Keeneland's November breeding stock sale put an exclamation point on 2013's major Thoroughbred sales season and finally banished the ghost of the bloodstock market crash.
Sellers who weathered the disastrous years immediately following the 2008 global financial crisis were rewarded this year with higher prices. That was thanks largely to newly balanced supply and demand and renewed enthusiasm for American Thoroughbreds among buyers around the world.
The Keeneland November sale ended 10 sessions Nov. 14 after 2,457 horses had sold for a combined $197,189,000, averaging $80,256. The median for the entire sale was $35,000. All of those figures represented enormous advances from last year's 11-session auction.
The gross ended 37.9% higher than last year's aggregate for 2,414 horses. The 2013 average was 35% higher this year, and the median soared highest of all, climbing 59.1% above last year's $22,000. The $35,000 median equaled the highest the sale has posted, which it also reached each year from 2005 through 2007.
In such a bullish market, the buyback percentage also was down, falling from last year's 23.3% to just 14.5% at the close of business Thursday.
Two dispersals helped push figures up. The E. Paul Robsham dispersal included sale topper Awesome Maria and two other $1 million-plus mares, $2.15 million Broadway's Alibi (bought by Alpha Delta Stable) and $1.6 million R Heat Lightning (bought by Stonestreet Farm). In all, the Robsham horses, consigned by the Lane's End agency, grossed $12,174,000 for 24 horses.
Awesome Maria's sale contributed to sire Maria's Mon's place as the November auction's leading sire by gross and average (three or more sold). Six of his progeny brought an average price of $1,030,833 from $6,185,000 in total sales.
Ashford stallion Giant's Causeway led all covering sires by gross and average (three or more sold). Six mares in foal to him brought a combined $7,695,000 for a $1,282,500 average.
The late Eric Kronfeld's dispersal, handled by Winter Quarter Farm, also was a big seller. Led by $2.1 million Eblouissante, who went to Ian Banwell's St. George Stable, the seven Kronfeld estate horses grossed $2,478,000.
For the entire 10-day auction, Taylor Made Sales topped the consignor rankings by gross sales. The Nicholasville, Ky., operation sold 199 horses for $20,464,800. Tom Evans's Trackside Farm, which consigned $3.1 million Groupie Doll at the sale's second session, led all consignors by average (three or more sold) after six horses averaged $528,533.
Among buyers, the leader by gross was the Don Alberto Corp., the Chilean buyer of Vinery last month. In the quest to restock that Lexington breeding farm, Don Alberto bought 32 horses at the Keeneland November sale, spending $10,640,000 with a $332,500 average purchase price. Their most expensive buy was $850,000 Reach the Stars, an Irish-bred Galileo mare who is a half sister to champion Escena. The Eaton Sales agency sold her in foal to Tapit .
The leader by average spend was Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Farm after paying an average of $802,857 for seven horses, led by a pair of seven-figure mares. They were $1.8 million Ask the Moon, a grade I-winning Malibu Moon mare in foal to War Front , consigned by the Gainesway agency, and R Heat Lightning.
Thursday's closing session saw a top price of $135,000, the day's only six-figure bid, for the 3-year-old First Defence filly Kimbolton, a Juddmonte homebred who is unplaced in her only start so far. But she is a daughter of the multiple graded winner Skimble and is a half sister to two-time Pacific Classic winner Skimming. Offered through the Mill Ridge Sales agency as a broodmare prospect, she sold to James Keogh's Grovendale agency.