The following article appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
The purchase of the highest-priced lot at the opening session of Keeneland’s September yearling sale on Sunday was not the result of extensive planning and organization. It was mostly serendipity.
The big bay son of A.P. Indy and the Deputy Minister mare Malka brought a final bid of $1.4 million from Jerry and John Amerman and Robert “Shel” Evans, who now own the colt with co-owner and -breeder John Sikura of Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm.
Sikura set the process in motion on Sunday morning when Evans was out looking at yearlings with his racing manager, Patrick Lawley-Wakelin; trainer Neil Drysdale, and Drysdale’s wife Shawn Dugan, who is also a purchasing agent for Evans.
Lawley-Wakelin said, “We went to the Hill ‘n’ Dale consignment to look at yearlings, and John said he had a special horse to show us. He said the colt was the ‘spitting image’ of his sire A.P. Indy, but that he wanted Neil (who trained the classic winner and champion) to confirm that.”
The response was very positive.
Dugan said, “The colt was a stunning athlete, very smooth.” The other members of the party were equally excited about the big colt.
Evans said, “Neil fell in love with him. The colt looks just like A.P.” Without further ado, they sent the technicians through their paces, and before long, Evans said, “We knew the colt vetted, passed the heart scan, and Sikura said he wanted to stay in on the horse.”
Lawley-Wakelin said, “This was a unique situation that came together quickly. When the horse came out, we all loved him. He has beautiful conformation, is a grand horse, has a lovely walk, and showed himself well. He was very professional.”
It was obvious, however, that this colt was going to be very expensive, more so than Evans was interested in undertaking on his own.
Lawley-Wakelin explained that “Shel was here to sell horses, to look at a couple of yearlings in his brother’s estate dispersal, and this colt was not on his radar.
“To give you an idea of how quickly this developed, we saw the colt about 10:30 or 11 on Sunday morning, had lunch, and then started thinking about how to put this deal together.”
The sticking point was that although Sikura wanted to retain a portion of the colt and Evans wanted to buy an interest, that left a remaining share in the colt without a buyer. It could have been a deal killer.
“We were standing in a barn at Keeneland,” Lawley-Wakelin said, “talking about who could be part of this deal when Bob Feld strolled into the barn. He is the agent for the Amermans, whom Neil and Shawn also know well. Bob and the Amermans liked this colt a lot, but like Shel, they didn’t want to put all the money up.”
They were interested in having a share, however.
The result was a plan to acquire the colt, and that evening it went into action. The A.P. Indy colt handled himself very well, and Dugan said “the groom who took care of this colt really knew his business. The colt was composed when he came up to the sales pavilion, was not fighting the lead, and showed his confidence in the handler beside him.”
That mature attitude followed the colt into the sales ring, where a dust-up of the monetary sort resulted in the colt becoming the property of the Amermans, Evans, and Sikura.
For the next few weeks, the colt will be turned out at Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, then go to Bill Harrigan for breaking and early training at his Miacomet Farm near Lexington.
In time, the colt will go into training with Drysdale, who expressed his sense of the young athlete’s promise as a racehorse. Dugan said one of the qualities that most impressed her was the colt’s mental attitude. “He didn’t seem destabilized by the sales activity. In fact, he seemed to enjoy it.”
That is a positive for a prospective racehorse who will face greater bustle and noise at a racetrack. “He already has an attitude, and that confidence and presence of mind can be channeled and become a positive for competition in the hands of a professional like Bill,” Dugan concluded.
If the colt follows a pattern of progress similar to his sire, he will come to hand by the fall of his 2-year-old season, and we can await the results with pleasant hopes and dreams.