With the number of horses he had cataloged, and the quality of pages under them, Triple Crown winner Justify was expected to have a big showing with his first crop at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, and he lived up to that lofty goal in Book 1.
The resident of Ashford Stud was nipped in the final hour of the sale for the title of highest Book 1 gross by a sire, moving 25 horses over the auction’s first two days for $12,522,000. He trailed leader Into Mischief by just $278,000.
Justify also finished fifth among Book 1 sires by average sale price among those with more than one horse sold, at $500,880. It was the biggest number by a rookie stallion, with the next closest being Lane’s End resident City of Light, whose seven yearlings averaged $360,714.
“We are absolutely delighted with how the first crop of yearlings have been received so far at the Keeneland September sale,” said Robyn Murray of Ashford Stud. “They were a great bunch physically with top pedigrees to match, very indicative of the quality of mares he has bred in each of his three years at stud so far. The best validation of any horses first crop is to see who buys them, there was an international audience for them, befitting his stature and ability.”
The most expensive Justify yearling of Book 1 was Hip 161, a colt out of the stakes-placed Rockport Harbor mare Stayclassysandiego who sold to Japan-based Hideyuki Mori for $950,000. The half-brother to Grade 2 winner Pretty N Cool was consigned by Baccari Bloodstock, agent.
Bloodstock agent Barry Berkelhammer signed for a pair of Justify yearlings during Tuesday’s session on behalf of Albaugh Family Stables.
Even though he landed more Justify yearlings than most, Berkelhammer said he missed more times than he connected.
“These were the two that we could get bought,” he said. “We kept finding ourselves falling on them. I don’t go to the sale saying I was going to buy some Justifys, but I find the horses I believe in, and let the chips fall where they may. Obviously, you’d be attracted to them. He was a beautiful horse himself and a great racehorse.”
Justify has 90 yearlings cataloged in the Keeneland September sale, which is the second most by a first-crop sire, trailing only fellow Ashford Stud resident Mendelssohn at 93.
With so many in the catalog, Berkelhammer said he has had plenty of opportunities to form an impression of what a typical Justify yearling looks like.
“They’re athletic, they’re big, and they’ve got some range to them,” he said. “They look like they’re going to have turn of foot, and they’re just beautifully balanced, with great toplines and good hips. He was that way, so it’s just indicative that he’s stamping himself.
“We were fortunate enough to buy two of them, and hopefully, they’re the right two,” Berkelhammer continued. “Hopefully next year, we look smart.”
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