The 2004 selling seasons kicks off in Central Kentucky Monday when the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale begins its five-day run. There are 1,917 lots catalogued, including 827 broodmares, 191 broodmare prospects, 634 yearlings, and 152 racing or broodmare prospects.
Keeneland officials created the January auction as a convenience for breeders who need to move along horses that did not get sold the previous year or who must make adjustments in their programs due to death, finances, and other reasons. Since horsemen do not usually target this sale for their best stock, the quality of the catalogue can vary considerably from year-to-year, and the auction is not considered a major indicator of market trends.
"We have a typical January catalogue this year," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "There are no dispersal to add color to it, but it's a good, solid catalogue from start to finish. We've had several positive comments from (potential) buyers about the quality of horses. We're hoping that the strength of our (2003) September (yearling) and November (breeding stock) sales will carry over into the New Year."
The sale lost its biggest attraction when Edmund Gann decided to scratch his multiple grade I winner You, who was scheduled to be sold as a broodmare prospect. But the catalogue has other offerings that should lure buyers to Keeneland, including European group I winner Luna Wells, who is in foal to Storm Cat, and Beckys Shirt, the dam of 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Cajun Beat. Both are scheduled to go through the ring on Tuesday. Lane's End, as agent, is the consignor of Luna Wells, an 11-year-old daughter of Sadler's Wells. Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency, as agent, is the consignor of Beckys Shirt, a 13-year-old daughter of Cure the Blues. Beckys Shirt is in foal to Woodman.
Among the horses scheduled to be offered during the opening day is Brazilian champion Virginie, who is in foal to Gaint's Causeway. Denali Stud, agent, is the consignor for the 10-year-old daughter of Legal Case (by Alleged).
Selling begins each day at 10 a.m. (EST).
During last year's January auction, 1,185 horses were sold for a gross of $31,186,000, an average price of $26,317, and a median price of $10,000. Compared to 2002, the gross fell 10.1%, and the average and median declined by 29% and 21.6%, respectively. The buy-back rate was 25.9%, up significantly from the 17.5% rate of the previous year.