Pinhookers Seek September Sale Yearlings

Keeneland September graduates have delivered spectacular success to those pinhookers with keen eyes for identifying potential in young Thoroughbreds.

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Pinhookers Desire September Yearlings

Proven Pinhooking Success at Keeneland September

As the world's largest yearling auction, the Keeneland September Yearling Sale is the primary source for pinhookers, those horsemen and horsewomen who speculate on buying young horses with the intent to resell them as 2-year-olds, hopefully at a profit.  And profitable they are...

Keeneland September Sale Graduates Sold as 2-Year-Olds

2019 yearlings to 2020 2-Year-Olds not included due to pandemic-related market conditions in 2020
2020 Yearling to 2021 2-Year-Olds* $25,855,400 $62,318,000
2018 Yearling to 2019 2-Year-Olds $40,658,400 $79,265,400


*Note: Includes only horses bought at September Sale and resold as 2-year-olds; does not include RNAs in any sale and does not include yearlings bought but withdrawn from 2-year-old sales

September Key to Wavertree's Success

One prominent Florida-based horseman with a long track record of success with September Sale pinhooks is Ciaran Dunne of Wavertree Stables. Among the most recent scores for Wavertree is multiple Grade 1 winner Colonel Liam, a Liam’s Map colt bred by Phillips Racing Partnership. Offered by Darby Dan Farm’s 2018 September Sale consignment for $50,000, the colt was bought by Robert and Lawana Low as a 2-year-old at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s April sale for $1.2 million.

Wavertree also knocked it out of the park with an Uncle Mo colt purchased at Keeneland from Taylor Made Sales Agency for $335,000 that sold earlier this year as a 2-year-old for $1.2 million.

COLONEL LIAM winner of the 2021 Bourbon Turf Classic S. (G1)
Colonel Liam
This is where it happens. The meat and potatoes of what we do is Keeneland September. We have been in business for more than 20 years and if we hadn’t done well at Keeneland September we wouldn’t have been in business that long.
Ciaran Dunne, Wavertree Stables

Gamine: The Perfect Storm

In pinhooking, the goal is buy low and sell high. Brad and Misty Grady’s Grand Oaks played that to perfection when paying $220,000 for an Into Mischief yearling filly from Summerfield, agent, for breeder Grace Thoroughbred Holdings in 2018. The filly, later named Gamine, was then bought by Michael Lund Petersen as a 2-year-old for $1.8 million. After winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) in track-record time at Keeneland, Gamine was honored with an Eclipse Award as female sprint champion and has four Grade 1 wins on her resume to date.

GAMINE winner of the 2021 Derby City Distaff (G1)
She was just an Amazon; a big, outstanding mare with a beautiful head and eye, all the attributes of an athlete. She was a big mare, strong and imposing. When she walked by, everybody said, ‘Who’s that?’ It wasn’t like a secret. She was the mother lode.
Donato Lanni

Grassroots' Undermarket Horses

David McKathan and Jody Mihalic pride themselves on looking at nearly every horse that goes through the September Sale ring, seeking diamonds in the rough to be sold through their Grassroots Training and Sales. At the 2017 OBS April sale, a fast Eskendereya colt offered by Grassroots sold to Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s East Hickman Bloodstock for $140,000. That transaction represented a sevenfold return on the colt’s $20,000 Keeneland yearling price when offered by Eaton Sales, agent for breeder Edward Cox Jr. That colt, Mitole, displayed brilliance on the track for trainer Steve Asmussen, earning more than $3.1 million and receiving an Eclipse Award as champion male sprinter.

MITOLE winner of the 2019 Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1)

We do a lot of volume and we shoot for undermarket horses that might mature and turn into something.
David McKathan, Grassroots Training and Sales
MITOLE winner of the 2019 Forego S. (G1)
I've had a lot of horses, and I haven’t had one this fast. We’ve liked this horse a lot. He’s the epitome of the type of horse we try to buy.
Bill Heiligbrodt, East Hickman Bloodstock

Top Line on Top

Jimbo and Torie Gladwell’s Top Line Sales has emerged as one of the top pinhooking ventures, consistently parlaying moderately priced yearlings into standouts in the 2-year-old marketplace and on the track, as epitomized by Princess Noor. Bought by Mark Marino from Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent for breeder International Equities Holding, at the 2019 September Sale for $135,000, the Not This Time filly topped the OBS April sale when purchased by agent Gary Young for Zedan Racing Stables for $1.35 million. The filly displayed her precociousness by winning the Del Mar Debutante (G1) impressively in her second career start.

PRINCESS NOOR winner of the 2020 Del Mar Debutante (G1)
Princess Noor

She’s one of those freaky horses that doesn’t come around very often. I haven’t had a filly this talented in a couple of years, so it’s exciting.
Torie Gladwell, Top Line Sales
Espinoza was aboard PRINCESS NOOR for both of her graded stakes winning victories
She reminds me of other great horses I used to ride like American Pharoah and California Chrome. I’ve been riding amazing horses, but as a filly, she’s the best one I've ever ridden.
Victor Espinoza, Jockey

Mucho Talented

Kip Elser’s Kirkwood Stables’ knack for turning September Sale yearling purchases into profitable 2-year-olds that excel on the track was exemplified by Mucho Gusto, a Mucho Macho Man colt that earned more than $3.9 million and was victorious in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1). Bred by Teneri Farm Inc. and Bernardo Alvarez Calderon, the colt was purchased at Keeneland by S.R. Schwartz for $95,000 from the Select Sales consignment. When the colt was a 2-year-old, Michael Lund Petersen purchased him on the advice of agent Donato Lanni for $625,000.

MUCHO GUSTO winner of the 2020 Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1)
Mucho Gusto

He was a horse that was obvious, which is why he brought what he did. He worked well, came back well, cooled out well and vetted well. He kept his weight and kept his mind. He just did everything right. He got better and better. I knew he was going to be that kind of horse if he just stayed healthy.
Donato Lanni

Patience Pays off for Woods

Exemplifying Eddie Woods’ patient handling of young horses are the results of horses he has prepared for racing such as champion Authentic and with yearlings bought to resell as 2-year-olds. Offered by Woods as a 2-year-old, an American Pharoah colt out of graded stakes winner Spice Island lit up the bid board when purchased by Jamie McCalmont, agent for Coolmore Stud’s M.V. Magnier, for $1.65 million. Bred by CESA Farm, the colt was a $215,000 Keeneland September Sale purchase in 2018 from Denali Stud.

Eddie Woods

Brennan's Consistent Pinhooking Success

Niall Brennan consistently parlays September Sale purchases into profitable 2-year-olds, including a Medaglia d’Oro filly sold  for $1.2 million. Bred by Don Alberto Corporation, the filly was purchased by Gainesway for $200,000 at the 2017 September Sale.

Niall Brennan

Obviously, it’s great when you sell a big horse. That’s what you’re in the business for and it’s nice when it pans out.
Niall Brennan

A Family Affair for the de Merics

Shopping the September Sale is a family affair for the Florida-based de Meric family, and the results of their pinhooking efforts often are realized in the 2-year-old sale ring. During the 2019 OBS April sale, one of their finds, a Quality Road filly was purchased by Narvick International for $1 million. The filly, bred by Ann Marie Farms, was purchased from Lane’s End at Keeneland for $220,000.

Nick de Meric

My son, daughter-in-law, myself and my wife split up and work the September Sale. It’s the yearling sale on the global sales calendar that you cannot miss if you’re in the horse business. There is something for everybody. There is a broader cross section of sires, pedigrees and physical types than you will find under one roof anywhere.
Nick de Meric, de Meric Thoroughbred Sales