughbred ever sold at public auction, behind only The Green Monkey, which went for $16 million at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training.

"The hardest thing was probably getting to the point of decision to put the mare into the ring," Sikura said. "Of course, it's emotional, but at the same time it's very satisfying that you're a part of history. I feel good about it. Mike has been a very good partner and put up his money every time I wanted to buy a mare or do something. It was a leap of faith, and he never once wavered or said, 'Are you sure you want to buy this mare?' or 'this is too much money.' He's been rewarded by owning a fantastic champion broodmare, and hopefully, she'll reproduce another champion horse for him."

Sikura was among the bidders for Better Than Honour.

"I went to $10 million because I thought she was deserving of the world record," he said. "I guess if they had come to me with the (sale) ticket at $10 million, I might have stammered a little bit, but I would have signed it. I felt very confident after that point ($10 million) there were other people who would still be bidding."

Boosted by Better Than Honour's world record price, the Fasig-Tipton November sale overcame a slumping Thoroughbred market and economic turmoil to post sharp increases from a year ago in its gross revenue, average price, and median price.

"I think this sale shows that there continues to be demand for quality offerings," said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. "There was fierce competition for a lot of the top horses, including and exclusive of the Southern Equine/Hill 'n' Dale horses. But the market also is selective, and we expected that we would find increased selectivity in the marketplace this year based on what we had seen in the 2-year-old and the yearling sales. The buyers continue to be very demanding, and you have to meet most, if not all of their requirements, in order to get them to be aggressive in their bidding strategy. "

(Originally published at BloodHorse.com.)  

About the Author

Deirdre Biles

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

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