Keeneland Sale Continues to Surge

Keeneland Sale Continues to Surge
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Miss Lodi brought the Tuesday session's highest price, going for $1.9 million.

Boosted by three horses that brought seven-figure prices, the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale was well ahead of last year's pace in gross revenue, average price, and median price during its second session Tuesday. But the buy-back rate also was up, indicating consignors were less satisfied with some prices than they had been in 2007.

"I think it was a continuation of yesterday," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "The top end is very, very strong, but I think it's a little weak below that. I thought today was more even throughout, and those three highlights of the day added more sparkle."

Keeneland reported that 239 horses were sold during the second session for a gross of $27,088,200. The average was $113,340, and the median was $60,000. Compared to last year's second session, the number sold dropped 10.5% from 267, but the gross revenue rose 17.2% from $23,112,200. The average soared 30.9% from $86,563 while the median advanced 27.7% from $47,000. The buy-back rate grew from 16.6% last year to 21.1% this year.

"The January sale is a mixture of a lot of different horses," Russell said. "The quality horses are shining bright, there's no mistake. But with the rest of the horses, the auctioneers are saying it's tough out there. The not sold rate is higher; that's not a positive thing. It's a buyers' market by a long shot; they're not throwing money away,"

The cumulative results for the January auction's first two days were 434 horses sold, a gross of $48,414,100, an average of $111,553, and a median of $58,500. Compared to 2006's figures, the number sold was down 9.2% from 478, but the gross was up 15% from $42,082,200. The average was up 26.7% from $88,038, and the median was up 17% from $50,000. The buy-back rate increased from 21.8% last year to 26.9% this year.

Miss Lodi, winner of the 2002 Safely Kept Stakes (gr. III) at Pimlico, brought the Tuesday session's highest price, selling for $1.9 million. Carrying a foal by Storm Cat, she was purchased by Sha-li Leasing of New Jersey, with Charles Albright signing the sale ticket. Sha-li, a commercial breeding venture involving Albright and George Prussin, bred Miss Lodi's most recent foal, a 2007 A.P. Indy filly, in partnership with Skara Glen Stables.

"We expected her to go for more, so we’re happy with the price," Albright said.

Keeneland's Russell confirmed that the transaction was an actual sale, representing one partnership entity buying out the other.

Will Farish's Lane's End, as agent, consigned Miss Lodi, who is a 9-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley. She is out of the unraced Big Spruce mare Firtide, who is a full sister to stakes winner and grade II producer Barbara Sue and a half-sister to grade I winner Super May and to grade III winner Ide  .

Gwen's Song, a winning Unbridled's Songmare, was Tuesday's second-most-expensive horse sold at $1.5 million. Carrying her first foal, which is by Distorted Humor  , 5-year-old Gwen's Song was purchased by Oregon lumberman Aaron U. Jones and his wife, Marie.

The Joneses' chief adviser, Frank Taylor of Taylor Made Sales Agency and Taylor Made Farm, signed the sale ticket after talking on his cell phone with Marie Jones during the bidding. Gwen's Song will be bred to Forestry  , a stallion owned by the Joneses that stands at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky.

"She fit Forestry perfect, and that's what we were buying her for," Taylor said. "Unbridled's Song just fits him (Forestry) so well. She was our No. 1 pick of the sale to breed to him."

Gwen's Song is a half-sister to grade II winner Lead Story (by Editor's Note) and a half-sister to another stakes winner Capejinsky (by Cape Town). Other members of Gwen's Song's family include 2001 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Unbridled Elaine and grade I winner Political Force, who both are by Unbridled's Song, and grade I winner Glitter Woman (by Glitterman).

"That family has just been a really good one," Taylor said. "Political Force, who came out of there, was a grade I winner, and then you've had Etched (a grade III winner by Forestry  ), who is super, too, and really a top horse out of that family. Lead Story is in there as well, so there are a lot of good things happening in that family, plus she's in foal to Distorted Humor  . You really couldn't start a mare off with any better horse than Distorted Humor. Along with Unbridled Elaine, all that combined makes her a top prospect."

Kentucky-based Greenfield Farm, operated by Bruce D. Gibbs, consigned Gwen's Song for Stan Fulton, who began dispersing his stock last year. Fulton owns Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino in New Mexico near El Paso, Texas.

"I'm very happily surprised," Gibbs said. "I thought she would possibly break a million or get to about that number if the right players played. But I didn't realize it would be as strong going beyond that. She has a wonderful family, and her conformation is special. I think she's an outstanding individual no matter who she is by, but she's a very outstanding Unbridled's Song. In foal to Distorted Humor, who is one of our leading sires right now, I think she has a good opportunity to produce a very nice horse."

Moon Catcher, winner of the Delware Oaks (gr. II), Susan's Girl Breeders' Cup Stakes, and Maryland Million Oaks last year, was the third-highest-priced horse sold Tuesday at $1,350,000. Emmanuel de Seroux of Narvick International purchased the 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon  for Marsha Naify. Her new trainer will be Christophe Clement.

"We think she is a very good race filly," said de Seroux of Moon Catcher. "She's just turning 4, and we hope she has a good future in graded stakes company. She's beautiful. She's won six races, and she's already a grade II winner. There's not too much downside with her, and we hope she can be a grade I winner soon."

Gainesway, as agent, consigned Moon Catcher, who previously raced for the partnership of CJZ Racing Stable and trainer Tim Ritchey.

Also Tuesday, 12 head were sold for a gross of $2,670,000 during the complete dispersal of horses owned by the late Cynthia Phipps. The Hancock family's Claiborne Farm was the consignor. Palais Versailles, an unraced Pulpit filly out of grade I winner Versailles Treaty, was the dispersal's most expensive horse, bringing $625,000 from Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt's WinStar Farm. Palais Versailles, a half-sister to stallion and grade II winner Saarland, was offered as a broodmare prospect.

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