By Jessica Martini
Four years ago, Tom Hinkle, brother Henry and daughter Anne Archer watched a weanling colt by Uncle Mo go through the sales ring at the 2013 Keeneland November sale, attracting a final bid of $180,000. The team jumped into action to secure the colt’s dam Seeking Gabrielle (Forestry) for $100,000 just one hip later. The purchase proved to be fortuitous when that weanling, who sold for $230,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale the following fall and for $400,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale, went on to become champion 2-year-old and GI Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. Hinkle Farms will offer a half-brother by Flatter to the champion as hip 84 during Monday’s Book 1 session of the Keeneland September sale.
“I was there at the sale with my dad and my uncle,” recalled Anne Archer Hinkle. “It’s always great when a mare sells at the same time as her foal. That way you can kind of gauge what you think other foals out of her will look like. [Nyquist] was great looking. He sold really, really well. He sold one hip in front of her and we were walking into the sales pavilion to get a seat and I just remember everybody saying, ‘Wow–he sold really well for an Uncle Mo.’ That was Uncle Mo’s first crop at the time and not that many people had seen too many of his weanlings. He was not Uncle Mo yet. I’m sure there were people out there smarter than us who knew what he was going to turn into now, but we certainly didn’t know that at the time.”
The 2013 auction was Seeking Gabrielle’s second straight appearance at the November sale. The mare, with Nyquist in utero, RNA’d for $90,000 in 2012.
“There is nothing wrong with the mare,” Hinkle said. “She is attractive, but she is not a show-stopper. I think she is one of those mares that, her foals are more striking and more attractive than she is. She is just not flashy.”
Of the mare’s appeal to her family’s commercial breeding operation, Hinkle added, “We were looking for more mares that year. When we purchased her, she was in foal to Blame, and I know my dad and my uncle were especially excited about Blame and thought it would be great to have another foal by him. Then after seeing how great the weanling was, I think that was even more reason to go for the mare. Honestly, I think we were surprised when she only sold for what she did. And now, of course, that looks like a bargain.”
The yearling received another boost when his sire Flatter was represented by recent GI Travers S. winner West Coast.
“That was great–we all shared a text between ourselves,” Hinkle said. “It was perfect timing. But Flatter is a really great sire, so there is no reason why he can’t have really top-tier horses.”
Hip 84 is one of two half-siblings to Kentucky Derby winners scheduled to sell at Keeneland next Monday. Dromoland Farm will offer a half-sister by Pioneerof the Nile to 2017 Derby winner Always Dreaming (Bodemeister) as hip 124.
Hinkle admitted having such a well-related yearling in the shedrow provides the consignment with an extra bit of buzz.
“We’re really fortunate just to have the family on the farm and to own the mare,” she said. “For a small consignment like ours, it’s definitely really exciting. We just hope when he gets there, he lives up to the hype. Because he certainly does have a lot of hype around him. It’s a special thing to be the only Flatter in Book 1, as well.”
Seeking Gabrielle produced a filly by Blame in 2014. That foal sold for $330,000 to Bridlewood Farm at the 2015 Keeneland September sale. The mare produced a filly by War Front this year and is currently in foal to Tapit.
“Historically, we try to sell everything, so the plan now, and when we bred to War Front, is to sell the foal,” Hinkle said. “That’ll be a decision that we have to finalize further down the road. Of course it’s always in the back of your mind, at one point I know we’ll want to hold on to a filly of hers and you can’t do much better than War Front. But that foal will be so appealing to so many people. It’s hard to turn away from that as well. The mare is back in foal to Tapit and she’s carrying a colt. We’ve taken a big swing with her, but I think she’s worth it and she’s proven herself.”
Hinkle Farms will offer three yearlings during the Monday’s Book 1 session. In addition to the Flatter colt, the farm will also send an Orb half-sister to multiple Grade I winner Divisidero (Kitten’s Joy) (hip 44) through the sales ring; as well as hip 100, a daughter of Candy Ride (Arg) out of stakes placed Sweet Tess (Afleet Alex).
Hinkle Farms purchased Madame du Lac (Lemon Drop Kid), with Divisidero in utero, for $150,000 at the 2011 Keeneland November Sale.
“She is so beautiful,” Hinkle said of the Orb yearling. “She has a massive walk and everything out of that mare has the best temperament. They are all smart and this yearling is exactly the same way. She’s also the only Orb in Book 1.”
Madame du Lac’s Bernardini colt RNA’d for $60,000 at last year’s September sale. Hinkle Farms retained a 50% interest in the colt, who has been training at Fair Hill, and will campaign him in partnership with Gunpowder Farms, which owns Divisidero.
Hinkle Farms purchased Sweet Tess, in foal to Candy Ride, for $250,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November sale. The mare is a half-sister to GISP Lady Melesi (Colonial Affair), dam of MGSP Seruni (Saint Liam).
“She is a beautiful, beautiful mare,” Hinkle said of Sweet Tess. “We’re all so pleased with this filly. She is big and she has plenty of bone. Sometimes you worry with the first foal, you worry that they might be a little slight, but she is not. She is super strong. I think people are really going to like her.”
Hinkle Farms has catalogued 21 yearlings to the Saratoga sale, including an additional five yearlings in Book 2.
“We are also really pleased with our Book 2 yearlings, which include colts by Curlin, Pioneer of the Nile, and Uncle Mo and fillies by Arch and Into Mischief,” Hinkle added.
The draft also includes a half-sister by City Zip to recent P.G. Johnson S. winner Orbolution (Orb) (hip 1762).
Hinkle Farms currently is home to a broodmare band of close to 40 head.
“Or, as my dad said earlier today, ‘Too many,” Hinkle laughed. “We are selling a few in November because we have to cut down on our numbers, but we need to have enough. You can’t just have five or six mares if you are trying to sell foals as yearlings. We’ve realized if you bring too few to the sales, if the big ones that you’re really banking on doing well don’t do as well for you as you’re hoping, it can be harder to come back from that. You just need enough numbers to have a little bit of a safely net.”
The farm traditionally offers all of its crop as yearlings, but in an unusual turn, will sell some weanlings at the upcoming Keeneland November sale.
“This year we are selling three weanling colts, but that is only because we have 18 colts and eight fillies and we don’t have enough paddocks for when they get to be yearlings to separate all the colts. Some years, it is a really even 50-50 split, but we were really hit hard by colts this year. It isn’t a bad thing, but we do have to let a few go.”
Following in her father and uncle’s footsteps, Hinkle is the third generation of her family to help operate the 1,000-acre Hinkle Farms in Paris, Kentucky. The 27-year-old will be making her third trip to the September sale as the farm’s director of bloodstock services, but she originally had other plans.
“My senior year in college, I was really dead-set on going to veterinarian school,” Hinkle said. “When I got out of school, I worked for some small animal hospitals and, I think going through the application process and actually getting some real experience in that setting, I just realized I didn’t quite think it was for me.”
She continued, “But even early on in college, I thought whatever I do, I always want to be able to help out with the farm. My dad and my uncle did other things–they were really involved in highway construction–and my dad managed the farm, as well. So that was a lofty goal of mine. But then when I decided I didn’t want to go to vet school, I talked to my dad and my uncle about working full time for the farm and they were kind enough to find a place for me. And I’ve been working with the farm ever since.”
Hinkle is clearly relishing her role at the farm which is steeped in generations of her family’s history.
“It’s been really fulfilling to be involved with something that is so special to my family and to be able to work with my family,” she said. “Most people look up to their dad and think that he hung the moon. That’s how I feel. I know that I have such a special opportunity to learn from my family members, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for. Of course it’s challenging learning how to work with family when you’re just used to interacting with them on a personal level, but it’s been a great experience and I’ve learned so much from them. I know I have a lifetime more to learn, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far.”
The Keeneland September sale begins Monday at 3 p.m.