Fillies by Dynaformer, Distorted Humor crack $1 million

- -

Sustainable living is quickly becoming one of the more popular lifestyles in the world today, yet it’s been pretty prominent in the Thoroughbred industry for generations. The best breed-to-race operations will, from time to time, strategically put some of their more well-bred and athletic horses up for sale, letting the commercial market dictate their value and at the same time bring in some capital to use for any number of things.

Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm did it this year, targeting the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale of selected yearlings for a daughter of Dynaformer from a family it bought into back in 2007, bred a top-tier stakes winner out of and nurtures to this day at the famed Lexington farm.

The decision was rewarded Monday night when the Brazilian Borges Torrealba paid $1,225,000 for the half sister to multiple graded stakes winner Optimizer to top the sale’s opening session. The filly was sold by John Stuart’s Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services Inc., and Calumet manager Eddie Kane said there was some hesitation to put the filly through the ring but it was a good move for the farm.

“It was a little bit, but we have to have a sustaining operation and sometimes you have to sell some of your good ones,” Kane said. “We weren’t going to give her away and everything worked out well.”

The filly, easily the talking horse on the grounds for the 67 yearlings that went through the ring, was one of two seven-figure sales on the night. The other was Hip 23, a filly by Distorted Humor from the family of Belmont Stakes winners Rags to Riches and Jazil, purchased by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation.

The session-topping filly certainly wasn’t given away and she was certainly in demand.

Bidding was fast and furious for the dark bay or brown filly, who was a little more refined than most Dynaformers yet still in the mold of the late sire. Bids flew in from all corners of the Humphrey S. Finney sales pavilion, so much that afterwards Fasig-Tipton announcer Terence Collier remarked that he hadn’t heard that much noise in the house “in a long, long time. You couldn’t hear anything in here.”

The filly started at $200,000 and quickly ripped through $100,000 increments before dropping down to $50,000 bids from $750,000 to the seven-figure mark. Robert Clay, standing in the upstairs balcony inside the pavilion and bidding alongside Doug Cauthen on the phone with Torrealba, fended off stubborn underbidders that included bloodstock agent John Moynihan in the seats downstairs, the bids inching past $1 million and then in $50,000 and $25,000 increments until settling at $1.225-million.

“It’s a big price,” Clay said afterwards. “It’s nice to get a Dynaformer filly for him. There aren’t that many left. She’s a lovely Dynaformer; a lot of size, lot of quality. She’s a beautiful mover and a really nice filly. We were on the phone [with Torrealba]. We’ve been looking at her on his behalf.”

As quickly as the bidding ended Clay’s iPhone lit up, the name Borges Torrealba popped up on the screen and away the owner of Three Chimneys Farm went to talk to the man whose family invested in the Midway, Kentucky-based farm last November.

Kane said the price was more than he expected and was quick to deflect credit to the man who operates Calumet through an investment trust company he owns that bought it for more than $35-million back in May 2012.

“That was fun,” Kane said. “We were thinking maybe $600,000, maybe 6, maybe 7. All the credit goes to Mr. Kelley. He put the mating together and we wanted to put a good horse out for sale and she was one of our top horses and it all worked out.”

To read the rest of the opening session recap, check out today’s edition of The Saratoga Special.