On Top at the Spa
The list of Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduates that have graced the winner’s circle at the elite summer meet at Saratoga Race Course reads like a “Who’s Who” of North American racing.
Eight of the last 10 winners of the Travers (G1)—“The Midsummer Derby”—went through the sales ring in September, including champion 3-year-olds Arrogate and West Coast. Other September Sale grads that excelled at the Spa recently include champions Monomoy Girl, Covfefe, Mitole and Drefong, among countless other stars.
In 2020 alone, 19 of Saratoga’s graded stakes were won by September Sale graduates, including 13 grade 1 winners—Channel Maker, Echo Town, Gamine, Global Campaign, Halladay, Improbable, Jackie’s Warrior, Paris Lights, Serengeti Empress, Swiss Skydiver, Vequist, Vexatious and Volatile—five of whom earned Eclipse Awards for their campaigns.
Whitney Propels Improbable to the Top
Fractious in the gate before the Whitney (G1), Improbable overcame that hiccup to score an impressive victory in the historic fixture, propelling him to the top of the older horse ranks. The 2020 champion older dirt male for WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing, Improbable finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland. The son of City Zip was bred by St. George Farm and G. Watts Humphrey and was a $200,000 September Sale purchase from Taylor Made Sales Agency, which acquired him as a weanling at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale for $110,000.
Swiss Skydiver Soars in Alabama
A true rags-to-riches racehorse, Peter J. Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver captured the 140th renewal of the Alabama (G1) at the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles before going on to defeat eventual Horse of the Year Authentic in the rescheduled Preakness (G1). The Daredevil filly, who earned an Eclipse Award in 2020 as champion 3-year-old filly, was bred by WinStar Farm and purchased by her trainer, Kenny McPeek, for $35,000 from the Select Sales consignment to the 2018 September Sale. She has earned more than $2.1 million to date.
Another Filly Shines
After winning the Acorn (G1) at Belmont by 18 3/4 lengths, Michael Lund Petersen’s Gamine made short work of the Test (G1) at Saratoga, with a 7-length romp. The Test further enhanced the Into Mischief filly’s resume and she was honored with an Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter after winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) at Keeneland in track-record time. Bred by Grace Thoroughbred Holdings, Gamine was sold for $220,000 when offered by Summerfield at the September Sale; she was subsequently bought by Petersen for $1.8 million as a 2-year-old.
Vequist in Grade 1 Maiden Win
Also using the 2020 Saratoga meet as a springboard to an Eclipse Award was eventual champion 2-year-old filly Vequist, a daughter of Nyquist who broke her maiden with a 9 1/2-length win in the Spinaway (G1). The juvenile miss concluded her championship campaign with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Keeneland for trainer Robert “Butch” Reid, Jr., and the ownership group of Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Swilcan Stables. Vequist was offered by Brookdale Sales, as agent for breeder Swilcan Stables, at the 2019 September Sale.
Global Campaign in Woodward
Sagamore Farm and WinStar Farm’s Global Campaign shook off heavily favored Tacitus to post a mild upset in the Woodward (G1) in the Curlin colt’s Grade 1 debut last summer. Trained by Stanley Hough, Global Campaign was bred by co-owner WinStar and bought by Sagamore for $250,000 from the Select Sales consignment at the 2017 September Sale. Global Campaign also finished third in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland.
Third Time’s the Charm
Unsuccessful in two previous attempts in the Sword Dancer Invitational (G1) that included a runner-up effort in 2018, Channel Maker led from start to finish to take the 2020 edition of the 1 1/2- mile test over Saratoga’s inner grass course. The eventual champion male turf horse was bred in Ontario by Tall Oaks Farm. Trained by Bill Mott for Randy Hill’s R.A. Hill Stable, Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Channel Maker was a 2015 September Sale yearling when offered by Warrendale Sales. The son of English Channel also finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland.
Impressive 2-Year-Old Colt
J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Jackie’s Warrior burst from the gate on top and never looked back en route to an impressive victory in the Runhappy Hopeful (G1), the second graded win of the 2020 Spa meet for the 2-year-old son of Maclean’s Music who had also won the Saratoga Special (G2) in similar fashion. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Jackie’s Warrior was a $95,000 September Sale purchase from Taylor Made Sales Agency. He was bred by J & J Stables.
‘The Gift That Keeps Giving’
After overcoming a slow start, Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress quickly took charge for a rail-skimming victory in the Ballerina (G1), giving the Alternation filly a second Grade 1 score to go along with a victory in the 2019 Kentucky Oaks. A $70,000 purchase from Brookdale Sales at the 2017 September Sale, the filly bred by Tri Eques Bloodstock closed out her career with a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) at Keeneland.