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Record Bid for Better Than Honour

Sunday started the 2008 November mixed sales with a world-record broodmare price of $14 million for 2007 Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour.

The bid was placed by Southern Equine Stables who wanted to buy out its partnership with Hill 'n' Dale Farm. This would raise its ownership stake from 70 percent to 100 percent in an exciting bidding performance that lasted just under two minutes.

Last year at the 2007 Keenland November sale, Darley Stud paid a shabby $10.5 million for Playful Act. This sum pales in comparison to Better Than Honour's $14 million price. Like Playful Act, Better Than Honour was not in foal at the time of sale.

The single session sold 91 horses for $70,279,000, up 35 percent from last year's gross for 107 horses. Average price leaped 59 percent, from $486,318 to $772,297, and median climbed 39 percent, from $180,000 to $250,000. But the buy-back rate also increased, from 26 percent to 39 percent.

Among the more startling buy-backs were Backseat Rhythm, bought back at $2.5 million, and Miraculous Miss, who failed to reach her reserve on a $1.1 million bid.

Better Than Honour entered the auction ring as the last horse of the sale but she was expected to do well at auction since she is the only mare to ever produce consecutive Belmont Stakes winners. The bay Deputy Minister mare also is the dam of Peter Pan Stakes winner and Japanese star Casino Drive.

Auctioneer Walt Robertson cheekily asked for $20 million, but bidding opened at a more sedate $1 million before skyrocketing to $10 million. That was Sikura's final bid, put up as a statement as much as a serious offer.

"I bid to $10 million because I thought she was deserving of the world record," he said. "I guess if they came to me with the ticket for $10 million, I would have stammered a little bit, but I would've signed it. But for me it was really a statement that I thought she should eclipse the record."

Asked what his bidding strategy was, Southern Equine principal Mike Moreno said, "Take her home. She's the best mare in the world. We're in this thing for the long term, and you can't build a long-term operation without blue hen mares. She's it. She's a Picasso. You can't sell a mare like this."

Better Than Honour's stratospheric price put everything else in the shade. But the evening produced 18 other seven-figure horses. Four horses, including Better Than Honour, sold for $3 million or more.

Kentucky's November mixed sales were to move to Keeneland on Monday, where the sale is scheduled to run through Nov. 17. Sessions begin daily at 10 a.m.


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