Keeneland's 11-day November breeding stock auction ended Nov. 14 with a record-equaling median and gains in gross sales and average price in a market the sales company characterized as "vibrant."
The 11-day auction sold 2,512 horses for $205,899,500, a 4.4% increase over last year's aggregate $197,189,000 for 2,457 sold. It was the sale's second-highest gross ever, behind the 2011 mark of $208,511,200 that included the dispersals of the major estates of Edward P. Evans and Prince Saud bin Khaled.
This year's average price of $81,966 advanced 2.1% from last year's $80,256. The $35,000 median equaled the sale record and was unchanged from last season's figure, shoring up consignors' assessment of a steady and stable market.
Buybacks, however, also increased significantly, rising from 14.5% a year ago to 21.8%. There were 814 scratches this year versus 727 outs at the 2013 sale.
"Quality sells," said Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell. "It realy made no difference what level of the market we were in, starting with Book 1, where we saw those high-priced mares and seven-figure prices, but thanks to the momentum of Book 1 it also continued on all the way through the first week and then the second week."
The 2014 sale was one day longer than last year's sale. It produced four more seven-figure horses than did last year's auction, with three bringing $3 million or more.
Those included the $3.9 million sale topper, the 5-year-old Galileo group-winning mare Aloof, in foal to War Front. Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm bought her from the Paramount Sales Agency consignment. The other mare to bring more than $3 million was $3.6 million Naples Bay, a grade III-winning half sister to the important sire Medaglia d'Oro. Claiborne farm, agent, sold her to Coolmore's M. V. Magnier; she, too, was in foal to Claiborne's stallion War Front.
The highest-priced trio also included a Tapit weanling filly, who set a new North American record for a weanling at auction when John Malone's Bridlewood Farm paid $3 million for her. The March 31 filly is out of stakes winner Serena's Cat, making her a half sister to two grade I-placed and grade II-winning runners, Honor Code and Noble Tune. The Hill 'n' Dale Sales agency consigned her.
That purchase helped make Bridlewood the auction's leading buyer by average price (three or more purchased); Malone bought four horses for an average price of $1,975,000.
The record weanling's sire, Gainesway stallion Tapit, easily dominated the sale's sire list by gross, accumulating $13,020,500 for 34 sons and daughters. Coolmore's Galileo was the leader by average after seven of his progeny brought $935,000 apiece. And Claiborne's War Front was the easy leader among covering sires by gross sales and average price after four of his in-foal broodmares averaged $2.7 million for total sales of $10.8 million.
Taylor Made sales led all consignors by gross sales, with 260 horses bringing a total of $28,048,900, while agent Michael C. Byrne was the leader by average price after selling five for $487,000 each.
Don Alberto Corp. was the overall leading buyer by total expenditures, having purchased nine horses for an aggregate $8,575,000.
The final session Friday sold 162 horses for $1,069,400, an average price of $6,601, and a $4,500 median. There was no equivalent session last year, when the catalog was 11.7% smaller. The buyback rate at the final session was 28%.
Friday's session topper was millionaire graded winner Win Willy, an 8-year-old Monarchos horse who sold for $45,000 as a stallion prospect to Guillermo Elizondo. Taylor Made Sales was the consignor.
Monarchos led the day's sires by total sales; two of his get grossed $55,000 (the late Rahy led by average, three or more sold, with a three-horse average price of $12,733).
The $30,000 broodmare Backroom Blues, a graded-producing Dixieland Band mare, was the most expensive broodmare sold during the final session. Machmer Hall bought the 18-year-old from the Taylor Made Sales agency, which was the highest-grossing consignor on Friday after its 16 horses brought $145,800.
Backroom Blues, a winner herself, already is the dam of the grade I-placed stakes winner Indian Winter, the graded winner and stakes producer Sindy with an S, and stakes-placed Five Star Holding. She was cataloged in foal to Morning Line, a son of Tiznow who was the day's top covering sire by gross after two of his pregnant mares brought a combined $40,000. Drosselmeyer led covering sires by average price (three or more sold), with three in-foal mares registering at $11,733 apiece.
The final session's top-priced weanling was a $28,000 colt from the first crop by Dialed In that Preston Stables bought from the Blake-Albina Thoroughbred Agency. The March 9 foal is out of the Salt Lake mare Jayla and is from the family of grade I winners Manistique and Unbridled Command.
Indian Creek Thoroughbred Farms was Friday's leading buyer by gross expenditure, picking up 11 horses for $52,500, and Calumet Farm led by average price, at $12,333 for its three buys.