Keeneland Sale Still Up--And So Is Morale

Keeneland Sale Still Up--And So Is Morale
Photo: Joseph DiOrio

A day after the Keeneland September yearling sale topped its 2010 gross with five days to go, the ninth day of selling was up over last year. And the importance of that development goes far beyond the numbers.

“The sale is far enough along now, and I think it’s a piece of good news for an industry that is desperate for good news,” Keeneland president Nick Nicholson said Sept. 20. “It shows the power and depth of the game itself, and shows there are people out there that really want to play this game of breeding and racing Thoroughbreds.

“I thought this week also was a reminder that the product Kentucky is raising is a good product. It’s respected around the world, and it’s good we’re being reminded of that. The industry has serious problems it needs to address, but we’re tough on ourselves and forget that at the core, these Thoroughbreds are worth the trouble we go through for racing and breeding.”

Nicholson said he is particularly impressed with the results of the third, fourth, and fifth days of the auction, because the “psychology of sales is that each day the numbers go down a little bit.”

That wasn’t the case this year; the numbers from day five were higher than those of day three.

“There was a vibrancy I haven’t felt since 2007,” Nicholson said.

As of Sept. 20, Keeneland reported having sold 1,933 horses for $208,217,600, up 10.3% from $188,672,000 in 2010. The average of $107,717 is up 19.4% from $90,144 last year, while the median of $60,000 is up 20% from $50,000.

A colt by Medaglia d'Oro   and a filly by War Front   each brought the top price of $200,000 Sept. 20.

Trainer Bob Baffert purchased the Medaglia d’Oro colt, who is out of the Seeking the Gold mare Delve, a half sister to European champion Bosra Sham, European high weight Hector Protector, and group I winner Shanghai. He was consigned by Adena Springs.

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Craig Bernick, president and chief operating officer of his grandfather Leonard Lavin’s Glen Hill Farm, signed the ticket for the War Front filly. Consigned by Longfield Farm, agent, the filly is out of the stakes-placed Dominica, by Housebuster.

Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell said the numbers at the September sale thus far may not have been expected, but they didn’t necessarily come from out of the blue. He said stability in last year’s September yearling sale offered some confidence to buyers and breeders who “see some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Russell said the Keeneland staff did a good job arranging the catalog and attracting foreign buyers, which factors into the numbers through the ninth day of the sale.

“Lower-end horses are missing this year, and the credit goes to breeders for realizing they may not have some commercial horses,” Russell said. “The consignors have done a very good job, and the buyers have confidence knowing they are bidding against other buyers.”

On Sept. 20, the ninth day of the sale, 302 horses sold for $9,579,400, up 38.3% from 2010, when 275 horses sold for $6,921,900. The average of $31,720 was up 26% from $25,171, while the median rose 31.5% to $25,000 compared with $19,000 in 2010.

The sale continues through Sept. 24.

It should be noted the daily session-by-session comparisons being reported are not chronological comparisons with last year’s Keeneland September results. Because Book 2 of the sale is only three days this year instead of four days as it was in 2010, the sale company is making its daily comparisons by book instead of by session. This means the statistics for day six Saturday, Sept. 17, (which was the first day of Book 3) were actually compared with Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010, when Book 3 started a year ago. The session-by-session comparisons have been offset by a day since Sept. 17.

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