State-Breds Entice Keeneland Yearling Buyers

State-Breds Entice Keeneland Yearling Buyers
Photo: Joseph DiOrio

At this year’s Keeneland September yearling sale, value added has come in the form of yearlings bred in New York, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana as well as in Canada. State incentive programs boosted by gaming revenue are making some yearlings worth more because of their potential increased earning power as racehorses.

Good-looking New York-breds, particularly, have sold for a premium as Aqueduct readies for slot machines in coming weeks. Indeed, Keeneland cataloged 70 New York-breds compared to 135 last year due in part to that state’s declining foal crop as well as increased entries at this past summer’s very successful Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale.

“With casino-fueled purses there’s going to be a ton of blue sky with these horses,” said Nick de Meric, who purchased a New York-bred Mr. Greeley colt for $140,000 early in the sale. “The demand will become greater when people see what these horses can earn.”

Horsemen expect revenue from the Aqueduct slots to add $40 million to New York purses and $6 million to the state-bred program.

Said Keeneland consignor Mark Taylor of Taylor Made Sales Agency: “My phone was ringing off the hook (Tuesday, Sept. 20) from agents saying, ’I hear you’ve got a New York-bred in Barn 40. Is it worth going up to look at?’ ”

Taylor said the presence of a nice New York- or Pennsylvania-bred in a consignment acts as a magnet and generates buzz. “In this environment everyone is worried about the high cost of training. When you have the potential of an $80,000 maiden race next year to compete in, you can pay $75,000 to $100,000 for them and not get hurt,” he said.

Louisiana’s robust program also is paying dividends for consignors. Taylor Made, for example, sold two yearlings by Half Ours that Mark Taylor rated of similar quality. The Louisiana-bred filly brought $60,000 while the Kentucky-bred colt went for $52,000. A buyer from Louisiana purchased the filly, Taylor said.

Warrendale’s Kitty Taylor also has had success with some out-of-state yearlings. “I sold a Canadian-bred that way exceeded his reserve—shockingly exceeded it,” she said, noting a Canadian trainer was the buyer.

Woodbine Racetrack’s purses, enhanced by gaming revenue, are among North America’s most enticing.

While Keeneland cataloged fewer New York-breds, the number of Pennsylvania-breds cataloged rose to 107 this year from 83 last year while the number of Louisiana-breds doubled to 21.

“The best yearlings of all the state programs seem to come to Keeneland to get sold even if they get returned to their state to race,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales.

Momentum remained strong on Sept. 21, day 10 of the 13-day sale, with increases in all key categories and the sale of six yearlings for $100,000 or more. For the day Keeneland reported 315 horses were sold for $6,969,900, up 65.5% from a year ago when 294 horses brought $4,209,100. The sales company reported the day’s average of $22,127 increased 54.5% from $14,317 in 2010, while the median rose 66.6% to $15,000 compared to $9,000 last year. The buyback rate decreased 41% from 2010.

Cumulatively, 2,248 horses have sold for gross sales of $215,187,500, an increase of 11.5% from last year’s $192,881,100.  Average price rose 18.4% from $80,805 a year ago to $95,724. The median of $50,000 is up 25% from last year’s $40,000.

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A half brother to Illinois Derby (gr. II) winner Recapturetheglory brought a final bid of $140,000 from Frank Stonach’s Adena Springs to be the day’s top-priced yearling. Consigned by Blake-Albina Thoroughbred Services, agent, the colt is from the first crop of champion and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Big Brown   out of the stakes-placed mare Cold Awakening, by Dehere. The colt was bred in Kentucky by Michael Iavarone.

Jerry and Ann Moss paid $130,000 for a colt by Macho Uno   out of the Elusive Quality   mare Ruby’s Prize. Consigned by Allied Bloodstock, agent for breeder D.C. Goff, the colt is from the family of multiple graded stakes winner Ruby Surprise.

A filly by Langfuhr   sold for $120,000 to Mt. Brilliant Stable. Out of the Gone West mare Gone for Christmas, the filly is a half sister to stakes-placed Christmas for Liam, and from the family of multiple graded stakes winners Christmas Gift and Christmas Kid. She was consigned by Lane’s End, agent for the complete dispersal of the estate of Edward P. Evans (Spring Hill Farm).

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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