The Adena Springs sale of 2-year-olds in training bucked the downward trend in the Thoroughbred marketplace in one important statistical category. The median price rose 28.6% from a year ago during the eighth edition of the auction, which was held March 16 at Adena Springs South near Williston, Fla.
But the sale’s other figures didn’t fare nearly as well. With a smaller catalog – 70 horses compared to 136 in 2008 – it was no big surprise when the number sold fell 50.5% and the gross revenue declined 59.3% from the auction’s all-time highs. The average price dropped 17.8% while the buy-back rate rose from 23% last year to 26.2%.
“With the current economic conditions, I think they sold OK,” said Adena Spring’s owner, Frank Stronach, who has been in the news recently as the chairman of the racetrack operator Magna Entertainment Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection March 5. The bankruptcy, he said, will not affect Adena Springs, which won an Eclipse Award as outstanding breeder for the fifth consecutive year in 2008. Stronach also picked up his fourth Eclipse as outstanding owner.
“I’ve always said when you buy, you always think you paid more for a horse than you wanted to; when you sell, you always think you sold them too cheaply,” Stronach continued. “But taking everything into consideration, I think it (the auction) was fine. I’m here to sell. The horses all had what I thought were reasonable reserves, and I never play games. The auctioneers kept the list, and the house never bid on anything.”
The 48 horses that sold grossed $2,149,000 and averaged $44,771. The median was $36,000. Last year, the 97 horses that sold grossed $5,283,500 and averaged $54,469. The median was $28,000.
“I thought there was a lot of activity, a lot of people trying to buy horses,” said Mark Roberts, the manager of Adena Springs South. “Our median was up and our average was down a little bit, but nothing near to the 30% that it has been across the country. Our RNA (buy-back) rate was less than the rest of the country for 2-year-old sales. It was probably more like a yearling sale’s RNA rate. In this economy, you have to think we did pretty well. I thought we had a stronger catalog than in the past, with some really nice individuals, and I had hoped that it would carry us. But when you look at it and the way things are, you have to be somewhat pleased.”
Trainer Mike Maker, acting on behalf of Louisville, Ky., attorney F. Thomas Conway, purchased the highest-priced horse sold, a $250,000 Kentucky-bred colt that is a member of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper ’s first crop as a sire. The strapping bay juvenile is out of 2000 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. IT) winner Collect the Cash (by Dynaformer) and is a half-brother to the winners Senor Enrico (by El Prado) and Money My Honey (by Red Bullet), who finished third in the 2008 Wonder Where Stakes at Woodbine in Canada.
“Mr. Conway really liked his pedigree; he’s a big fan of Ghostzapper ,” said Maker of the sale topper. “He (the 2-year-old) looked like a big, athletic colt. He’s going to Kentucky.”
The colt was a $110,000 buy-back at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale.
“He’s an awfully nice horse,” Roberts said. “On the racetrack, he was just incredible. Everybody here who watched him train loved the way he moved, and the way he handled himself was awesome. Physically, he’s a big, ‘scopey’ two turn-looking horse. In a different year, I think he probably would have brought more money. There are a lot of people who aren’t spending money right now. The wealth in this country has been cut in half the last six months, so there’s just not as much money out there for horses that there used to be.”
Stronach has retained approximately 50 juveniles that he will race, according to Roberts.
The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. conducted the auction for Adena Springs.