LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Grade 3 winner Miss Lodi provided some late fireworks Tuesday at the Keeneland January sale's second session, bringing a $1.9 million bid as the day's top-priced horse.
The buyers turned out to be something of a surprise to spectators who had become accustomed to big tickets for buyers such as Aaron and Marie Jones, Southern Equine, and major commercial breeding farms. This time, the man signing the ticket was Charles Albright, a partner in developing a small commercial broodmare band with George Prussin, who is well known for his involvement in the highly successful Jayeff "B" Stable partnership.
Albright signed the ticket on behalf of Sha-Li Leasing, Prussin's New Jersey computer leasing firm.
Lane's End, agent, sold Miss Lodi as Hip No. 702. A 9-year-old Mr. Greeley mare, Miss Lodi was the only Keeneland January mare cataloged in foal to Storm Cat.
Miss Lodi was one of three mares to bring seven figures Tuesday. The others were $1.5 million Gwen's Song, who sold to Aaron and Marie Jones from Greenfield Farm, agent; and $1.35 million Moon Catcher, whom Gainesway, agent, sold to Marsha Naify (Emmanuel de Seroux, agent).
The Tuesday session sold 239 horses for $27,088,200, resulting in an average of $113,340 and a $60,000 median. Last year, the second session sold 267 horses for $23,112,200 for an average of $863,563 and a median of $47,000.
The day's top yearling was Hip No. 643, a $375,000 Malibu Moon-Inclination colt that Southern Equine Stables bought from the Warrendale agency.
Albright said he and Prussin have been partners in breeding stock for about four years and board all of their horses at Lane's End.
"She's a lovely mare and has got a good history," he said of Miss Lodi, the dam of 3-year-old Thrust and juvenile Veloce Re, both by A.P. Indy, registered as bred Skara Glen Stables and Sha-Li Leasing. Miss Lodi is the partnership's eighth mare in a band that is bred for commercial purposes.
Aaron and Marie Jones bought their million-dollar mare, Gwen's Song, to breed to their stallion Forestry. She currently is carrying a foal by popular sire Distorted Humor, in whom the Joneses own a breeding right.
B.D. Gibbs's Greenfield Farm achieved a personal best with the sale of Gwen's Song. The farm consigned the 5-year-old mare as part of a dispersal for Sunland Park owner Stan Fulton.
The Joneses' buying agent, Frank Taylor, called the price "top dollar" but called Gwen's Song "a perfect fit" for Forestry. Gwen's Song was unraced at 2 and won once in her career, at 3, but her catalog page features some attractive black type. She is a half-sister to multiple Grade 2 winner Lead Story and to stakes winner Capejinsky. Her second dam, Carols Folly, is the dam of both Unbridled Elaine, dam of the Gradeo3-winning Forestry colt Etched, and Grade 1 winner Glitter Woman, dam of Grade 1 winner Political Force.
"That family has been a really good one," Taylor said.
The Joneses also bought Hip No. 444, the $525,000 stakes winner Stolen Prayer, whom the Summerfield agency (Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck) sold as a 5-year-old broodmare prospect.
The day's other millionaire, 4-year-old Moon Catcher, will continue racing after her purchase by Naify. Agent de Seroux said the Malibu Moon filly will go to Christophe Clement in Florida.
The dispersal of the late Cynthia Phipps's bloodstock was led by $625,000 broodmare prospect Palais Versailles, an unraced daughter of Versailles Treaty who sold to WinStar Farm.
Phipps, 62, died last October of injuries she sustained in a fire in her Manhattan apartment, leaving behind a small collection of mares and yearlings that Claiborne Farm was charged with the sad task of selling.
Palais Versailles, a 4-year-old Pulpit filly, is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner and Grade 1-placed Saarland and to the Mr. Prospector broodmare Rhineland, who also sold for $350,000 to Kelley Farms Racing.
About two hours later, Versailles Treaty herself took center stage as Hip No. 482, looking sprightly at age 20. She was offered in foal to Unbridled's Song, making her in-utero foal a three-quarter sibling to Saarland.
Olin Gentry of Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds bought her for $475,000, a big price in a market that penalizes older mares. In addition, Versailles Treaty has only one ovary, her left one having been surgically removed some years ago, a fact that Hancock said had not prevented her from getting in foal easily.
"She's in great shape, a beautiful mare," Gentry said after signing the ticket. "It looks like she'll have several more matings in her.
"A good foal out of her would be worth more than that," he added, referring to Versailles Treaty's price. "There aren't many like her that you can get your hands on. It was a fair bid, but she's a bit special, too."
The sale was a difficult one for the Hancock family, whose history has long been entwined with the Phipps family's.
"I couldn't watch that mare sell," Dell Hancock said later. "When the Phippses win a race, it feels like we've won a race. They've been such a part of our life. But I think the horses have sold well, and I think Cynthia would be proud of them."
The Keeneland January auction continues through Sunday, with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m. in the Keeneland sale pavilion.