Last year the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale registered strong gross and average numbers, setting a positive tone that seemed to hold through 2012.
Those good feelings from a year ago appear to be carrying into the first sale of 2013. Buyers will have the opportunity to purchase horses from the Issam Fares' Fares Farm dispersal at a Keeneland January sale that will feature a larger catalog compared with last year. The sale begins Jan. 7 in Lexington.
Featured among the 80-horse Fares Farm consignment are Canadian champion Embur's Song, in foal to Giant's Causeway. Fares Farm is the breeder of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and two horses out of his dam, Sherriff's Deputy, will be offered in Deputy Saint, in foal to Lemon Drop Kid ; and a newly turned yearling half sister to Curlin by Distorted Humor . Lane's End Farm will act as agent for the dispersal.
"Anytime you have a complete dispersal, it does attract a lot of people to the sale," said Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell. "It does help dramatically. There are 80 horses: mares, foals, and horses of racing age. It's a young broodmare band, they're all very well-covered and the yearlings are very commercially bred. So I think the dispersal will have great appeal to a wide market."
Added Bill Farish of Lane's End: "When you have 80 horses from a group like that all assembled in one place and selling without reserve, it definitely piques people's interest, so we're very happy with the attention (the dispersal) is getting.
"Traditionally when you have a situation like this, they sell very well," Farish continued of the dispersal, which includes a crop of short yearlings that has attracted considerable interest. "It gives people a lot of confidence as with the (Estate of Edward) Evans dispersal. In some cases, (dispersals) exceed expectations. It usually takes a few hips for people to realize (that horses selling without reserve) is actually what's happening, and then they gain confidence."
Fares Farm general manager Shannon White said the newly turned yearlings are impressive even by Fares Farm's high standards.
"It's an exceptional group of foals that I think is indicative of the program that we've established at Fares Farm," White said. "There are some of the best babies we've ever raised in this group. It's a really compelling reason to come to the January sale and have a look."
She said the group of mares is loaded with potential.
"Most of the mares are young mares that are well-started and have good foals out in front of them," White said. "It's the right choice for Mr. Fares at this time in his life. It's sad to see them go but there's been a very good reception from the buying public so we know they'll go to good homes and ultimately that's all we want."
Last year's sale saw a 50.5% spike in gross to $37,991,900, and a 53% increase in average price to $37,878 when compared with 2011. With an additional 299 horses cataloged this year, the sale has been expanded to five days. It will continue through Friday, Jan. 11. The auction will begin at 10 a.m. each day.
Besides the Fares Farm dispersal, there are plenty of other intriguing horses. Following the passing of owner/breeder Barbara Hunter last year, Brownwood Farm's accomplished half sisters Keertana and Snow Top Mountain will be sold. Consigned by Four Star Sales, Keertana, by Johar, and Snow Top Mountain, by Najran, are both multiple graded stakes winners who placed in grade I races.
Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Plum Pretty sold for $4.2 million as a broodmare prospect at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. At the January sale, three of her half sisters will be offered: a yearling by Lookin At Lucky , a Ghostzapper 2-year-old, and a 4-year-old by Scat Daddy named Cayman Style.
The sale also features Princess Arabella, a 4-year-old Any Given Saturday filly consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency. In the final start of her career for Peachtree Stable, Princess Arabella overwhelmed competitors in the Sunland Park Oaks to score an eight-length victory in the $200,000 race.
Keeneland will offer broodmares in foal to, and yearlings represented by, such top stallions as Arch, Awesome Again, Bernardini , Blame , Broken Vow , Candy Ride , Cape Blanco, Curlin , Distorted Humor , Drosselmeyer, Elusive Quality, Eskendereya, Ghostzapper, Giant's Causeway, Hard Spun , Harlan's Holiday, Henrythenavigator, Indian Charlie, Kitten's Joy , Lemon Drop Kid , Lookin At Lucky, Majestic Warrior, Malibu Moon , Medaglia d'Oro , More Than Ready , Pulpit, Quality Road , Scat Daddy, Speightstown , Street Cry, Tapit , Tiz Wonderful, Tiznow, Trappe Shot, Unbridled's Song, Uncle Mo , and Zensational.
Recent January Sale alumni include such graded stakes winners as Love Theway Youare (2012 Vanity, gr. I); Willy Beamin (2012 Foxwoods King's Bishop, gr. I); Bern Identity (2012 Sanford, gr. II); Twilight Eclipse (2012 W.L. McKnight, gr. II); Joyful Victory (2011 Fantasy, gr. II, and 2012 Tiffany Lass); Stunning Stag (2011 Vigil, gr. III, and 2012 Ontario Jockey Club Stakes); Two Months Rent (2012 Hawthorne Derby, gr. III); Unbridled's Note (2012 Eddie D, gr. III); and Ollie Olga (2012 Whiteley Clinic Prestige, gr. III).
Buyers also received good news from Washington early this month when tax legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Obama provided positive investment incentives for horse owners. Bonus depreciation, which applies to new property whose original use begins with the taxpayer, such as a yearling horse, has been reinstated at 50%, just as it was in 2012. The $500,000 expense allowance applies to new or used property purchased in 2012 or 2013, such as a broodmare, and can be used to reduce taxable income derived from the horse business or any other business from which the taxpayer has income. Also, accelerated depreciation for young racehorses continues through 2013.
"I think we can continue on from November the same way. I think if we do that, everyone will be happy," Russell said. "Quality-wise, I think it's a good January sale. There is some very nice stock in there."
Keeneland has posted the outs for this year's sale at Keeneland.com. Included in that group is grade I-winning racing prospect Joha, by Johar.
The interactive January Sale catalog is available online at Keeneland.com and via the Equineline Sales Catalog app for the iPad, which can be downloaded free from the App Store. Keeneland will provide a live video stream of the entire January Sale at Keeneland.com.