The enduring partnership between breeder and consignor Catherine Park of Valkyre Stud and her longtime clients Bill and Betty Currin yielded a heartwarming – and lucrative – end result during the third session of the Keeneland September yearling sale Wednesday.
A bay colt by Darley sire Bernardini sold the Coolmore Stud partnership of John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor for $1.55 million early in the second “Book 2″ session, the second highest priced horse to sell thus far during the world’s largest yearling auction.
Out of the Currin’s top producing mare Wilshewed, the Bernardini colt is a half brother to the late Grade I winner Stormello, who was raised and trained by Bill Currin. Stormello was euthanized last April due to complications from colic.
“It made me feel…good,” the 75-year-old Bill Currin said of his lofty sale. “I really didn’t want to sell him but…that’s a lot of money. I can’t be foolish. I have to think about my family. I’d like to train him but he’ll be a good horse, he’ll be a champion. He’s got the breeding, he’s got the looks, he’s got the pizzazz. He is a 10 1/2.”
Currin, who trimmed his stable after suffering a mild stroke in 2009,also still owns My Best Brother, a full brother to Stormello and half brother to the Bernardini colt. Trained by Julio Canani, My Best Brother recently won the Grade II Del Mar Derby on September 2.
Bittersweet though it was to let go of his latest young prospect, selling the Bernardini colt not only helped boost his connection’s financial future but gave veteran horsewoman Parke another milestone achievement.
Parke, who has counted the Currin’s as clients for nearly forty years, sold a Bernardini filly to Ben Leon for $1.2 million during the third session of last year’s Keeneland September sale. This latest notch, however ranks as the highest priced horse the affable breeder has ever sold at public auction.
“They’re like my parents,” Parke said of the Currins. “Bill’s been so passionate and so devoted to this industry his whole life, he and Betty. It was pretty amazing experience. (The colt) is just an unbelievable looking animal, he had the pedigree and when people would look at him they would just come back and look again and again. They never looked one time. People that I really respect so much thought he was a lovely horse. There just wasn’t any holes in him.”
Demi O’Byrne, who signed the ticket on behalf of Coolmore, said no decision has been made yet as to whether the colt would remain stateside.
“Good colt, he’s a good looking horse with a good walk,” O’Byrne said. “He’s the one I like. I wasn’t surprised (we had to go that high). It’s about what I expected.”