Havre de Grace sold for $10 million at the Fasig-Tipton November sale Monday night, the highest sale price for a horse since 2008.
The 2011 Horse of the Year was bought by Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm. The 5-year-old mare was from Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm.
She is one of only a handful of horses to ever sell for $10 million or more. The world record for a horse at public auction was set in 2006 when The Green Monkey sold for $16 million.
Havre de Grace is only the second reigning horse of the year to sell at public auction and the first in a quarter century. Lady’s Secret sold for $5.4 million in 1987.
The daughter of 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam won nine of 16 career starts with nearly $2.6 million in earnings. She earned more than $1.6 million of that total during her championship campaign, winning five of seven races, including the Woodward against males. She finished fourth in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic and won her only race in 2012 before being retired in April due to an ankle injury.
”She’s everything a race horse could be. She did everything a race horse could do,” Pope said following the sale. ”She’s the epitome of what we’re all trying to breed as far as conformation and racing ability. Hopefully she will pass that on to her foals.”
Pope, a Florida-based commercial breeder, had valued the horse between $6 million and $8 million but pressed a few million more for the rare chance to buy a champion.
”I thought we had her and I was pretty happy there at that point,” Pope said about a $7 million bid. ”This was more than I thought she’d bring. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime-shot and I’m taking a shot at it.”
The sale is the highest for any horse since 2008, when Better Than Honour set the record for a broodmare or broodmare prospect at $14 million.
”I set a very reasonable reserve and I was very surprised she brought this kind of money. But I think she deserves it,” Porter said.
”It’s always hard when you’ve got a horse like that you’ve spent so much time watching perform the way she did. It was hard when I went over to say goodbye to her today,” Porter said. ”It was exciting that she brought what she deserved because she’s got the whole package.”
Porter breeds very few horses, instead choosing to sell his best at the end of their racing careers and reinvesting in future racing prospects. Porter purchased her as a yearling in 2008 for $380,000.
Pope said she had a short list of stallions in mind for Havre de Grace’s first mating and that her first foal would likely hit the sales ring as a yearling in 2014.
”We need to get her to help pay for herself so we’ll breed her for the purpose of selling (the foals) to begin with.”
Havre de Grace was named after the former Maryland track that hosted some of best horses of all time, including Man o’ War and Citation, and last held races in 1950.