Excerpted from BloodHorse.com reports
Evelyn Benoit is not your typical horse breeder.
Most buyers of a top-class, $850,000 Thoroughbred mare at public auction would plan a mating for the following breeding season to one of North America’s more fashionable stallions.
At the Nov. 11 session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, Grovendale’s James Keogh won a bidding war to acquire the multiple stakes winner and graded stakes-placed mare Moment of Majesty for $850,000 from Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency’s consignment.
The 9-year-old daughter of Saint Liam was purchased in the name of Benoit’s Star Guitar Inc., named after the Louisiana breeder’s top homebred Star Guitar.
Keogh said Benoit bought the mare specifically to breed to Star Guitar, who stands at Clear Creek Stud in Louisiana for $4,000—a far cry from the $100,000 fee for Curlin, the Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm stallion to whom Moment of Majesty was bred this year.
A day later, Benoit struck for another high-priced mare to breed to her stallion Star Guitar, going to $550,000 for the durable runner Five Star Momma during the fifth session of Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale.
Sold in foal to top WinStar Farm stallion Tiznow, Five Star Momma topped the Nov. 12 session, in which the sale enters a new realm, beginning Book 3 after the best lots in the auction were offered in Books 1 and 2.
Keogh said Benoit’s decision to breed such an expensive mares to Star Guitar reflects her desire to give the stallion the best opportunity to succeed.
“It’s not about the money with her. It’s about the horses,” Keogh, part of Benoit’s team of advisers, said of the disparity between the mare’s purchase price and the stallion to whom she will be bred. “It’s family to her. She loves (Star Guitar) so much. He means the world to her.”
Racing for Benoit’s Brittlyn Stable, Star Guitar won 24 of his 30 starts, including 22 stakes, and retired as the all-time leading Louisiana-bred earner of over $1.7 million. In his only graded stakes placing and rare venture outside Louisiana, Star Guitar finished third in the Alysheba Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
Represented by 36 juveniles of 2016, Star Guitar has had two winners from six starters to date, and Keogh said Benoit is getting ready to send out several of her promising homebreds trained by Al Stall Jr.
Keogh said the breeder has supported Star Guitar since he entered stud, sending some 15 of her 22 broodmares to the stallion annually.
“He’s a beautiful-looking horse. He’s show-hunter pretty,” Keogh said. “He’s a fabulous-moving horse. He wouldn’t break eggs, he’s so light on his feet.”
With his breeding and superb running ability, Star Guitar likely could have been gone to a farm outside Louisiana, but keeping him in the Bayou State fit with Benoit’s support of the state breeding program. Star Guitar’s fee will remain at $4,000 for 2017.
“It’s everything to her to support Louisiana’s breeders’ program,” Keogh said. “She had several offers to stand him in Kentucky, but she wouldn’t consider it because she wants to support Louisiana racing and breeding. She is passionate about racing. She watches racing three hours a day.”