A while back, we chronicled our unsuccessful attempt to sell Atlantic Rainbow’s yearling colt by The Factor (now named Nautical Nature) at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. We ended by noting that our 2016 crop of filly foals could still turn things around for us this year depending on how they ended up selling, and – with a slight variation on the original plan – that is just what happened at the recent Keeneland November Sale.
Our original business model called for Housatonic to foal its mares in Maryland each spring, then ship to Shawhan Place in Kentucky where the mares would be bred back to Kentucky stallions. The Maryland-bred foals would accompany their dams to Kentucky and be raised at Shawhan, then sold each year at the Keeneland November Sale while their dams would eventually ship back to Maryland to deliver their next foals the following year.
As we mentioned, we had already deviated from that plan last year with Nautical Nature, and we did so again this year by entering Hula Skirt herself along with her Twirling Candy filly and Curlin’s Needle’s Data Link filly in the November Sale. When the Curlin’s Needle filly was placed late in Book 6 of the auction, and with the less-than-warm reception that Nautical Nature had received in Kentucky in September fresh in our mind, we decided to scratch that filly from this sale, and we will instead sell her in Maryland next fall as a yearling – our hope being that as a Maryland-bred by a Kentucky stallion, she will attract more viewers (and bidders) at Timonium than she would have in Kentucky, especially if Data Link can get a couple of nice first-crop winners before that sale.
Selling Hula Skirt this November was not something that we had contemplated when we purchased her not even a year ago at the Keeneland January Sale. At that point, she looked like a nice addition to our broodmare band – a young mare from a great family, in foal to an up-and-coming young stallion.
But, given the way that things worked out this fall and with only two foals to sell this winter to generate cash for next year (and one of those conceived on just a $7,500 stud fee), we were forced to improvise. And Hula Skirt, safely in-foal to a solid Kentucky stallion and with several strong family updates over the course of the year, was the likeliest candidate to generate a sufficient sale price to fund the continuation of our endeavor for another year.
Luckily, this time things went our way. Just a week after her “cousin” Avenge finished 3rd in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, Hula Skirt exceeded our expectations by selling for $65,000, one hip before her Twirling Candy filly brought a final bid of $52,000 – a nice return for us on a package that cost $50,000 just ten months earlier. And in a fun footnote, Hula Skirt’s Twirling Candy filly was purchased by the Zayat Stable, who campaigned American Pharoah (among others). They also purchased a yearling colt this summer by Giant’s Causeway out of Avenge’s dam, Lerici, so they clearly believe in the family.
There are a few drawbacks to these nice sales. First, given that the Zayats do not maintain a stable in Maryland, we will be unlikely to collect any Breeder Bonuses from the filly down the road; then again, it is conceivable that, if they send her to one of the New York-based trainers that they regularly use, she could ship down to run at Pimlico or Laurel – though we would kind of rather see her end up with Bob Baffert, who has had the most success of any trainer with Grade 1 winners out of Dixie Union mares, namely Mor Spirit, New Year’s Day and Klimt. Relatedly, if the filly does well on the track, whether in Maryland or elsewhere, we will not be able to benefit through increased prices for Hula Skirt’s future foals, having sold the mare as well. And finally, we believe that the cross of First Samurai over Hula Skirt is going to be a successful one (in addition to Mor Spirit, who was already a Grade 1 winner when we chose First Samurai, the Giant’s Causeway over Dixie Union cross is also responsible for this summer’s TDN Rising Star Cairo Healer, trained by Bob Baffert for the Zayats), and although we planned that mating, we will not receive credit as breeders of the foal when it is born next spring.
But those add up to a small price paid in exchange for the chance to continue creating Housatonic Stables-bred babies in the years to come.