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Graded-Winning Three Witches Brings $1.7M at Keeneland

The steady rhythm of the sales ring, which had been generating middle market-priced horses throughout the day Nov. 10, was suddenly disrupted when the elegant Three Witches  strolled into the arena. Bidding spewed at a rapid-fire pace during the third session of the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale until the crescendo skidded to a halt with the drop of the hammer. Six days following a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), Three Witches exchanged hands for $1.7 million.

Australian buyers swooped in for the 4-year-old Into Mischief   filly, consigned as Hip 936, signing the ticket under the name of Rifa Mustang Europe. The Australians had made their presence felt throughout the week at Keeneland, touting such top-level racing or broodmare prospects as Dalika  and California Angel  among their several conquests.

Barry Bowditch, the managing director of the prestigious Australian sales company Magic Millions, spoke as a representative for the Aussie buyers Friday.

“We’ve had a great week. I think we bought sixteen or seventeen thus far for Australia, which is great,” Bowditch said. “Obviously, this is a sale that does Australia very well. The bloodlines have a good outcross, there’s good speed lines for Australia. That’s important. That’s what we’re looking for when we come to America and we’ve found plenty of it this week.”

Bowditch indicated that Three Witches, purchased on behalf of an investment group based in both Australia and Europe, will remain in the United States to further her racing career. A decision on who would train the filly would be made later. She made the first eight starts of her career under the care of trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.

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Hip 936, Shack Parish, Indian Creek consignor, 2023, Keeneland November Sale
Photo: Keeneland Photo

Three Witches at the sale

“For a mare that raced five days ago, in one of the strongest Breeders’ Cup races of the weekend, she looked so well and handled it so well, the trip back,” Bowditch said. “You just feel that the best of her racing is yet to come. It will be great to have a new investor racing horses here in America.”

Campaigned by e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, the filly had stamped her ticket to the Breeders’ Cup off a determined victory in the Oct. 7 Princess Rooney Invitational Stakes (G3) over the proven race mare Maryquitecontrary .  

Bloodstock agent Mike Ryan, who signed the ticket on Three Witches as a yearling for $350,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September Sale, applauded the investors’ decision to keep Three Witches in training for another year.

“I think she is capable of winning a grade 1,” Ryan said. “She ran huge against a really good filly in Goodnight Olive. She was slow away (from the gate), made up a lot of ground, and was getting to the second horse closing on them to the finish. She is completely sound, there isn’t a pimple on her, and she X-rayed spotlessly which is pretty amazing.”

Three Witches also became the top horse sold by consignor Indian Creek.

Sarah Sutherland at the 2023 Keeneland September Yearling Sale on Sept. 11, 2023 at Keeneland in Lexington, KY.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

Sarah Sutherland

“I thought it was pretty fantastic,” said Sarah Sutherland of Indian Creek. “Obviously, the filly was well received and we knew she was a standout both physically and with her race record and pedigree. Anytime you get over a million dollars though it’s pretty special. It exceeded our expectations, and we’re just thrilled.”

Produced from the Tale of the Cat mare Layreebelle, Three Witches is a half sister to multiple graded stakes-winning gelding Kid Cruz  and the grade 2-winning Bernardini mare Spellbound , the dam of 2021 Santa Anita Oaks (G2) victress Soothsay .

“I think (Three Witches is) just getting good,” Ryan continued.  “It was a great sale for e Five Racing, the pedigree carried her as well, but she helped make her own pedigree.”

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