Keeneland Route to Classic Success
70 Classic Wins
The numbers tell the story when it comes to the impact of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale on the North American classic races. Horses that went through the ring at Keeneland have accounted for 23 wins in the Kentucky Derby (G1), 26 runnings of the Preakness (G1), and have won the Belmont (G1) on 21 occasions.
Justify Leads the Way
The classic group is headed by the incomparable Justify, who towered over his peers en route to a sweep of the Triple Crown, becoming only the 13th horse to accomplish that feat. Offered at the 2016 September Sale by breeder Glennwood Farm, the son of Scat Daddy was purchased for $500,000 by WinStar Farm’s Maverick Racing, SF Racing and China Horse Club, with Starlight Racing and Head of Plains joining the ownership group later.
A Triple Crown Sweep
Unraced at 2, Justify was undefeated in three starts, including the Santa Anita Derby (G1) previous to the Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve. In what was the wettest Derby in history, Justify stalked the early pace before taking charge to defeat 2-year-old champion Good Magic. In the Preakness two weeks later, the colt again dominated his opposition over a soaked surface at fog-shrouded Pimlico. Over a dry, fast track in the Belmont, Justify gamely held off Gronkowski to secure his place in equine history. He won Horse of the Year honors and retired undefeated in six career starts with earnings of more than $3.7 million.
When shopping the 2018 September Sale, Tom Ryan and Donato Lanni landed on a son of Into Mischief named Authentic, who was purchased by their clients SF Bloodstock and Starlight West for $350,000 from Bridie Harrison, agent for breeder Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds. With Spendthrift Farm, Myracehorse.com and Madaket Stables added to the ownership group, the colt won the 2020 edition of the Derby that was rescheduled to the first Saturday in September and then finished second in the rescheduled Preakness. Authentic went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland and earn Horse of the Year honors at the 2020 Eclipse Awards.
A Two-Time Keeneland Graduate
Nyquist was a two-time Keeneland sales graduate, having initially sold as a weanling and then purchased by Sutton Place Stables for $230,000 from Dromoland at the 2014 September Sale. The Uncle Mo colt, bred by Summerhill Farm, was voted champion 2-year-old male and went on to become the second Kentucky Derby winner for owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill when he won the 2016 Run for the Roses.
Winning at the Wire
Racing for Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables and three partners, Curlin rebounded from a third in the Kentucky Derby to nip Derby winner Street Sense at the wire in the 2007 edition of the Preakness. Curlin had been sold by Eaton Sales for breeder Fares Farm for $57,000, and the Smart Strike colt went on to be honored as Horse of the Year twice and retired as the then-all-time North American earner with $10.5 million.
Rare Preakness Win for a Filly
In 2020, when so many things were abnormal due to the global pandemic, champion Swiss Skydiver became just the sixth filly to win the Preakness, prevailing in a stretch duel over eventual Horse of the Year Authentic in the classic that was rescheduled to October from its usual May spot. The Daredevil filly was bred by WinStar Farm and purchased by her trainer, Kenny McPeek, on behalf of owner Peter J. Callahan for $35,000 from the Select Sales consignment to the 2018 September Sale.
Winning the Preakness War
War of Will took a long route from being a $175,000 RNA to sale at the 2017 September Sale to classic success. The War Front colt bred by Flaxman Holdings Limited owned by Gary Barber went on to win the 2019 Preakness.
Rich Belmont Victory
Rags to Riches lived up to her hefty $1.9 million price tag when the A.P. Indy filly recovered from a poor start and then outlasted Preakness winner Curlin in a stretch duel to win the 2007 Belmont. The victory was only the third by a filly in Belmont history and the first since 1905. Bred by Skara Glen Stables, Rags to Riches was bought by Demi O’Byrne for Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith from the Lane’s End consignment to the 2005 September Sale.
A Game Belmont Win for Creator
WinStar Farm and Bobby Flay’s gutsy gray colt Creator unleashed a quick turn of foot late to nip pacesetter Destin by a nose in an exhilarating 2016 Belmont. The Tapit colt, who earned $1.6 million during his career, was bred by Mt. Brilliant Broodmares LLC and was purchased by WinStar’s Maverick Racing entity for $440,000 from the Gainesway consignment to the 2014 September Sale.