The demand for quality bloodstock was in full force at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, but the middle and lower markets were soft.
Gross sales for the 11-day auction, which started Nov. 6 and ended Nov. 16, totaled $143,025,600 for the sale of 2,414 horses, for an average of $59,248 and a median price of $22,000. As respectable as those numbers are, they are down from last year when 2,554 horses brought $208,511,200, for an average of $81,641 and a median of $24,000. The average fell 27.4%, and the gross was down 31.4%
Cumulative totals from 2011 were fueled by two premier dispersals--the estate of Edward P. Evans' Spring Hill Farm, the highest-grossing Thoroughbred dispersal sold at public auction in North America, and the dispersal of Saud bin Khaled's Palides Investments N.V., Inc., which was highlighted by the sale of champion Royal Delta for $8.5 million. When combined, the two dispersals accounted for 16 seven-figure sales and gross receipts of $72,759,000 last year.
When gross sales from the two dispersals are excluded from 2011 totals, increases are realized in the comparisons. The gross was up 5.36% from last year and the average rose 2.74%. The median increased 10% from $20,000.
"This was a very good sale, and encouraging in that the market laid down a stable foundation for the industry," said Keeneland vice president of sales Walt Robertson. "Last year's sale was enhanced by the vintage dispersals. This year we saw a truer market. And while there was general support throughout, we definitely saw a concentration on quality with regard to all types--broodmares, weanlings and horses of racing age. There is no doubt the money is out there for a good horse."
Seven horses sold in November for more than $1 million, led by the $4.5 million paid by Brazilian-based Goncalo Torrealba, of Stud TNT, for multiple grade I winner Pure Clan, offered in foal to leading sire Bernardini .
Nicolas de Watrigant's Mandore International Agency made four $1 million-dollar-plus purchases on behalf of undisclosed clients to rank as the sale's leading buyer. Mandore spent $10,235,000 for five horses, including $4.2 million for the graded stakes-winning Sadler's Wells mare Changing Skies, in foal to Street Cry; $2.8 million for multiple grade I winner Harmonious; $1.6 million for stakes winner Shotgun Gulch, in foal to Bernardini; and $1.25 million for Canadian champion Negligee, in foal to Distorted Humor .
Pure Clan and Changing Skies were consigned by John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency.
Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm went to $4.2 million to acquire 2011 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Plum Pretty, who was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent.
Taylor Made led all consignors for the 17th time at the November sale, selling 207 horses for $20,071,700.
A colt by War Front out of the Seeking the Gold mare Questress brought the sale's top price for a weanling, selling to John McCormack Bloodstock for $800,000. Consigned by Eaton Sales, agent, the colt is a half brother to multiple grade I winner and sire Pomeroy and to Gold Vault, dam of grade I winner Contested.
Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Stables paid $700,000 for Samantha Nicole, a yearling full sister to Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. The filly was consigned by Gainesway, as agent for the Dolphus C. Morrison Dispersal, which sold 20 horses for $2,208,500. The dispersal consignment was headlined by the $775,000 paid by West Point Thoroughbreds for the impressive maiden winner Flashy Gray.
On Friday, 192 horses sold for $1,269,000, an increase of 57.88% over last year's $803,800 for 157 horses. Average rose 29.08% from $5,120 to $6,609, while the median dipped 4.29% from $3,500 to $3,350.
Royal Irish Lass, dam of the stakes-winning juvenile filly Tara From the Cape, brought the last day's top price of $210,000 from Jim and Pam Robinson's Brandywine Farm. Consigned by Brandywine Farm, as agent for Rob Whiteley's Liberation Farm, Royal Irish Lass is a 9-year-old mare by Saint Ballado out of graded stakes winner Irish Linnet.