Qatar Racing lots light up Keeneland trade

Successful vendor Sheikh Fahad: "We've got to trade"

PICTURE: Alain Barr ( Qatar Racing lots light up trade at Keeneland By Michele MacDonald 6:39PM 8 NOV 2016

BETTER known as buyers, Sheikh Fahad al Thani and his brothers’ Qatar Racing took center stage as sellers of seven-figure broodmares as the 13-session Keeneland November sale opened in Lexington on Tuesday.

Two elite performers campaigned by Qatar Racing, Oaks runner-up Secret Gesture and US Grade 1 winner Peace And War, lit up the sale board, with Secret Gesture selling for $3.5 million to John Ferguson and Peace And War going for $1.45m to Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm.

“We’ve got to trade as well,” said a beaming Sheikh Fahad after congratulating Yoshida’s son, Shunsuke, on the purchase of Peace And War. “You have to sell some of them.”

Secret Gesture stood alone at the top of the sale results through the first 100 lots after spirited bidding for the six-year-old Galileo mare, who is in foal to War Front.

Bred by Andreas Jacobs’ Newsells Park Stud, which retained an interest in partnership with Qatar Racing, Secret Gesture earned $746,427 in a career that included a racing triumph in the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes at Arlington Park that was taken away by the stewards, who demoted her to third, and three placings in European Group 1 races.

“From our point of view, she was a mare that could make the difference. We’re delighted to have her,” Ferguson said after signing the ticket.

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Typically, from a pedigree point of view, Secret Gesture is the type of mare that Coolmore would pursue, but Ferguson and the Godolphin team have picked up the chase on individuals bred to or by War Front, who has had notable success when bred to Galileo mares. Ferguson bought three yearlings by War Front at the Keeneland September sale.

“Obviously, he’s a horse that’s done exceptionally well,” Ferguson said.

Sheikh Fahad’s bloodstock advisor David Redvers and Newsells Park general manager Julian Dollar said it was bittersweet to sell Secret Gesture.

“She was a very, very rare commodity that ideally we’d like to be in a position to keep,” Redvers said. “That’s an awful lot of money and she’s going to go to a good home and get the perfect husband, I imagine, in Dubawi.”

“We have two daughters we own, and we have the mare and she’s going back to Galileo. She has a Galileo colt foal and she’s in foal to Galileo; she’ll go back to Galileo next year,” Dollar said. “So, we’ve got the factory, if you like, and we felt like if she made right money, we could afford to let her go, and at $3.5 million, it was a great price. It was a commercial decision, really.”

Peace And War, a four-year-old who won the Darley Alcibiades as a juvenile at Keeneland and was listed as not sold last year on a bid of $1.5m at Fasig-Tipton, was sold in foal to leading American sire Tapit.

“I saw her last year and we thought she was a very good individual," Shunsuke Yoshida said. "Now she’s in foal to Tapit, so we thought we needed to pay this amount of money [in order to buy her]. I’m really happy to have her."

He added that Peace And War could be an eventual mate for leading Japanese sire Deep Impact.

“I think that’s a fair price and she’s going to a good home. I’m happy,” said Sheikh Fahad after a conversation with Yoshida in which he indicated he would return to the Japan Racing Horse Association select sale next July.

Sheikh Fahad ranked as the leading buyer at the 2014 JRHA sale, his second visit to the venue, and said he has been very pleased with his Japanese-bred runners, which include Pearl Code, runner-up in the recent Group 1 Shuka Sho.

“I think the relationship between them and us is very good,” Sheikh Fahad observed of business dealings with the Yoshida family. “We’ve bred to their stallions, which I think are top class.”

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