Lifetime Breeding Right To Court Vision A Rare Sight At Keeneland January Sale - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Lifetime Breeding Right To Court Vision A Rare Sight At Keeneland January Sale

Court Vision produced the second highest win payout in Breeders’ Cup history

Not every offering at the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale can be found at the end of a shank.

Friday's closing session of the January auction will feature Hip 1671S, a lifetime breeding right to Breeders' Cup Mile winner and veteran stallion Court Vision, who began his stud career in Ontario, relocated to Spendthrift Farm's Kentucky base, then was moved to Acadiana Equine at Copper Crowne in Opelousas, La., for the 2017 breeding season. It'll be the first time a stallion share, season, or breeding right has been offered at a Keeneland sale in nearly a decade.

Canadian horseman Sean Fitzhenry purchased the lifetime breeding right to Court Vision when the son of Gulch retired to Park Stud in Ontario in 2012, and he continued to support the stallion when he was moved to Kentucky in 2016. However, the breeding right had gone unused since Court Vision was sold to a group based in Louisiana and relocated to the state.

“He just doesn't have a use for it,” said consignor Keith Lancaster. “If he was still here (in Kentucky), he'd probably still be sending a mare to him, but when they sent him down to Louisiana, he's not going to send them there. He foals in Canada, and then sends the mares to me after they foal, and I raise the foals here and they either go to the sales or the racetrack.”

The breeding right could have sat dormant for the rest of Court Vision's career, if not for last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile, when Storm the Court, now universally recognized as his stallion's greatest son, outkicked Anneau d'Or to prevail at odds of 45-1.

“I pretty much decided I was going to sell this before they pulled up Storm the Court [during the gallop-out],” Fitzhenry said. “It just makes sense.”

Court Vision's breeding right will be the first time a stallion share, season, or breeding right has changed hands at a Keeneland auction since the 2011 November Breeding Stock Sale when shares in four stallions went on the block as part of the record-breaking dispersal for the late Edward P. Evans. The most expensive of the group was a share in Smart Strike, which was secured by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings for $260,000.

Though they have become increasingly uncommon in the public auction space – letting the public decide the value of a stallion's share risks affecting an overall value often dictated in private — some of the breed's biggest names have had shares and seasons traded at the fall of the hammer for lights-out prices.

A share in Nijinsky II sold to BBA (England) for $800,000 during the 1982 Keeneland November Sale. A year later, a share in the same stallion went to Lev Fanning Jr., for $1.4 million — a record price for a stallion share at the Keeneland November Sale — and another share sold to Josephine Abercrombie for $900,000 in 1984.

Other notable sires to have shares trade for big prices at auction include Mr. Prospector ($550,000 at the 1981 Keeneland January sale); Nureyev ($900,000 at the 1989 Keeneland November Sale); Lyphard ($750,000 at the 1981 Keeneland November Sale); and Halo ($750,000 at the 1983 Keeneland November Sale).

Fitzhenry is no stranger to the niche space in the auction market, having purchased a share in Medaglia d'Oro for $150,000 at the 2006 Keeneland January sale, just ahead of the horse's second year at stud.

“Some people said I paid too much, some people said I got a good deal,” he said. “It's just a risk. It's like anything else in this business. You pay your money and your take your chances.

“When Darley bought Medaglia d'Oro, they made me an offer I couldn't refuse, and I sold them my breeding right,” Fitzhenry continued. “We're sending a mare to him this year, so it's kind of come full-circle.”

So, how do people market something at a horse auction that can't be pulled out of a stall? Lancaster said he largely hasn't.

“It's just there, and we're just hoping there's enough people from the regional markets that are going to be here the last few days that have an interest in that regional market,” he said. “If they don't, it's going to sell for nothing, but if it does, there will be a little activity on it. There's not any board bill on it, but if you're not going to use it, why keep it?

“I feel like Keeneland placed it in a good spot, because people in Louisiana, Texas, down in that country will be here later in the sale,” Lancaster continued. “He just needs to move it, and hopefully somebody will get a good deal from it.”

Before Storm the Court usurped the mantle, the title for best runner by Court Vision arguably belonged to Mr. Havercamp, a gelding bred and raced by Fitzhenry who has racked up victories in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes and Autumn Stakes at Woodbine, and the G3 Forbidden Apple Stakes at Saratoga.

Knowing what he does about what it takes to breed a serious runner by Court Vision, Fitzhenry had a bit of advice for whoever signs the ticket when the hammer falls.

“If he gets the right mares, he'll be okay,” he said. “He's got a great female side. The only thing with him is you've got to breed a mare with some size. A bigger mare brings out the best in him.”

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