Anne M. Eberhardt

Yearlings Lead Way on Day 3 of Keeneland Sale

They bring the top three prices Jan. 11 in Lexington.

Yearlings were the stars during the third session of the surging Keeneland January horses of all ages sale in Lexington. The three top-priced horses Jan. 11 were foals of 2011 and so were four of the five lots that brought prices of $100,000 or more apiece.

“The weanling-to-yearling pinhookers were unable to fill all their orders during our November (breeding stock) sale,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales, explaining why he wasn’t surprised by the strength of the demand for yearlings. “They (pinhookers) have been buying them (young horses) privately since the November sale and they were gung-ho to buy them this week.”

Keeneland shoppers’ enthusiasm for yearlings helped increase the gross for the January auction’s third day 47.9% to $4,255,900. The average price advanced 27.6% from a year ago to $16,182. The median price grew 7.1% to $7,500. And the number of horses that were sold rose 15.9% to 263.

In addition, the buy-back rate decreased to 17.3% from 24.8% in 2011.

“I think people are realizing there is a shortage of horses and it’s going to have an effect on yearling sales; it’s caused some urgency to buy,” said Duncan Taylor of Taylor Made Sales Agency. “This sale was short (in the number of horses cataloged) and horses were bringing more than you expected. I think people are reacting to that.”

Taylor Made sold the session’s most expensive horse, a Kitten's Joy  yearling filly, which Florida-based Glen Hill Farm purchased for $180,000. She is out of the winning Danzig mare Garden Spot, who finished second in the 2000 Unity Hall Stakes at Delaware Park. Garden Spot is a half sister to Jazz Club (by Dixieland Band), who won the Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland and the Creme Fraiche Handicap (gr. III) in 1999 along with two other added-money events.

“We like Kitten’s Joy; we had one good one (grade II winner Banned) and now we’ve chased another one,” said Glen Hill’s Craig Bernick, who was accompanied by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms’ bloodstock services director, Donato Lanni. “This is a nice filly out of a Danzig mare that was stakes-placed. She (Garden Spot) is probably a little bit better mare than most of them that he (Kitten’s Joy) has been bred to.

“We had like a dozen colts and five fillies born at the farm last year,” Bernick said. “Usually we look for colts at the sales, but because we had so many colts born, we’ll look for fillies this year. I don’t think this filly was a bargain; I thought she would bring $140,000 or $150,000.”

Bred in Kentucky by Mike Abraham, the bay filly is a half sister to the winners Formaggio (by Dynaformer) and Saint Spot (by Saint Ballado). Other family members include European champion Flagbird and grade I winners Prospectors Delite, Tomisue’s Delight, and Mineshaft , a prominent stallion.

“Kitten’s Joy is as hot as you can get and there probably aren’t a lot of them out of a Danzig mare that look like that,” Duncan Taylor said. “That (price) was definitely a homerun for the guy who was selling. We thought she was going to bring $125,000.”

The other six-figure yearlings on the January auction’s third day were a $140,000 Candy Ride  – Princess Consort colt, a $110,000 Harlan's Holiday – Grandstone colt, and a $100,000 More Than Ready  – Classic West colt.

Tim Hyde, a well-known Irish pinhooker and Coolmore Stud associate, purchased the Candy Ride colt from Taylor Made, agent. Acorn Equine bought the Harlan’s Holiday colt from Allied Bloodstock, agent for Don Ameche III, Don Ameche Jr., and Prancing Horse Enterprise. Marshall Trivarch acquired the More Than Ready colt from Michael T. Barnett’s Blackburn Farm, agent for Dunwoody Farm.

The only other six-figure horse during the third session was the Canadian stakes-winning broodmare prospect Honimiere (by Fasliyev), who commanded $105,000. Dell Ridge purchased the 6-year-old bay, which was group III-placed in England and grade III-placed in this country, from Three Chimneys Sales, agent. She is out of the unraced Hernando mare Sugar, a half sister to French stakes winner Amato (by Kendor).

The cumulative results through the January auction’s first three days included a gross of $34,371,200 for the 750 horses that were sold. The average was $45,828 and the median was $20,000. Compared to last year at the same point, the number sold and gross (which already has exceeded 2011’s total for a five-day run) increased 21.2% and 52.9%, respectively. The average and median grew 26.2% and 53.8%, respectively.

The buy-back rate of 20% was down from 28.2% last year.

The fourth and final session of the Keeneland January sale is scheduled for Jan. 12, beginning at 10 a.m. (EST).