'I Was Distraught': Havre De Grace Yearling 'Still For Sale' After Seven-Figure Reserve Mix-Up - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘I Was Distraught’: Havre De Grace Yearling ‘Still For Sale’ After Seven-Figure Reserve Mix-Up

Pope examines a different yearling at the Keeneland September sale

The highly-anticipated sale of the first colt out of Horse of the Year Havre De Grace at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale did not go as planned on Tuesday for breeder Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm and consignor Timber Town Stables. The hammer dropped on the son of War Front at $1.9 million, which would have made both the session and sale topper on the second day of Keeneland September's first book, so a few eyebrows raised when the Keeneland staff did not bring a ticket out, indicating the reserve had not been met.

In a statement to the media following the sale, Pope said she was also surprised, because unknown to her, a higher, incorrect reserve had been placed on the horse before the sale. As she watched the bidding, she was under the impression the horse had sold before the hammer dropped, and was shocked to learn otherwise from Timber Town Stables principal Wayne Sweezey.

“I was distraught after it,” Pope said. “I thought the horse had sold, and then Wayne came and said, 'No,' and I was in a state of shock.”

Pope declined to state the reserve she had intended to place on the horse and did not speculate as to how the mistake happened, except that the appropriate people had taken responsibility for the error. She said interested buyers had been advised of the reserve she'd intended to place on the horse during the past few days as the horse showed at Barn 8 and in the back ring Tuesday.

Keeneland's director of sales Geoffrey Russell later declined comment on exactly how the mix-up may have happened, except to say that the issue was between Pope and Sweezey, and the reserve Keeneland was given was the reserve auctioneers worked toward.

“We told [agents] the reserve was one thing, and then we ran it way past that, and that's not what we intended to do at all,” Pope said. “I've been in this business and always been honest and done things the right way. I want people to understand that this was a total mix-up. I did not intend for this to happen. What I would like to say is that I apologize to all the agents that thought that we were trying to take advantage of them. We certainly were not.”

Pope believed a number of buyers were in around the intended reserve, and stopped bidding after they saw competition increase.

When Pope purchased Havre de Grace at Fasig-Tipton's November sale for $10 million in 2012, she stated her intention was to sell colts out of the multiple Eclipse champion and keep the fillies to race and add to her own program. Havre de Grace has produced a 2-year-old Tapit filly and a weanling Tapit filly, which she intends to keep. That is still her intention, and she said Tuesday afternoon the colt is still for sale privately.

“I wanted to sell this one,” she said. “The horse is still for sale at a reasonable price, and hopefully people will come back and look at him again or talk with Wayne and Cathy [Sweezey]. I would be interested in keeping a part of the horse to do a partnership.

“The most important thing is for the horse to have a good home, and if that's with me, I guess that's what I want.”

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