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Monday, August 11, 2008

Better Than Honour is Better Than Gold

Certainly the most tantalizing broodmare headed to the auction block at Fasig-Tipton’s November Kentucky Selected Fall Mixed sale will be 12-year-old Better Than Honour, dam of two back-to-back G1 Belmont Stakes winners—Jazil and Rags to Riches—as well as the promising 3-year-old Casino Drive. Even though Southern Equine Stables owns 70%, her disposal is necessitated by the other partner Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms' desire to breed-to-sell, rather than breed-to-race as Southern Equine wishes. Honestly, Southern Equine comes off much the better in my eyes, as their newly-acquired purchase of Parrish Hill Farm indicates a return to horse racing’s roots—producing quality horses you would race yourself. The commercial breeders have, in many ways, contributed to the downward trend of American racing since the 1980s. Trending back to racing the horses you breed yourself would appear to be a worthy endeavor, one that strengthens the breed as well as eliminates the kind of overbreeding that results in too many horses being produced and disposed of in ugly ways.

How much will it take to purchase Better Than Honour? Considering Coolmore purchased her for $2 million at Keeneland’s 2004 Breeding Stock Sale (Hip #113), and then privately sold her back to Hill ‘n’ Dale/Southern Equine in 2006 for an undisclosed amount, you figure at least $12 million, and I figure more likely $15 million. Coolmore and Darley battled for the Sadler’s Wells mare Playful Act to the tune of $10.5 million last November (she’s in foal to Street Sense, by the way), and she doesn’t have the family nor the proven progeny that Better Than Honour does. We're likely to see those two battle again for Better Than Honour, don't you think?

Seriously, look at that pedigree! By Deputy Minister out of the Blushing Groom mare Blush With Pride, who was a multiple G1 winner herself, Better Than Honour’s siblings include G1-placed Smolensk, unraced stallion Desert God (sire of New Mexico filly phenom Peppers Pride), and G1-placed Maryinsky (dam of multiple G1-winner and recently-retired Peeping Fawn).

And if Casino Drive wins the Breeders Cup Classic in October? Tack on another couple mil, at least.