The financial fireworks weren't as spectacular Tuesday during the second session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale as they were on the auction's world-record-smashing opening day. But most of the results remained impressive, with the gross revenue climbing 5.4% from the comparable session a year ago and the buy-back rate dropping significantly. The average price was about the same, but the median price was down for the second session in a row.
"I don't think there were quite as many quality offerings the way the catalog shook out today as there were yesterday," said Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan. "We pursued more mares yesterday than we did today. But the market is still so strong. I've seen very few horses go through there that I thought were nice and didn't bring huge prices."
Keeneland reported that 186 horses and one lifetime stallion breeding right were sold for a gross of $69,435,000. Their average price was $373,306, and their median price was $220,000. Compared to a year ago, when 177 horses and one stallion season were sold, the average rose less than 1% from $370,112, and the median fell 12% from $250,000. The 2006 gross was $65,880,000.
"Going into the sale, we knew there were several horses that were collector's items," said Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell. "They don't fall under any commercial guidelines at all, and they definitely brought collector's item prices. The rest of it, I think, comes down to the value that Europeans perceive here because the dollar is so weak. Top quality horses don't cost them as much, and I think that has driven up the market."
The buy-back rate dropped from 23.6% last year to 19.8% this year. Eleven horses sold for $1 million or more.
"That (the buy-back rate) is unbelievable, especially in the select, top part of the market where people tend to value their horses highly because they can keep them and breed them again and go on," Russell said. "It's spectacular."
Grade I winner Island Sand, who is in foal to A.P. Indy, brought the session's highest price of $4.2 million from bloodstock agent Lincoln Collins of the Kern Lillingston Association. He was acting on behalf of Barnes & Noble chairman Leonard Riggio, whose Thoroughbred operation is known as My MeadowView. The immediate underbidder was Satish Sanan of Padua Stables. Moynihan, representing Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, also was in the hunt for the dark bay or brown mare.
"She was a tough one to buy; Satish was very strong," Collins said. "She's a beautiful mare in foal to the right horse. She was a wonderful race mare, and she has a nice foal by A.P. Indy (a colt) already. Hopefully, we'll breed very good horses out of her."
A 6-year-old daughter of Tabasco Cat produced from the unraced Forty Niner mare Sue's Last Dance, Island Sand scored in the Acorn (gr. I) and Busanda Stakes in 2004 and the Delaware Handicap (gr. II) in 2005. She earned $1,182,777. Her other efforts included a second in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and a third in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) in 2004.
Maynard Farm consigned Island Sand for B. A. Man (James Osborne). Richard Maynard bred her in Kentucky.
John Magnier and his Coolmore team outlasted Rick Nichols, representing Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell Farm, to snare the session's second-highest-priced horse, 2003 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Adoration, for $3.1 million. The 8-year-old bay daughter of Honor Grades is in foal to the sizzling Smart Strike .
"She's a good-looking mare, and she was a good racehorse," said Magnier, who chooses his words carefully and is rarely generous with his comments to reporters. Asked about the price, he responded, "That's the market, what can you say?"
Produced from the unraced Key to the Mint mare Sewing Lady and campaigned by Amerman Racing Stables, Adoration earned $2,051,160 and won seven added-money events, including the 2004 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I). Mill Ridge Sales, agent, consigned her to the Keeneland November auction.
"She was in the (price) range that we thought she would fall into," said Bayne Welker of Mill Ridge. "Her race record certainly makes up for her pedigree, which is not strongest on the (catalog) page. She is a big, gorgeous, classy-acting mare. It certainly helped her to be in foal to Smart Strike ; he's probably the hottest horse in the sire book right now."
The session's top-priced weanling, at $950,000, was a Kingmambo colt out of the 6-year-old Sadler's Wells mare Because, a full sister to Irish champion Quarter Moon and Irish classic winner Yesterday. Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager, John Ferguson, purchased the colt from Eaton Sales, agent. Bred by Daylesford Stud in Kentucky, the weanling is the second foal for his dam, which produced a Giant's Causeway filly in 2006.
The cumulative figures through the first two days of the auction were 380 lots sold, a gross of $178,499,000, an average of $469,734, and a median of $250,000. Compared to last year, the number sold was up 11.1% from 342, and the gross advanced 19.3% from $149,675,000. The average grew 7.3% from $437,646, and the median declined 9.1% from $275,000.
The buy-back rate decreased from 26.6% last year to 19.5% this year.
So far, 39 horses have sold for $1 million or more apiece, equaling the Keeneland November record set in 2000 for the entire sale.
The auction continues Wednesday in Lexington, with selling beginning at 10 a.m. (EST).