April 1, 2023

Abel Tasman goes to Coolmore for Keeneland January record-tying $5 million

Abel Tasman equaled the Keeneland January Sale record of $5 million set in 2000 (c) Keeneland

Champion Abel Tasman, in the hunt for another title as a 2018 Eclipse Award finalist, made Keeneland history Monday when selling for $5 million to Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier.

Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, as a broodmare prospect, the five-year-old daughter of Quality Road tied for the highest price ever paid at the January Horses of All Ages Sale.

The $5 million sale record was established in 2000 by Mackie, gaveled down to Britton House Stud Ltd. while in foal to Mr. Prospector. A Grade 3 winner herself, Mackie was out of Broodmare of the Year Glowing Tribute, and thus counted among her half-siblings 1993 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Travers (G1) star Sea Hero.

No other horse has passed the $4 million threshold at Keeneland January. Third on the all-time list is Desert Stormer, the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) heroine who went to Live Oak Stud for $3.6 million, in foal to Kris S., in 2002.

Abel Tasman entered the ring to fanfare as Hip No. 288, and bidding started at $3 million.

Dermot Ryan, manager of Coolmore’s Ashford Stud near Versailles, Kentucky, noted that $5 million was a steep price.

“But she’s a queen, isn’t she?” Ryan said. “They are very rare when they come across like that, animals like her. She had everything; she’d be anybody’s dream filly to own.

“She’ll go to one of the Coolmore sires. M.V. (Magnier) will talk to his dad and partners and make a decision (on breeding plans).

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have her. It is always significant when you get a queen like her, so hopefully she’ll go on and produce by one of our own stallions. It is very possible she will (stay in America).”

Abel Tasman’s first tour of the Keeneland sales ring was less memorable, resulting in an RNA for $65,000 as a September yearling. Retained by her breeder, Clearsky Farms, she developed into a leading two-year-old for trainer Simon Callaghan. After capturing her stakes debut in the 2016 Starlet (G1), Abel Tasman gained a new co-owner in China Horse Club International and later switched to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.

Abel Tasman went on to champion three-year-old filly honors in 2017 on the strength of a three-race winning streak comprising the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Acorn (G1), and Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). She concluded her sophomore campaign with runner-up efforts in the Cotillion (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

Back in action at four in 2018, Abel Tasman peaked during the summer. She romped in the Ogden Phipps (G1) and scored a hard-fought victory in the Personal Ensign (G1), a race that may have left its mark as she was below form in her final two outings. Those two Grade 1s were enough, in a muddled year in the division, to put her in the frame for the champion older dirt female Eclipse.

“She was just so classy about the whole thing,” Taylor Made’s Mark Taylor said of how Abel Tasman handled the sales experience. “If you study horses like that (you will see) what separates great horses from average horses. Everything she did was just different than the other horses: the way she handled the stress, the way she cleaned up her (feed), the way she came out and did her job and kind of analyzed what was going on. She looks like she is a totally different breed.

“That is what is fun about selling these kind of horses. You get to study one of the best horses we have had in a long time. There are other horses that have the biomechanics she does but they don’t have the X-factor.”

Abel Tasman amassed $2,793,385 in earnings from a record of 16-8-4-0, reflecting six career Grade 1 wins. Her four stakes placings include the 2017 Santa Anita Oaks (G1) and Santa Ysabel (G3).

Abel Tasman rocks the tailor-made blanket reminiscent of her China Horse Club silks (c) Keeneland

Produced by the Deputy Minister mare Vargas Girl, Abel Tasman is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Sky Girl and Canadian stakes-placed Moonlight Sky. Vargas Girl is in turn a half-sister to Grade 2 victor Bevo and Grade 3 vixen Moonlight Sonata, the dam of Grade 2 scorers Wilburn and Beethoven.

There’s a Coolmore background to the second-best seller of the January opener, the Galileo mare A Star Is Born, who commanded $750,000 from Summer Wind Equine. The Irish-bred nine-year-old was offered as Hip 229 by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent.

A winning full sister to multiple Group 1-winning highweight Rip Van Winkle, A Star is Born is in foal on an April 16 cover to War Front. She is therefore carrying a full sibling to her first foal, Fleet Review, a multiple Group 1-placed stakes victor. Like his dam, uncle, broodmare sire, and second dam’s sire Stravinsky, Fleet Review is trained by Aidan O’Brien.

“War Front and Galileo are the best things on the planet,” Hill ‘n’ Dale’s John G. Sikura said. “She is a young mare and already a (stakes) producer. She could have made a million dollars.”

The very last horse in the ring Monday, reigning Del Mar Oaks (G1) winner Fatale Bere, went to Japan’s Shadai Farm for $700,000. Supplemented to the catalog by ELiTE, the broodmare prospect sported Hip 397K.

Fatale Bere was imported from her native France following a third in the 2017 Criterium de l’Ouest. The Pedro the Great filly promptly upset the Surfer Girl in her U.S. premiere, and added the 2018 Providencia (G3), on the way to her career high at Del Mar. Out of the winning Saumarez mare Mofa Bere, the four-year-old Fatale Bere retires with a mark of 11-5-0-1, $427,975.

The top yearling, a $375,000 colt by Into Mischief, paced the early trade as Hip 39 and finished fourth overall on the leaderboard. Ardfield Bloodstock purchased the February 4 Kentucky-bred from the Taylor Made consignment.

The chestnut is the second registered foal from the stakes-placed Distorted Humor mare Mary Rita, a descendant of unbeaten Hall of Famer and Broodmare of the Year Personal Ensign. Mary Rita’s first is an unraced three-year-old filly by Tiznow named Passive Investing.

Buoyed by Abel Tasman, Keeneland reported increases in both gross and average on Monday, but the median declined. A total of 223 horses sold for $21,052,200, a jump of 58.7 percent from the $13,265,100 realized by 186 a year ago. The average spiked 32.4 percent, from $71,318 to $94,404. The $39,000 median, however, represented a drop of 13.3 percent from $45,000.

The four-day sale resumes Tuesday at 10 a.m. (EST). For complete coverage and livestreaming of the auction, visit keeneland.com.