Keeneland Sale Analysis: Good Horses Still Available

Keeneland Sale Analysis: Good Horses Still Available
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland sales director.

Standing at the rear of the Keeneland sale pavilion in Lexington, agent Buzz Chace shook his head as the auctioneer’s gavel signaled a final price of $150,000.

“That’s a lot,” Chace said, indicating the final price was well above the average for the sire at the marathon September Yearling Sale that began Sept. 10 and concludes Sept. 25. He added, however, after checking his notes on the catalog page, “But he was a good horse.”

That was a recurring theme Monday as owners, agents, trainers, and continued to go through their paces in search of the “next big thing.” Although there had been more than 2,000 horses through the ring by the time Monday’s session began, there was a consensus that bidding continued to be competitive and there was an ample supply of good horses available. And while the horses offered during the first week had better pedigrees than those in the second week, industry veterans know there have been some top runners who emerged from the latter days of the sale.

“The sale has been unbelievably good,” said Keeneland sales director Geoffrey Russell.

As for the reason so many agents and end-users were still in attendance on the seventh day of the sale, Russell opined, “They know they can get a good horse out of any session.”

Emphasizing the point, Russell noted that Lear’s Princess, who upset Rags to Riches in Saturday’s Gazelle Stakes (gr. I), had been purchased by agent Norman Casse for $60,000 out of the eighth session of the 2005 Keeneland fall yearling sale. The filly has now won $429,100 while compiling a record of four wins and two seconds in six starts for West Point Thoroughbreds and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

“There are still a lot of nice horses here,” Chace said. “You bring a good horse up here, it is very competitive and it brings a lot of money. If they’re nice horses, they’re going to sell well, regardless of day.”

Sohby Sonbol, racing manager for Zayat Stables, said he found it even harder to buy horses in the “non-select” sessions than it was during the first two days of the sale, when horses with the best pedigrees were sent through the sale.

“In Book 1 (catalog for the select sessions), we got everything we wanted at the price we wanted to pay,” Sonbol said. “We let quite a few we had on our list go during Book 2 because we thought they were bringing more than we were willing to pay.”

Consignors also seemed to have a satisfactory level with how week two of the sale began.

“We’re selling them,” said Tom VanMeter, partner in Eaton Sales. “It’s good. It’s a little different than last week, but we’re selling them.”

“It’s going well,” said Case Clay of Three Chimneys Sales. “It’s going well.”

The sale continues at 10 a.m. daily through Sept. 25.

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