Treasure Hunting Presented By Keeneland: Youalmosthadme Was A Book 6 Star For Hancock - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Treasure Hunting Presented By Keeneland: Youalmosthadme Was A Book 6 Star For Hancock

Youalmosthadme wins on debut at Keeneland.

Value can be found at every level of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, and in the “Treasure Hunting” series, we'll be examining successful graduates of the bellwether auction who sold below the median price of their particular session.

We'll start at Book 1 and go all the way to Book 6, talking to buyers who found horses that slipped under the commercial radar in their given segment of the marketplace. 

Much of the buying during Book 6 of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale takes place in the back ring, with shoppers looking at horses for the first time just minutes before they go through the ring.

Trainer John Hancock came to the final book of the 2022 sale with a plan, and he was rewarded nicely for sticking to it.

The Henderson, Ky.-based horseman started the day zeroing in on Hip 3778, an Oxbow filly who he landed for $12,000 – a few bids below the session median of $15,000. In less than a year, the filly later named Youalmosthadme was a head-turning first-out winner at Keeneland's spring meet, and Hancock sold her privately for multiples on her initial sale price.

“Believe it or not, she was the key horse that day for us,” Hancock said. “My daughter, my grandson, and my cousin all looked at the page on her, and the second dam was a mare called May Gator, who we all knew because she raced in Kentucky, and we liked that mare. We clued in on her. We knew that the Oxbows that we had seen were really fast, and we if we could put this together, she could be really rapid at 4 1/2 furlongs.”

Pope McLean's Crestwood Farm consigned Youalmosthadme, as agent. The filly is out of the stakes-placed Good and Tough mare Good Gator.

A perennial top trainer of 2-year-olds on the Kentucky circuit, Hancock frequently purchases yearlings with the aim of debuting them as early juveniles during the Keeneland Spring meet or early in the Churchill Downs spring/summer meet. If the horse shines in one of those early races, he'll sell them privately.

“I've been fortunate enough over the years that I have a lot of clients out there,” Hancock said. “It's kind of funny, they'll start tagging my phone in March, 'What do you got?' They start keeping up with them and asking for their names, so I'll send them some names and they'll start tracking their breezes. About the last eight to ten years, it's been like that.”

After he signed the ticket, Hancock took Youalmosthadme back to western Kentucky, where he began her basic training at Ellis Park. The trainer said having the “real world” experience of getting started on a racetrack is invaluable to his charges.

“Ellis Park has been awfully good to me to let me bring my babies in to break them in the fall, and I get 60 days on a big racetrack with them,” he said. “Churchill Downs owns the track now, and it works out good for them, since a lot of them run there over the spring and summer.”

After getting her start at Ellis Park, Hancock sent Youalmosthadme to the farm of G.W. Parrish in Florida for 45 days. The reviews from Parrish confirmed what Hancock thought he already knew.

“He called me one morning and said, 'This filly's a freak,'” Hancock said.

Youalmosthadme returned to Hancock's care in January, joining him at Turfway Park for finishing touches before the Keeneland spring meet in April.

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The filly was entered for her debut at Keeneland on April 19, and she dominated the 4 1/2-length race, drawing away to win by 8 1/2 lengths.

Hancock said potential buyers were chilly on Youalmosthadme in the days leading up to the race. His phone was much busier after the filly crossed the wire.

“I had 12 calls in three days, and out of those 12, probably eight of them were the biggest people in the business trying to buy her,” he said. “One owner called himself and said, 'I don't need my trainer calling, I'm calling you.'”

Jake Ballis, owner of Black Type Thoroughbreds, came forward with the most appealing bid, bringing with him a partnership that included Qatar Racing, Swinbank Stables, and Steve Adkisson. The deal was done on a handshake, and when the money was wired to Hancock a few days later, the filly moved to the barn of trainer Brad Cox.

Youalmosthadme provided immediate dividends for her new owner, taking the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes on May 4 at Churchill Downs by an easy 8 3/4 lengths. A stumbled start cost the filly her unbeaten streak in the Ellis Park Debutante Stakes in August, but she recovered to finish third.

The filly is scheduled to compete next in the Grade 3 Pocahontas Stakes on Sept. 16 at Churchill Downs.

Youalmosthadme_Sept 22_Hip 3778 from Lauren Warren on Vimeo.

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