Increases in average and median during the third day of the marathon Keeneland September yearling sale were fueled by increases in the number of horses selling at the very top of the market.
During the sale’s first open session, there were 57 horses sold for more than $300,000, compared with only 40 in the same price range a year ago. Broken down even further, the 30 yearlings selling above $400,000 represented a 36.4% gain over the 22 such transactions during the first open session in 2006. And the $1 million top price on the day exceeded the $900,000 topper last year.
If the top is that much stronger, then it stands to reason there will be some price ranges showing declines. When compared with session three in 2006, there was a 20.7% decline in horses selling for $50,000-$99,999, a 5.4% decline for those in the $100,000-$199,999 range, and a 15.5% drop in sales in the $200,000-$299,999 range.
While Keeneland officials and consignors had to be pleased with the 11.5% increase in average price, they had to be more gratified by the 6.6% increase in median price, the more accurate gauge of the health of a sale because the number is not as impacted by the prices gleaned by horses sold at the very top of the market.
Once again, as was seen during the two-day select sessions buyback rates for the leading consignors were low, indicating they convinced their clients that setting realistic reserves and letting the horses sell is preferable to taking them home and continuing to absorb the overhead costs. Leading consignor Eaton Sales sold 26 of the 28 through the ring, and Lane’s End and Taylor Made Sales, the respective second- and third-ranked consignors, each sold 19 of 25 on offer.
Following on the heels of double-digit downturns during the two select sessions, the first open session may have provided a realistic guide to where the market is this year. Despite the positives, however, some holes were evidence in the marketplace Wednesday, particularly with regard to the RNA rate for fillies. Last year, the 34 fillies that were bought back during the session represented 24.1% of the total offered. This year, the RNA rate was 34.2% as 55 went unsold.
Of course, the Wednesday session was only day 3 of 15 days of selling, so there is plenty of opportunity for circumstances to change. With a record number of yearlings being offered during the Keeneland sale, the potential is there for the sale to continue on a solid, stable basis. There is also the possibility that many horses offered during the latter days of the sale will not find buyers willing to pay whatever their breeders are asking.
Now, we move on to Day 4, which is the last day of selling before a one-day break. Last year, this session was a breakout day for the Keeneland sale, with two yearlings each bringing final bids in excess of seven figures.