No horses inspired buyers to pay dazzling seven-figure amounts during the third day of the Keeeneland September yearling sale in Lexington. But some of the results for the auction’s first open session were encouraging after significant downturns during the two select sessions that kicked off the sale. The number of horses sold Sept. 10 rose from a year ago. The median remained the same at $160,000. And the gross revenue fell only 3.8%. Meanwhile, the buy-back rate declined from 27.8% in 2007 to 25.4% this year.
“I don’t think it’s great, but considering what’s going on in the world economy, it’s pretty damn good,” said Craig Bandoroff of Denali Stud. “We’ve been realistic, and we’re selling horses for good prices, fair prices — a hit or two above the reserve. We’ve had some doubles; we’ve had something pretty close to a triple. But it’s been tough to have a breakout horse; we haven’t had any home runs.”
The 270 yearlings that were sold grossed $50,807,000 and averaged $188,174. Compared to a year ago, the number sold rose 3.8% from 260, and the average fell 7.4% from $203,212. The 2007 gross was $52,835,000.
“I thought today was very, very good,” said Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell. “It started off with a bang with a $600,000 horse and continued on solidly all the way through the day. Some smart person told me today that more people can afford Fords than Ferraris. I think that’s what it comes down to. Those highly pedigreed, top physical horses come with a high price, and this market is a lot broader. It was good to see the buy-back rate down. Consignors are looking at the market and adjusting to it, and that’s very favorable.”
The sale’s cumulative figures through three days were 570 horses sold, a gross of $164,164,000, an average of $288,007, and a median of $220,000. Compared to 2007, the number sold was down 4.5% from 597. The gross fell 17.2% from $198,212,000. The average dropped 13.3% from $332,013. The median slipped 4.3% from $230,000. The buy-back rate advanced from 25.9% to 28.2%.
A Mr. Greeley colt was the third day’s highest-priced horse, bringing $875,000 from Ahmed Zayat’s Zayat Stables. The immediate underbidder was Rick Nichols, representing Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell.
“He wasn’t a very big horse, but he has a lot of room for improvement (in his size), and he looks exactly like his daddy; I hope he’s as good,” said Sobhy Sonbol, who signed the sale ticket for Zayat Stables. “I thought he was going to be in the $500,000 to $700,000 range, but the good ones are fetching good money. Everybody is on the good ones, so I knew we would have to pay a little bit more money. We’re pretty happy.”
The colt will be sent to brothers J.B. and Kevin McKathan in Florida to be broken and prepared for racing.
“It’s too early to say who will train him,” Sonbol said. “Let’s get him to his 2-year-old year first."
A well-made chestnut, the colt is the first foal out of the 5-year-old unraced Old Trieste mare Chinoe Road, who is a half-sister to grade II winner Essence of Dubai (by Pulpit) and stakes winner Danjur (by Dayjur). The $875,000 yearling’s second dam, Epitome, was a champion.
Gainesway consigned the colt as agent. Crone Stud had purchased him for $220,000 at the 2007 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. According to Michael Hernon and Neil Howard of Gainesway, Crone Stud is a Gainesway client that is based in Ireland.
“I think he was in the right spot at the right time,” said Howard of the yearling. “Had he been on Monday or Tuesday (during the select portion of the September sale), he would probably have been overshadowed a little bit by some of the other horses. But he was on a Wednesday, and he stood out on this day. He is very athletic; he has a big walk. He had both European appeal and American appeal.”
Jezebel Farm, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Bell III, and partners bred the colt in Kentucky.
The most expensive filly sold was a $725,000 daughter of Rock Hard Ten named Exceedingly. Consigned by Lane’s End, agent, and a member of her sire’s first crop, she was purchased by Jerry and Ann Moss. Jerry Moss is the co-founder of A&M Records and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Bred in Kentucky by G. Watts Humphrey Jr., Exceedingly is out of the 9-year-old winning Unbridled mare Unsurpassed, and the dark bay or brown yearling’s second dam is grade III winner Squan Song. Other family members include grade III winner Omega Code and stakes winners Heron Bay, Tempest Fugit, and Symboli Indy (in Japan).
“Every once in a while you’ve got to go for it,” Moss said. “That’s about as high as I’ve ever gone for a racehorse (prospect). She’s a beautiful, beautiful filly, and very poised. It (the price) was higher than I thought I was going to go, but we wanted her, and that was it. First she’ll go to Ocala (Fla.) to get started out, probably with Jeanne Mayberry, and then she’ll go to (trainer) John Shireffs in California.”
The Keeneland auction continues Sept. 11, with selling beginning at 10 a.m. (EDT). There will be a break from selling Sept. 12, and then the sale will resume Sept. 13, continuing through Sept. 23.