In its first venture into the Australian Two-Year-Old in Training market, Kirkwood sold hip 222, the Medaglia d’Oro colt for $100,000 to Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Racing. To have Gai Waterhouse involved with a purchase right off the starting blocks is a great beginning. Hip 18, the Helmet Filly sold to Philip Cole for $18,000.  The Animal Kingdom colt, hip 189 did not meet his reserve and remains available for purchase.


On Account of Kirkwood Stables, South Carolina, USA. (As Agent) (Stable B 14 – 16)

October 10 -11

18 Chestnut Filly Helmet …………………………………… Angel in Grey
189 Bay Colt Animal Kingdom (USA) ………… Never Fade (GB)
222 Bay Colt Medaglia d’Oro (USA) …………. Rose of Kentucky


Courtesy of the TDN

Kip Elser | Horsephotos

By Alayna Cullen

Horse racing is a global sport, heralded for its international festivals where the world’s greatest come to compete. Not only has racing become more of an international affair, but so, too, have sales. No matter what sale you go to in the world it is becoming increasingly common to see industry leaders from each jurisdiction congregate at major sales rings. One man who knows much about this is Kirkwood Stables’ Kip Elser, who has an exciting sales venture starting in Australia.

Known for his success at pinhooking yearlings to 2-year-olds as well as educating young racehorses, Elser has always had an eye for spotting emerging markets. As such, he has teamed up with former American-based trainer Murray Johnson to offer a ready-to-run consignment at the upcoming Magic Millions 2017 Gold Coast 2YOs-in-Training Sale Oct. 10-11 at their sales complex in Bundall, Queensland.

“My wife Helen’s dad had done some business in Australia and he suggested to us that we go take a look at things down there a few years ago. We went over for their 2-year-old sale last October at Magic Millions to see if there was room for someone new in the market and I think we see a market that is just starting to take off. I reconnected with an old friend of mine, Murray Johnson, who had been in America for a number of years but has moved back to Australia, and I went back in March and bought three yearlings to be over there with Murray and consign at the ready-to-run sale at Magic Millions in October this year.”

Based at Spring Dale Race Center in Camden, South Carolina, Elser has been pinhooking for the better part of 30 years and is no stranger to entering foreign markets.

“We have sold here (in America) at lots of different sales, and about 10 years ago we started selling at the Breeze Up at Tattersalls in England and did very well out of it. Then we started going to South Africa five or six years ago. We got introduced to a wonderful couple down there, Nicola and Mark Coppez of Balmoral Stud, and we started building a 2-year-old sales consignment with them. We’ve done great business and built the operation from 12 or so horses to over a hundred in this past year.”

Elser knows about the many variables associated with horses and sales, but thanks to the shuttling of stallions from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern, Elser was able to stay within his comfort zone to some degree when choosing yearlings to buy for the Australian venture.

“I bought a colt by Medaglia d’Oro out of Rose of Kentucky (Aus) who can go anywhere, and a colt by Animal Kingdom out of Never Fade (GB) at the Inglis Easter Sale. I also bought a Helmet (Aus)–Angel in Grey (Aus) filly. Helmet is a top 2-year-old sire in Australia and I bought the filly from Spendthrift, so I didn’t get too far off the beaten track for that part of it.”

Of the horses as individuals, Elser said he thought he had “balance in a small package. They are three very different horses, picked that way partly by design. The Medaglia d’Oro colt is a beautiful mover that looks like he will be all class for next spring in Australia. The Animal Kingdom looks a little earlier, probably quicker maturing, so she looks like she will be out early, and the Helmet filly looks to be an early 2-year-old, too.”

Although the venues and the time zones may change, some things are pre-destined to stay the same at a horse sale.

“At the end of the day it will all come down to ‘do we have the right horses?’” said Elser. “No matter where you are in the world, if you don’t have the right horses, then you’re nothing.”

That said, Elser said he was confident in his three representatives for the upcoming sale, and would be going into the Australian market with real hopes of continuing the project for years to come.

“We will make mistakes the first year,” he said. “But we will hopefully learn from those mistakes when we go back the next year, and by the end of the third year, we will have a small crop of 3-year-old graduates and hopefully a larger group of 2-year-olds out there. That will be a fair test of the market to see if there is a real opportunity there. It would be silly to go out there for a one-time deal. We want to show people that we are committed to the market down there and we want to give it a real try.”

Murray Johnson, who has been preparing the horses for the sale, said he was, “very excited about the partnership with Kip. It’s an evolving market and growing like it did in America a few years ago. There are results on the racetrack now from sales graduates and people are starting to see that the 2-year-old sales are a successful formula for the right horse.”

Speaking with Elser about the project, it is easy to see how enthusiastic he is about entering the Australian market. If the elated tone in his voice doesn’t give it away, the smile that spreads across his face when asked about the horses or his plan certainly does.

“This is the next stop,” he said. “I’m really excited by it.”

Kip Elser, Kirkwood Stables: Quote about the Keeneland Yearling Sale

Kip Elser, Kirkwood Stables:Quote about the Keeneland Yearling Sale – Book 1
“I think the top of the market as always is very, very strong as you can see by some of the bigger buyers teaming up. And I think the middle market is still very, very solid. You can buy horses, but you better be prepared to pay a bit over your original appraisals if you want to get the ones you really like.…/buyers-comment-wednesday-session

DEFIANT HONOR wins the Riskaverse S. at Saratoga

Courtesy of the TDN

Defiant Honor | Sarah Andrew

Defiant Honor, the beaten favorite in the GIII Lake George S. on opening day, made amends with a stalk-and-pounce score in the Riskaverse S. Thursday at Saratoga.

A second-out winner last fall at Belmont, the bay shipped across the country to be runner-up in the GIII Jimmy Durante S. Nov. 26 before capturing an allowance in her sophomore debut June 21 back at Big Sandy. Fading to sixth after tracking the pace in the Lake George, Defiant Honor was made the distant second chance in this feature and broke sharply before allowing favored ‘TDN Rising Star’ Cherry Lodge (Bernardini) to sprint clear through a :23.67 quarter. That one was able to slow things down past a :49.15 half, but had a tenuous lead at the top of the lane. Defiant Honor was the first to attack, quickly taking charge from the pacesetter at the three-sixteenths pole, and she kicked clear into the final furlong before holding sway late from Fizzy Friday (GB).

“I think she’s a quality filly and things went well for her today,” said winning trainer Jimmy Toner. “She had had a myectomy, where they cut the muscles in the throat because, with the displacement of the soft pallet, it cuts off the wind and they can’t breathe and they panic. But today, you can see the difference. Also, the way the race set up, there was one speed and she didn’t have to be restrained or anything. It was a perfect trip. Everything worked out today. It’s all good.”

The winner is a full-sister to ill-fated Recepta, GSW & MGISP, $696,700 and a half to Taqarub (Aldebaran), GSW, $256,962. Her dam is a half to champion Soaring Softly (Kris S.) and GISW Plenty of Grace (Roberto) out of GSW Wings of Grace (Key to the Mint). Honor Bestowed has a juvenile full-sister to the victress named Honored Promise, a yearling colt by Curlin and foaled a Speightstown colt this season before being paired with Dialed In.

RISKAVERSE S., $100,000, SAR, 8-24, (C), (NW1SRL), 3yo, f, 1mT, 1:35.67, fm.
1–#DEFIANT HONOR, 117, f, 3, by Speightstown
1st Dam: Honor Bestowed, by Honor Grades
2nd Dam: Wings of Grace, by Key to the Mint
3rd Dam: Far Beyond, by Nijinsky II
O-Phillips Racing Partnership & Pam Gartin; B-John W. Phillips
& Hank & Lynn Snowden (KY); T-James J. Toner; J-Jose
Lezcano. $60,000. Lifetime Record: 6-3-1-0, $172,015. *Full to
Recepta, GSW & MGISP, $696,700; 1/2 to Taqarub
(Aldebaran), GSW, $256,962.

Kirkwood Grad Coal Front Remains Perfect in Amsterdam G2 at Saratoga

Courtesy of the TDN

 $200,000 GII Amsterdam S. (6 1/2f) Coal Front, c, 3 by Stay Thirsty

Coal Front | Sarah Andrew

“TDN Rising Star” Coal Front kept his perfect record in tact and became the first graded stakes winner for his second-crop sire (by Bernardini) with this stylish front-running score in his stakes debut.

Sent to the front by Johnny Velazquez from his inside draw, the $575,000 OBSAPR buy held a narrow advantage through opening fractions of :22.37 and :45.90. The dark bay kicked for home in control, opened up a three-length lead in the stretch, and was never seriously threatened by Excitations, who rallied nicely from last of six to complete the exacta.

“We weren’t committed to the lead–the thing we were focused on was letting him break and kind of find his rhythm,” winning trainer Todd Pletcher said. “We knew he was fast, but we didn’t want to be in a speed duel, but we didn’t want to take away what is coming easy to him, either. We kind of left it in Johnny’s hands. Johnny said he was very relaxed, really comfortable. A really talented horse.”

Romping by 6 1/2 lengths on debut at Keeneland Apr. 20, Coal Front followed suit with a facile score in a first-level allowance at Belmont June 8. Sol Kumin’s Head of Plains Partners privately purchased a piece of the colt from Robert LaPenta following his last victory.

“It’s hard to win a race, much less the first three, and he beat a pretty strong group of older horses last time, and then to step up into a graded stakes, it just seems like he’s getting better and better,” Pletcher said.

As for what’s next, Pletcher added, “We talked about the [GI] Allen Jerkens [Aug. 26], we’ll see how he comes out of it. He’s a horse with a strong pedigree and enough talent to stretch out, when the time is right.”

Pedigree Notes:

Coal Front’s unraced dam Miner’s Secret, a half-sister to MGSW Woodlander (Forestry), is responsible for a yearling colt by Noble Mission (GB) and foaled a Pioneerof the Nile filly Feb. 28. She was bred back to Triple Crown hero American Pharoah.

Miner’s Secret went through the ring twice, bringing $250,000 from Reynolds Bell Jr., agent, at the 2006 KEESEP Yearling Sale and $52,000 from Coal Front’s breeder Michael Connelly in foal to War Pass at the 2009 KEENOV sale.