The third day of the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale saw a Medaglia d'Oro yearling colt make headlines while steady interest in both yearlings and broodmares helped the median nearly double compared with last year comparable session.
Third-session median registered $13,000, up 73.33% compared with the same session of 2012. Total sales for the day were up 16.4% to $4,953,900 and average improved 34.86% to $21,823. In fact, gross receipts from the first three sessions, $40,299,000, already have surpassed total sales of $37,991,900 recorded for last year's four-day auction.
Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell said he saw the improved median during the third session as a sign of an improving market and acknowledged that he was a bit surprised by the $350,000 colt, the highest-priced newly turned yearling colt to sell through the first three days, and second only to a $1.45 million filly among all yearlings offered through the first three sessions.
"Obviously he was a yearling who improved after we placed him," Russell said.
Ben Glass, as agent for Gary and Mary West, signed the ticket for the $350,000 Medaglia d'Oro colt.
"He's a lovely foal and I love Medaglia d'Oro; I think he's a great sire," Glass said. "I really liked him and I didn't want to have to buy him later as a (fall) yearling. It was buy him now or let somebody else buy him and try to get him back as a yearling; better to just get him now, get it done."
Consigned by Three Chimneys Sales, agent, the Medaglia d'Oro yearling is the fourth foal out of the Carson City mare Bohemian Lady, winner of the 2004 Cicada Stakes (gr. III) as well as the 2006 Rare Treat and Affectionately handicaps at Aqueduct Racetrack. The colt was bred in Kentucky by the Sanan family's Padua Stables, which had purchased Bohemian Lady for $150,000 from the Paramount Sales, agent for The Lads, consignment to the 2002 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale.
Glass said the Wests have decided to purchase more weanlings and young mares and he noted that the approach is buoyed by their belief in Dell Ridge Farm in handling and developing young horses.
"That's what we've started to do. In November we bought five weanlings and we came here and this was the only weanling that I liked so far--not that I looked at all of them, just the ones that meet our criteria," Glass said. "I really liked him. So you're better off buying now than wait and in September have to pay those big prices."
Also on Jan. 9, Chris Baccari enjoyed seeing Cosmo Girl take a step toward her new career as a broodmare after she sold for $190,000. Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings landed the 6-year-old City Zip mare, the highest-priced broodmare or broodmare prospect sold during the third session.
Baccari campaigned Cosmo Girl, who came back from a minor knee injury in 2012. Baccari considered racing her this season, but thought selling her as a broodmare prospect would be a better option. After John Moynihan signed the ticket for Stonestreet, Baccari congratulated him on the purchase.
"I'm glad somebody like Stonestreet bought her because they'll breed her to nice horses," Baccari said. "That will be a good home."
This year's sale will run five days compared to four days in 2012, which means the sessions do not allow for ideal comparison. But Keeneland officials were not the only ones seeing increased interest with gross up 17.25% through the first three sessions to $40,299,000, and average up 30.08% to $59,614. Median is up 25% to $25,000.
Glass said the top end of the sale certainly is drawing attention.
"When they lead a horse in there who's good, the money's still there," Glass said. "It's unbelievable. I've seen some horses go for way more than what I thought they were worth, way more than what nearly anybody thought they were worth … across the board, yearlings, broodmares, anything that's good."
Martin Keogh, of Mjk Bloodstock, said he is seeing quality throughout the sale and, despite the increased prices, is still finding opportunity for value.
"I just think if you shop the sale hard enough, there's value to be had," Keogh said. "It's just getting lucky and trying to pick up the spots that are a little weak."
An area of concern at the sale is a 20.32% increase in buybacks through the first three sessions to 24.97%, 225 total.
If the sale needs another incentive for buyers, it will be provided when the Fares Farm Dispersal continues. After drawing strong interest on the sale's second day, no horses from that dispersal were offered on the third day, but it will continue Jan. 10.