The numbers weren’t dramatically different from a year ago during the third session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, and that was good news for the Central Kentucky auction, which had experienced major declines in 2008 during a global financial crisis. The gross revenue increased 8.6% as more horses sold while the average and median prices fell 3.4% and 9.1%, respectively.
As during the second session, the sale benefited from the quality horses in the Overbrook Farm dispersal. Lasting Appeal, a mare in foal to Awesome Again , brought the day’s highest price of $875,000, making it the second day in a row that one of the nursery’s horses had been the most expensive lot sold.
“Today’s session was very good, continuing on from yesterday’s (when the gross rose 8%),” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “We again had a very cosmopolitan group of buyers, with some new players with some new accents arriving. There were some Latino accents, some European accents, and some Asian accents, and some ‘g’days’ (Australians) were here, too. The Overbrook dispersal has been a great boost to this sale, there’s no mistake. The quality of their broodmares is well-known, so obviously we knew they would be a major attraction.”
The third session’s statistics included a gross of $26,833,000 for the 252 horses that sold. The average was $106,480, and the median was $75,000. In 2008, the 224 horses that sold grossed $24,698,000 and averaged $110,259. The median was $82,500.
The buy-back rate declined from 28.2% last year to 19.5% this year.
Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm in Kentucky purchased Lasting Appeal, with the nursery’s vice president and racing manager, Elliott Walden, signing the sale ticket. A 6-year-old winning daughter of A.P. Indy, Lasting Appeal is a full sister to 2001 Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II) winner and successful young sire Jump Start. She has a yearling filly by Ghostzapper, but she didn’t produce a foal this year, coming up barren after being bred to Successful Appeal in 2008.
“She’s a beautiful mare, with A.P. Indy, Storm Cat, and Mr. Prospector, in her pedigree,” said Doug Cauthen, WinStar’s president and CEO. “It all works with Distorted Humor (who stands at WinStar), and that’s who she’s going to go to. He’s done really well with A.P. Indy mares, and we’re hoping to get the next Any Given Saturday (a grade I winner that is by Distorted Humor and out of an A.P. Indy mare). We had hoped to buy her for $400,000 or $500,000, but these are special mares with special families, and sometimes you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is.”
Steve Castagnola of Kempton Bloodstock was the immediate underbidder.
“I was acting on behalf of Robert and Lawana Low; we’ve been trying (to buy) for the last two days unsuccessfully, and we really wanted that mare,” Castagnola said. “She’s a lovely mare, and she was the one we wanted. We stretched beyond where we should have stretched.”
The second-highest-priced horse of the session, Katz Me If You Can, also came from the Overbrook dispersal. Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm of Florida purchased the grade II winner, who is in foal to Indian Charlie, for $420,000. Katz Me If You Can, a 12-year-old daughter of Storm Cat out of the grade I winner Cuddles, is a half-sister to stakes winner Country Romance (by Saint Ballado) and a full sister to grade III producer Imaginary Cat. Katz Me If You Can’s foals include the winners Unkatzable (by A.P. Indy) and This Cat Can Dance (by Vindication).
“I love her; she’s by Storm Cat, and she’s very nice (physically) for a Storm Cat," Pope said. “She’s got to come up with a major racehorse (from her existing foals); that’s her main issue. We’re gambling that her Tiznow and the Unbridled's Song foals are going to come on and make the pedigree.”
Eaton Sales is handling the Overbrook dispersal, and Eaton’s Reiley McDonald described its performance during the Keeneland auction’s third session as “very solid, very good.” The late W.T. Young founded Kentucky-based Overbrook, which stood the great stallion Storm Cat before he was pensioned.
Numerous people said the market for weanlings was strong. An Unbridled’s Song – Offshore Breeze filly brought the third session’s top price in that age group, selling for $350,000. Ray Bell purchased him from Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent. Taylor Made’s Mark Taylor said Bell indicated that his client bought the filly for racing purposes. Her dam is a half-sister to champion Boston Harbor and stakes winner Cloudburst.
“Basically, she was a typical Unbridled’s Song, with a beautiful neck and shoulder on her, great balance, and great demeanor,” Taylor said. “She’s very correct and basically, she had a ton of quality. She really stood out in our group, and I think she stood out as far as the whole (second) book (of the catalog) went. She brought good money.”
Kentucky bloodstock agent and pinhooker Mike Ryan bought the day’s second-most-expensive weanling, a Street Sense – Richbabe colt, for $340,000 from Taylor Made. Ryan, who signed the sale ticket in the name of Trade Wind Farm, said he planned to resell the colt as a yearling at public auction.
"He's very special," Ryan said. "He’s a late foal, but he’s beautifully made and beautifully grown. He looks like a March foal instead of a June foal. I love his movement and his size for his young age. This guy just had everything for me."
The colt, a member of his sire's first crop, is a half-brother to grade III winner Richwoman (by Successful Appeal ).
“Weanlings have been doing great in general,” Taylor said. “If they vet good, and they’ve got quality, they are bringing great prices. I think it’s just a reflection of the way the market is now. A lot of people are short-term thinking. They’re buying now and they’ll resell next year. Buying mares is a little bit more of a long-term project. I also think it (the solid demand for weanlings) is a matter of supply and demand. There are less foals cataloged and then a lot of the foals entered were scratched. A lot of people rounded up money to buy weanlings with and there aren’t that many weanlings here. Many breeders who had nice weanlings didn’t think the market would be any good, so they decided to wait and sell them next year, but they probably should have been here. The breeders who stuck to their guns and put their foals in the sale are getting rewarded.”
Through the first three days of the Keeneland auction, 547 horses were sold for a gross of $98,484,500. The average was $180,045, and the median was $110,000. Compared to 2008 at the same point, when 523 horses had been sold, the gross was down 14.2% from $114,725,000. The average was down 17.9% from $219,339. And the median was down 12% from 125,000.
The buy-back rate this year was 21.1%, down from 33.1% last year.