Keeneland Day 3: Picky Buyers Shop Carefully

Keeneland Day 3: Picky Buyers Shop Carefully
Photo: Keeneland Photo
Tell It, a 15-year-old broodmare, was the day's most expensive offering, bringing $540,000 in Lexington Nov. 8.

While the young and beautiful have generated most of the financial fireworks at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale so far, the third session turned out to be the time for an older horse to sparkle in what has been a picky market. Tell It, a 15-year-old broodmare, was the day’s most expensive offering, bringing $540,000 in Lexington Nov. 8.

Blandford Bloodstock purchased Tell It, who is in foal to Candy Ride   and is a half sister to Pulpit, a successful sire. Pulpit (by A.P. Indy) won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland and Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) in 1997.

“That is a collector family, it has been great family throughout, and people (are willing to) pay for it,” said Walt Robertson, Keeneland’s vice president of sales.

The session’s results included a gross of $22,278,500 for the 234 horses that were sold. The average price was $95,207 and the median price was $75,000. Compared to last year, the number sold and gross declined 8.9% and 31.1%, respectively. The average dropped 24.4% while the median fell 16.7%.

The buy-back rate rose to 30.4% from 23.5% in 2012. 

“I think the market is strong for the high-end horses. The high-end horses are selling great; they’re bringing unbelievable prices,” said Teresa Little of Romans Racing & Sales. “But the market for the middle to low end horses is a little bit tougher. They (the buyers) are either on them or they’re not.

“It could be the election,” she continued. “Everybody seems to be getting on the top-notch, sure-thing horse instead of taking a little bit of a risk on the lower end horses. They’re playing it a little bit safer because they’re concerned and want to watch what is going to happen (following the re-election of President Barak Obama).”

Last year’s third session included horses from the fancy, big-grossing dispersal of the late Edward P. Evans’ Spring Hill Farm. One of those lots, the broodmare Quiet Now, who was in foal to City Zip  , commanded $1.85 million. When the statistics for those horses were removed from the 2011 results, this year’s number sold and gross declined only 6.8% and 4.6%, respectively. The average dropped 10.8% and the median fell 11.8%. The 2011 buy-back rate was 26.5%.

Aisling Duignan, director of bloodstock for Coolmore Stud’s Kentucky division, Ashford Stud, signed the sale ticket for Tell It. She said she was acting on behalf of Tom Goff of England-based Blandford Bloodstock. Goff, she reported, was “at the airport.”

Claiborne Farm, agent, consigned Tell It, who is by Storm Cat and out of 1991 Frizette Stakes (gr. I) winner Preach (by Mr. Prospector).

“We were actually very surprised by the price,” said Claiborne manager Bradley Purcell. “She’s a 15-year-old mare, but she’s by Storm Cat and out of Preach, who is a foundation mare for Claiborne. We don’t sell much out of Preach, especially daughters. But we have plenty of daughters and her (Preach’s) daughters are having daughters as well. Because we’ve got plenty of the family, and because of her (Tell It’s) age, it was time to either sell her or live with her. She’s a little high-strung, and that comes from Storm Cat and Preach. She’s got it from both sides, but she’s fine (to work around).”

Bred and raced by Claiborne, Tell It won four times in 18 career races while earning $162,283. She finished third in the 2001 Nicole Stakes at Hawthorne. She is the dam of Dream Nettie (by Dixie Union), who won the La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita Park and finished second in the Alcatraz Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in 2010.

Spring Party, who is in foal to Unbridled's Song, was the day’s second most expensive horse, bringing $525,000. Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings bought the 6-year-old bay Smart Strike   mare.

“She’s a nice, young mare that’s pretty, and she’s a daughter of Smart Strike, who has turned out to be one of the really nice broodmare sires,” said Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan, who is an adviser to Stonestreet. “It’s really hard to find a really nice Smart Strike (physically) and she is one of those. It looks like she can have some nice, pretty foals for us. She was kind of the one we zeroed in on for today.”

Spring Party won six of her 23 races and earned $202,077. Last year, she captured the Wintergreen Stakes at Turfway Park and finished third in the Decoration Day Handicap at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort.

Produced from the winning Ocean Crest mare Surf Club, Spring Party is a half sister to Emcee   (by Unbridled's Song), who won this year’s Forego Stakes (gr. I). Other family members include grade I winner Awesome Humor (by Distorted Humor  ).

“We’re just trying to buy good mares for value, and it’s pretty hard buying them for value,” Moynihan said. “We’ve been outbid a lot. We’re just kind of picking our spots. We’ve very happy with what we’ve gotten.”

The market “is what it always is,” Moynihan continued. “For the good ones you try to buy, it’s strong. I haven’t really noticed what people are selling the other ones for. But every time you come in trying to buy something that’s really nice, it seems like there are plenty of people on it, as always.”

The results for the Keeneland November sale’s first three sessions combined included a gross of $83,783,500 for the 443 horses that were sold. The average was $189,128 and the median was $100,000. Compared to last year, the number sold dropped 18.3% while the gross plunged 43%. The average and median fell 30.3% and 28.6%, respectively.

The buy-back rate increased to 30.7% from 21.1% in 2011.

In addition to the Spring Hill dispersal, last year’s November auction offered another dispersal of pricey stock conducted by Chanteclair Farm. Without the results for the dispersals included in the 2011 cumulative figures, this year’s number sold and gross fell 5.2% and 4%, respectively. The average declined 1% and the median dropped 23.1%. The 2011 buy-back rate was 25.6%.

The Keeneland sale continues through Nov. 16, with each session starting at 10 a.m. (EST).

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