Anne M. Eberhardt

Keeneland Sale Numbers Still Well Above 2012

Afleet Alex colt is $280,000 sale-topper on eighth day of 12-day auction.

The 12-day Keeneland September yearling sale continued to show strength at the top Sept. 17 as it rolled through its eighth day at a session that seemed to gain strength as it went.

Tuesday's session-topper was a $280,000 Afleet Alex  colt from the family of grade I winners Jimmy Creed , who finished third in the July 28 Bing Crosby Handicap since the catalog was printed, and Pussycat Doll. Tara Bella Farm bought the April 23 foal from Betz Thoroughbreds, agent.

The session-topping Afleet Alex colt is out of Blowing Kisses, a stakes-placed Vindication mare. She, in turn, is a daughter of grade I winner Hookedonthefeelin, and therefore a half sister to Pussycat Doll and Jimmy Creed, as well as to stakes winner Funny Feeling.

The Afleet Alex colt sold late in the session as Hip 2446, and he was one of two yearlings to pass the $200,000 level. The other was the day's top-priced filly, a $220,000 Rock Hard Ten filly whose group II-winning half brother Sirius Prospect recently won England's City of York Stakes.

The Japanese firm K.K. Eishindo bought the filly, a Feb. 1 daughter of Stella Blue, a French-bred group III winner by Anabaa. Brookdale Sales consigned the bay filly on Dr. Ted Folkerth's behalf.

Gainesway Farm's Afleet Alex–who also sired the Sept. 16 top-priced filly, a $320,000 half sister to grade I performer Broken Spell–was Tuesday's leading sire by gross, with nine yearlings sold for $734,000. The leader by average (three of more sold) was first-crop sire and champion Lookin at Lucky , with three that averaged $103,333. Lookin at Lucky stands at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky.

The top colt and filly were among 27 to bring more than $100,000 Sept. 17 as the auction widened its lead over last year's gross sales. On Sept. 16 at about 12:30 p.m. EDT, the sale's gross passed last year's 11-day total of $219,781,500.

By the time the final hammer fell Tuesday evening, the 2013 auction–which boasted an 8% larger catalog this year despite declines in the overall yearling crop–had tallied a total of $253,257,000 for 1,711 horses sold.

On Sept. 17 the gross was $16,383,000 for 303 yearlings, while the session's average and median were $54,069 and $45,000, respectively. The average was up 40.1% from last year's eighth session, and median had gained 50% on 2013's eighth day. Buy-backs were 16.2%, compared with 16.8% on the eighth day a year ago.

But, after Keeneland reformatted the sale and extended select sessions from one last year to four in 2013, the better comparison is the cumulative figures through each year's first eight days.

Through Tuesday, the 2013 auction's cumulative average is $148,017, up 32.5%% from last year's eight-day average of $111,672. The 2013 median also is outperforming its counterpart from the same point last year. The 2013 cumulative median is $95,000 through Tuesday, a 35.7% improvement on last year's figure.

Through the first eight days, the 2013 sale has a 23.5% buy-back rate. Last year, it was 22.4%.

Taylor Made Sales agency was Tuesday's leading consignor by gross with 27 horses fetching a combined $1,553,000. Betz Thoroughbreds, consignor of the session-topper, led by average (three or more sold) with three averaging $141,667.

The leading buyer by gross was bloodstock agent Ben Glass, whose four purchases totaled $500,000. He also led by average (three of more bought) with an average purchase price of $125,000. 

The Keeneland September yearling sale will continue through Sept. 21 with sessions starting each day at 10 a.m.