Sale Sources for Kentucky Derby-Winning Horses

Fifteen of the most recent 25 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winners were reported as being sold at public auction one or more times prior to their victories in the Run for the Roses.

The most expensive was 2000 Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, who brought $4 million at the now defunct Keeneland July select yearling auction in 1998. But many others sold for bargain prices. They included 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird, who brought only $9,500 at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale; 2003 Derby winner Funny Cide, who brought $22,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale in 2001; and 2002 Derby winner War Emblem, who brought $20,000 at the Keeneland Spetember yearling sale in 2000.

Below is a list of the 25 most recent Derby winners and their sale (or lack of sale) histories:

2009, Mine That Bird - Scratched from the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2007; $9,500 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale yearling in 2007.

2008, Big Brown - Scratched form the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2006; $60,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale yearling in 2006; $190,000 Keeneland April sale 2-year-old in 2007.

2007, Street Sense - James Tafel homebred.

2006, Barbaro - Lael Stables homebred.

2005, Giacamo - Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S. Moss homebred.

2004, Smarty Jones - Someday Farm homebred.

2003, Funny Cide -- $22,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred preferred sale yearling in 2001; Scratched from the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. spring sale of 2-year-olds in training in 2002.

2002, War Emblem -- $20,000 Keeneland September sale yearling in 2000.

2001, Monarchos -- $90,000 buy-back at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale in 1999; $170,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale 2-year-old in 2000.

2000, Fusaichi Pegasus -- $4 million Keeneland July select sale yearling in 1998.

1999, Charismatic - Not offered at public auction, but not a homebred.

1998, Real Quiet -- $17,000 Keeneland September sale yearling in 1996.

1997, Silver Charm -- $16,500 Ocala Breeders's Sales Co. August sale yearling in 1995; $100,000 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. spring sale 2-year-old in 1996.

1996, Grindstone - Overbrook Farm homebred.

1995, Thunder Gulch -- $40,000 Keeneland July select sale yearling in 1993; $120,000 buy-back at the Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training in 1994.

1994, Go for Gin -- $32,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November mixed sale weanling in 1991; $150,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale yearling in 1992.

1993, Sea Hero - Rokeby Stable homebred.

1992, Lil E. Tee -- $25,000 Ocala Breeders Sales Co. spring sale 2-year-old in 1991.

1991, Strike the Gold - Not a homebred, but not offered at public auction prior to the Derby.

1990, Unbridled -- $70,000 Tartan-Nerud November dispersal (at Faig-Tipton Kentucky) weanling in 1987.

1989, Sunday Silence -- $17,000 buy-back at the Keeneland July select yearling sale in 1987; $32,000 California Thoroughbred Sales March sale 2-year-old in 1988.

1988, Winning Colors -- $575,000 Keeneland July select sale yearling in 1986.

1987, Alysheba -- $500,000 Keeneland July select sale yearling in 1985.

1986, Ferdinand-Mr. and Mrs. Howard Keck homebred.

1985, Spend a Buck - Not a homebred, but not sold at public auction.


Leave a Comment:


If I'm not mistaken, wasn't Seattle Slew sold at auction for the price of $17,500.00?

27 Apr 2010 4:09 PM

I know it's outside the scope of the piece, but it's a nice aside, "Charismatic ran in a $62,500 claiming race on Feb. 11 at Santa Anita, finishing second. He followed with seconds in an allowance and in the El Camino Real Derby." -CNNSI '99 article. Thanks for the timely article.

27 Apr 2010 4:53 PM
General Assembly

Winning Colors sold for quite a bit more than 75K. She went for $575,000.

27 Apr 2010 11:28 PM
Robin from Maryland

What about Northern Dancer.  I believe that no one even wanted him at auction, so back home he went.  What a great story.

27 Apr 2010 11:29 PM

It shouldn't be surprising if we see another "inexpensive" winner, only because many yearlings are bred &  purchased for their 2 year old potential, not for their classics campaign potential.

Racing has far too long now valued speed over distance. If Wayne Lukas has his way, the Triple Crown would consist of barely mile races, and for some horses, even that would be a stretch with some of today's breeding.

27 Apr 2010 11:55 PM

Nice article, memory lane is always welcomed. Only other comment, once again, Secretariat destroys another Derby field !!

03 May 2010 9:00 PM


04 May 2010 4:22 AM
karin c-c

Robin from Maryland, Northern Dancer's story is a little more complicated.

E.P. Taylor, his breeder and owner, wanted to sell some of the horses he bred and retain others to race.  He had the problem that every owner who keeps some and sells some faces:  potential buyers are inevitably going to believe that the horses offered for sale by the breeder are culls, that he's keeping the good ones for himself.

Taylor tried various ways to deal with this issue, and in 1962, when Northern Dancer was a yearling, he offered his entire yearling crop for sale.  He put a fixed price on every yearling:  if a buyer was willing to pay the price, he'd sell the yearling.

Northern Dancer was offered at $25,000.  This was the highest price Taylor put on any of his yearlings, and there were two other yearlings priced at $25,000.

Northern Dancer was from the first crop of his sire Nearctic. He was also the first foal of his dam, Natalma.  So there was no produce record for either his sire or dam.  Nearctic had been a good but not outstanding runner, and Natalma was just a stakes-placed runner.

Northern Dancer was physical small and had somewhat suspect hocks.  He was also a Canadian-bred, not exactly a recommendation at the time.

$25,000 was a lot more money for a yearling in 1962 than it is now.  There weren't a lot of top-bred yearlings bringing that much at that time.  Small yearling by unproven sire out of unproven mare, bred in Canada by a breeder not then noted for producing horses that were competitive in open stakes competition, the buyers said "pass."  And so Taylor got to keep the colt.

10 May 2010 1:45 AM

Paula, I don't quite understand your comment. Pretty sure Mr. D. Wayne Lukas has had know qualms about winning, correct me if i'm wrong, a record 13 triple crown races?

10 May 2010 2:23 PM

Please note that this list is comprised of the last 25 Derby winners. Slew and Northern Dancer won their Derbies before 1985, so they're not on the list.

11 May 2010 12:33 AM

wondering if silver charm is still alive,is off spring were nice to ride. but he never made it as a sire. it was my first american derby, would love a print of him... could to look back

13 Feb 2011 6:32 AM

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