Commissioner Dan Tops Keeneland April Sale

The 2-year-old Commissioner Dan (Commissioner) (hip 120), who captured his debut Wednesday and was supplemented to the sale on Thursday, topped the Keeneland April Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale Sunday in Lexington with a final bid of $500,000 from Pedro Lanz, bidding on behalf of the Saudi Arabia-based KAS Stable.

Keeneland sold 67 horses Sunday for $6,743,000.  The average of $100,642 rose 9.13% over last year’s $92,224, while the median jumped 40% from $50,000 to $70,000. In 2022, 58 horses sold for $5,349,000.

“Today was very positive. This is a sale that is perfectly positioned on the calendar, immediately after the end of our Spring Meet and just before the Kentucky Derby,” Keeneland Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy said. “This sale is really evolving, and there is a lot of energy and enthusiasm surrounding it. Consignors are really happy; a lot of them were here today. We had great participation from established buyers and also new owners, and it was great to see Saudi Arabian participation.”

Commissioner Dan Tops Lanz Buying Spree

Commissioner Dan (Commissioner) was one of three lots purchased by Pedro Lanz on behalf of KAS Stables. The agent also signed for Carmel Road (Quality Road) (hip 12) for $260,000 and Naval Aviator (Tapit) (hip 81) for $170,000.

“We were looking for older horses, and I did not know there were 2-year-olds here,” Lanz said. “It was a last-minute call. When I saw Commissioner Dan and saw his numbers and saw he is by Commissioner [sire of 2023 Saudi Derby winner Commissioner King], I told them [we should bid on him]. We saw him for the first time a few days ago. We looked at his videos. He has a lot of potential.”

Lanz admitted that Carmel Road, who was second to Kentucky Derby contender Practical Move (Practical Joke) in the GII Los Alamitos Futurity, was his primary target at the sale.

“We were looking for a [son of] Quality Road for racing in Saudi Arabia,” Lanz said. “This is a great sale to find a horse with potential. He was second to one of the main contenders in the Kentucky Derby. Nice pedigree, stallion potential. We’re very happy.”

Of KAS Stable, Lanz said, “They are trying to get the best horses in North America to compete at the best level. Maybe we’ll have a horse for the Saudi Cup next year.”

Commissioner Dan was trained and co-owned by trainer Pavel Matejka, who purchased him on behalf of majority owner Bob Grayson for $40,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

“He was a really forward horse as a yearling and earlier this year,” said Matejka. “We didn’t mind that his pedigree was a little light because he looked like a horse who could train and who could run a little bit. It was lucky for us that he was in Book 6. If he had been in Book 2 or 3, I think he would have been more expensive. We just took a shot and it worked out.”

Commissioner Dan was an 11-1 outsider when he saw off heavily favored Blue Eyed Soul (Ire) (No Nay Never) to win his debut at Keeneland Wednesday (video) by 1 3/4 lengths.

Following that victory, Grayson began fielding calls from buyers interested in the colt, according to Matejka.

“We decided we might as well put him in the sale and see what the market says,” Matejka said. “The final price was one bid over the reserve. We decided that was the price we were willing to let him go at. Otherwise, we would keep him and run him in the Bashford Manor at Churchill. We would have been happy to run him because we don’t usually sell horses.”

Matejka admitted the result was bittersweet.

“My assistant and grooms were here and they were all crying,” the trainer said. “They were not happy because he was a very cool horse to be around. But I think he will be successful wherever he goes.”

Also heading to the Middle East after selling at Keeneland Sunday is Talladega (Into Mischief) (hip 76). The 3-year-old, who is coming off an allowance win at Oaklawn Apr. 8, was purchased for $320,000 by Ahmad Alabdullatif.

Kueber Racing, Big Easy Racing and Martin Schwartz teamed up to purchase Promise Me a Ride (Mastery) (hip 55) for $400,000, the second highest-price of the sale. The trio were among a large partnership on the 3-year-old, who romped by 4 1/4 lengths in his debut at Fair Grounds Mar. 19 for trainer Brad Cox.

Hibernacle to Join Walsh Barn

The 2-year-old Hibernacle (Hootenanny) (hip 100), who romped by 7 1/2 lengths in her Apr. 12 debut for owner/breeder/trainer Wesley Ward, will be joining the barn of trainer Brendan Walsh after selling for $310,000 to David Lanigan, agent for Heider Family Racing LLC.

Scott Heider admitted the operation doesn’t usually purchase 2-year-olds, but he made an exception after seeing this filly’s debut at Keeneland two weeks ago.

“I was down at Keeneland to see Flirting Bridge (Ire) (Camelot {GB}), who was coming off a layoff, and it just happened her maiden race was that day,” recalled Heider. “As I watched this filly race, she was laying fourth and third and then she made that move and showed a turn of foot which is pretty tough to do going 4 1/2 [furlongs]. When I saw she was a late supplement to the sale, I asked David Lanigan to go look at her.”

The team liked what they saw at the barn.

“Her physical make-up surprised us because she’s certainly not built like a typical sprinter,” said Heider. “This filly has way more size and scope. She’s longer and has a beautiful way of going, but she’s not fully furnished yet. And she has a tremendous mind on her. So we thought if we could secure the filly, and she had shown that early talent and looked like she was physically she was going to mature and get stronger, we thought that she might be an ideal filly to put into the program.”

The filly is entered in Thursday’s Kentucky Juvenile S. at Churchill Downs, but Heider said she would not make the line-up for the race.

“She will go to Margaux Farm for 12 to 14 days and we will let her unwind,” Heider said. “Then she will go to Brendan. If all goes well, we will send her to New York to the Astoria, but that’s still a ways off.”

Heider continued, “I don’t usually participate in this end of the market. Most everything we have goes two turns, but this filly really intrigued us. We think she could have a productive summer and into the fall. When they dropped the hammer on her, I said to Brendan, ‘I think we just sent you your first dirt bike.’ And he laughed and he said, ‘I’m excited to have a dirt bike, actually.’ We have been so pleased with Brendan for the last three or four years that we’ve worked with him. He’s been amazing. This is a little bit of a pivot for us for sure, purchasing an early 2-year-old. But I am excited to get her into Brendan’s program and to see if we can have some fun with her this summer.”

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