Keeneland's July select yearling sale continues to shrink. Not only is the catalogue for the elite Central Kentucky auction down in size for the third year in a row, it also is the sale's smallest ever, with only 208 horses listed. The auction will be conducted on July 17 and 18.
"We're very pleased with the quality of the catalogue, the conformation of the yearlings, and the sires represented," said Rogers Beasley, Keeneland's director of sales. "There are a lot of very nice individuals.
"The number catalogued is very very similar to last year (216). We've never been asked to sell a particular number of yearlings. We've always catalogued the number of yearlings that meet the standards for pedigree and conformation."
Beasley noted that the July sale produces the highest percentage of graded stakes winners of any yearling auction in the world. Sixteen grade I stakes winners of 1999 and 2000 are Keeneland July graduates, including 2000 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Fusaichi Pegasus.
Much of the decline in July has been blamed on the growing popularity of the Keeneland September yearling sale, which catalogued a record number of horses (4,090) in 1999 and is the largest auction of its kind in the world. This past April, one of July's most successful consignors, William S. Farish of Lane's End Farm, revealed he would abandon the summer auction and concentrate his marketing efforts at Keeneland on the September sale. In 1999, Lane's End sold 13 horses in July and ranked second among consignors in terms of gross receipts with $12.7 million.
Another leading July consignor of 1999 that won't have a consignment in this year's edition of the auction is Helen Alexander's Middlebrook Farm. The two July yearlings sold by Middlebrook last year grossed $1,835,000.
"Believe me, I would sell in July if I could, but my mares just didn't cooperate," Alexander said. "Most of my good mares had fillies last year, and I like to keep the fillies out of Courtly Dee's family. The colts my mares had were very backward physically. The one colt who would have been physically ready for the summer sale has more of a September sale pedigree."
Claiborne Farm, which hasn't had a consignment in the July sale since 1994, returns this year with a group of five yearlings, including a Danzig—Summer Home colt; an A.P. Indy filly, who is a half-sister to 1996 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) winner Oath; and a Silver Hawk colt out of 1996 Debutante Stakes (gr. III) winner Move.
Storm Cat, who topped North America's general and juvenile sire lists in 1999, has 10 yearlings in the 2000 Keeneland July catalogue, the same number as a year ago. Mr. Prospector, who died last year, has eight Keeneland July yearlings in 2000 compared with five in 1999; Deputy Minister has 14 (12 last year); Danzig has six (five); A.P. Indy has eight (13); Gone West has four (14); Unbridled has six (11); Woodman has 11 (13); and Seattle Slew has seven, the same number as in 1999.