The Keeneland January horses of all ages sale enjoyed increases in the number of horses sold, gross, and average price during its five-day run in Lexington. Read what people had to say about the market during the auction, which ended Jan. 14:
Ben Walden, Pauls Mill: “It feels precisely like it felt when I started Vinery in the fall of 85 and I started trying to put something together and build a business. If you find something with some merit and redeeming quality, you can go up there (to the sale ring) and buy it.
“On one hand, the market has been soft the last few years and a lot of people are struggling. And that’s not easy. But on the other hand, it’s a great time to buy horses. I’ve worked hard in this sale from day one. I’ve picked around the edges and I feel so good about what I’ve bought.
“I think my most expensive mare was $70,000 and she was a grade I-placed filly off the racetrack. I bought a mare for $5,000 and a mare for $6,000. It helps when you have a couple of young horses (stallions) that you’re trying to support and these mares fit. I’ve got dates for them lined up.
“I also bought weanlings that averaged in the $12,000 to $13,000 range. I’ve stayed off the beaten path away from the really shrewd and talented pinhookers like David Hanley, Peter O’Callaghan, and Brian Graves are. I got a notch under those guys and I found some really nice individuals for $10,000 or $12,000, or $14,000 that I really think I can bring back in Books Three, Four, and Five in Keeneland September and make some money with.
“It’s just been a lot of fun, I think for a lot of people. I see a lot of people doing business. But it’s a tough spot to be in when you’re trying to trim your stock and move some older mares on; you can’t expect much for them.
“I really believe that no matter on what side of the political spectrum one sits, that after the November elections and after we got some balance of power in Washington, the economy and the overall attitude started to tick up and that pertains to our business as well.”
Frank Taylor, Taylor Made Sales Agency: “Good horses are still selling pretty good. We’re still in a clean-out phase so a lot of it is the bottom end of the market. It’s not fun, but we’re getting to where we need to go.”
Lincoln Collins, Kern Thoroughbreds: “I was pretty encouraged by the results for quality horses that really have a future either from a commercial point of view or a racing point of view. But the middle market and below reflects the difficulties we have at the racetrack with people not being able to make money, which probably shouldn’t be the motivation in the first place. But there isn’t enough fun in people owning racehorses at the level below the top.
“The biggest issue is we have to address is that people need to be able to get personal satisfaction out of racing horses. It’s a frustrating game in which you will probably lose money so there needs to be a compensating factor where it’s exciting and fun enough to attract new owners into the game.
“Obviously, it (the growth in several statistical categories) is positive. We’ve been through a hellish two or three years and if we’re bottoming out, I would rather bump along the bottom and move up a little bit than keep going down. The positive thing is that people are buying horses, albeit at a low level and albeit with a lot of foreign involvement. We’ve just got to keep positive and move forward. This game isn’t dead; it just needs reforming.”
Shawn Collins, Mare Solutions, Taylor Made Sales Agency: “I thought this was a sale that when a horse ticked all the boxes, had commercial appeal, and was an attractive individual, there was a pretty good fight to buy the horse. There’s plenty of competition at the higher level. Middle and low are tough spots. It takes a lot of effort to get them (horses at those levels) done today.”
Mark Toothaker, Legacy Bloodstock: “Good horses have sold really good. I think this has been a sale where there has been a shortage of the top end horses and the ones that have been in here have really rewarded the people who have consigned them to the sale. The stuff that people are culling and wanting to get rid of, the problem is that nobody else wants them either, and it’s been hard to find those horses homes.
“There have been some bright spots, but I think we’re still going through the process of people getting horses off their feed bills to survive and get through this until we get sunny days again.”
Greg Burchell, Crossroads Sales: “We sold some horses on Monday (Jan. 10) that sold well. If you had the right kind of horse, like always, you did well. I sold a nice Divine Park colt out of an Indian Charlie mare, and he was a nice colt so he brought a lot of money. I was happy with it.
“I’m always optimistic if you have the right kind of horse. They bring more than they’re worth in the market. But, of course, there are a lot of people trying to cut down on their overhead and just trying to move horses that there’s really not a lot of market for and I’ve been guilty of that. You hate to have to pay (the expenses) to sell them but sometimes that’s the way it is right now.”