As the start of the Keeneland September yearling sale approached, people expressed more anticipation than trepidation about the market's prospects. Here's what they had to say in the days leading up to the auction, which will begin Sept. 10 in Lexington:
Pat Costello, Paramount Sales: "It's been good all along (this year). I don't see any reason why it's going to drop off, so I'm positive about the market. It will pretty much the same as what we've seen. The key is to try to keep the buy-back rate down by being realistic with our reserves."
Kenny McPeek, trainer: "I've got a nice list of people who have contacted me about finding them something. I've heard from different people, all them U.S. customers who like racing. Several of them I've had good seasons for and other ones are a little more confident than normal. I've got quite a few new people who said find me one or two horses. I don't know if we're book one (select session) buyers, but we're going to have a lot of action."
Dell Hancock, Claiborne Farm: "I'm not overly optimistic, but I'm not pessimistic either. I think this (presidential) election has a lot of people thinking, 'What do we do?' That happens with any election, but I think with this election in particular (there is a lot of uncertainty). We'll have to wait and see what happens. I wish I had a strong feeling (about the sale). I'm anxious, I guess."
Neil Howard, Gainesway Sales: "I think the market is going to be good. While we haven't quite gotten to there yet, we're going to start seeing the effects of (reduced) supply and (more demand) demand. We're going to start seeing people wanting horses and the supply being more limited. I felt like in the (Fasig-Tipton) Saratoga select yearling sale there was very good action from $150,000 to about $300,000. There are a lot of people who are willing to participate in that range. From what I can tell and everything that Keeneland says, there is good action as far as credit requests."
Jody Huckabay, Elm Tree Farm: "If you have the stock, pass the vet, and have the pedigree, you're going to be fine. Your horse will bring good money. But if you don't, it's going to be tough sledding all the way through. I think people are here wanting to buy horses. We were extremely, extremely busy yesterday (Sept. 7). There are a lot of international people. You see the same faces for the most part, but they're shopping hard."
Bret Jones, Airdrie Stud: "I don't anticipate a whole lot of surprises. We're very fortunate this year in that we've got a crop that's as good as maybe we've ever brought up here. We've got four in book one (of the sale catalog) and we believe all four of them belong squarely where they are. We've still got a lot of underlying problems out there, but we've seen some positives. We're seeing handle come back. Hopefully, we've seen the bottom. There are a lot of people who want a really fast horse and they're going to have plenty of opportunities to raise their hands here."
Becky Thomas, pinhooker and breeder: "I think there are a lot of nice horses here. If you look at how the prior sales have been, the good horses have brought plenty of money."