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Kentucky Derby Winners and Public Auction Prices

By

Fusaichi Pegasus

Fusaichi Pegasus is by far the most expensive Derby winner purchased at auction. He cost $4 million at the 1998 Keeneland July Yearling Sale.

© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Updated April 29, 2012

Many people will spend any amount of money to try and buy a horse they think can win the Kentucky Derby, but is this a smart thing to do? If you are buying a young horse at auction as a yearling or 2-year-old in training, you are actually better off to stay away from the high priced colts and instead go for the bargains if you are hoping for a Derby winner.

Since 1960, only three horses who sold at auction for $500,000 or more of the 33 who have run in the Derby have won: Alysheba ($500,000), Winning Colors ($575,000), and Fusaichi Pegasus ($4,000,000). Other than those three, Kentucky Derby winners who were sold at public auction since 1970 have ranged in price from $1,200 for Canonero II in 1971 to $190,000 for Big Brown in 2008. Of course Big Brown was later resold by that buyer to IEAH Stables for lots more, but we are only looking at public auction prices here since private sale prices are usually exactly that, private and not disclosed to the public.

Here is a list of the Derby winners sold at public auction since 1970 with their sale price.

  • Animal Kingdom, 2011 ... $100,000
  • Mine That Bird, 2009 ... $9,500
  • Big Brown, 2007 ... $190,000
  • Funny Cide, 2003 ... $22,000
  • Monarchos, 2001 ... $170,000
  • Fusaichi Pegasus, 2000 ... $4,000,000
  • Real Quiet, 1998 ... $17,000
  • Silver Charm, 1997 ... $100,000
  • Thunder Gulch, 1995 ... $40,000
  • Go For Gin, 1994 ... $150,000
  • Lil E. Tee, 1992 ... $25,000
  • Unbridled, 1990 ... $70,000
  • Sunday Silence, 1989 ... $32,000
  • Winning Colors, 1988 ... $575,000
  • Alysheba, 1987 ... $500,000
  • Genuine Risk, 1980 ... $32,000
  • Spectacular Bid, 1979 ... $37,000
  • Seattle Slew, 1977 ... $17,500
  • Bold Forbes, 1976 ... $15,200
  • Foolish Pleasure, 1975 ... $20,000
  • Canonero II, 1971 ... $1,200
  • Dust Commander, 1970 ... $6,500
Below is a list of the Derby starters who sold at public auction for $500,000 or more with winners in bold. For 2012, the most expensive contenders purchased at auction are: Union Rags ($390,000), Gemologist ($310,000), and Liaison ($290,000). For those sold at auction, you can find the price in their past performances beside their color and age if you want to check out others. You can find the past performances for each contender here.

While most of us are unlikely to ever buy a horse at auction, it is another factor to keep in mind while handicapping the Derby.

Horse, Kentucky Derby YearAuction Price
Fusaichi Pegasus, 2000$4,000,000
Dunkirk, 2009$3,700,000
Houston, 1989$2,900,000
Desert Party, 2009$2,100,000
Talk Is Money, 2001$1,800,000
Cowtown Cat, 2007$1,500,000
Exchange Rate, 2000$1,400,000
Lion Heart, 2004$1,400,000
Unbridled's Song, 1996$1,400,000
A.P. Warrior, 2006$1,300,000
Millennium Wind, 2001$1,200,000
Noble Causeway, 2005$1,150,000
Any Given Saturday, 2007$1,100,000
High Yield, 2000$1,050,000
Chumming, 1983$1,000,000
Songandaprayer, 2001$1,000,000
Capote, 1987$800,000
Point Determined, 2006$750,000
Jazil, 2006$725,000
Flying Private, 2009$700,000
Zanjero, 2007$700,000
Regal Ransom, 2009$675,000
Tank's Prospect, 1985$625,000
Tapit, 2004$625,000
Thyer, 1992$600,000
Going Wild, 2005$600,000
Commendable, 2000$575,000
Desert Hero, 1999$575,000
Winning Colors, 1988$575,000
Parade Ground, 1998$525,000
Dublin, 2010$525,000
Alysheba, 1987$500,000
Timber Country, 1995$500,000
Bandini, 2005$500,000
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