Joseph DiOrio

Keeneland Nov. Sale Ends With Big Upswings

Average and median rise 62.2% and 41.2%, respectively.

Two major dispersals, one of which included the $8.5 million racing or broodmare prospect Royal Delta, helped create big surges in business at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. The auction ended its 11-day run in Lexington Nov. 17 with increases of 41.5% in gross revenue, 62.2% in average price, and 41.2% in median price from a year ago.

The buy-back rate was 19.8%, down from 22.5% in 2010, when 2,929 lots were sold.

“The dispersals were phenomenal successes,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “When you sell collectors’ items, you get collectors’ prices and it (the momentum generated by the high prices) rolled over to include other horses in the sale and continued into the start of the second week.”

The auction’s final results included a gross of $208,511,200 for the 2,554 horses and stallion shares that were sold. The average was $81,641 and the median was $24,000.

The dispersal of the late Edward P. Evans’ Virginia-based Spring Hill Farm, which was handled by Will Farish’s Lane’s End, grossed $55,820,000 for the 170 horses and stallion shares that were sold. In addition, at the Keeneland September yearling sale earlier this year, 50 Spring Hill horses were sold for $6,527,000 by Lane’s End.

The dispersal’s grand totals were 220 lots and a gross of $62,347,000, with the latter setting a record for a Thoroughbred dispersal in North America and probably the world. The previous mark, held by the Newstead Farm Trust dispersal, was a gross of $46,988,000 for 62 lots that were sold by Fasig-Tipton in Lexington in 1985.

The other major Keeneland November dispersal this year involved stock owned by the late Prince Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments, which was handled by his Chanteclair Farm. The 30 horses that were sold grossed $16,939,000 and included Royal Delta, who captured the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) four days before she went through the auction ring and was offered as a racing or broodmare prospect.

Florida health care magnate Benjamin Leon, who purchased Royal Delta in the name of his Besilu Stables, was the auction’s biggest spender, paying $22.4 million for nine horses. He said he would keep Royal Delta in training. A daughter of Empire Maker , Royal Delta is the probable Eclipse Award winner as champion 3-year-old filly.

Leon’s purchases also included a $2.6 million Medaglia d'Oro –Quiet Dance filly from the Evans dispersal. She established a record for a weanling of her sex sold at public auction in North America.

“I think the sale was really good; I was pleasantly surprised,” said Denali Stud’s Craig Bandoroff. “We’re getting our horses sold; we’ve had a very low buy-back rate. There is a big difference from a year ago and two years ago. The bottom of the market is better and it’s also a much better market overall. Obviously, the dispersals were a big attraction and they helped bring the prices for everything up.”

Twenty-three horses brought prices of $1 million or more, which represented an increase from eight in 2010. This year’s number of seven-figure horses was the highest since 2007’s total of 39, which equaled a November sale record that had been established in 2000.

Domestic buyers bought 18 of 2011’s seven-figure horses, which was a positive sign, according to Russell.

“It shows there is some strength back in the domestic market,” he said. “There has been a hesitation in North America the last couple years to get involved in long-term investments, so the fact that the majority of million dollar mares are staying here is very good for the Thoroughbred industry.”

The November auction again attracted a strong international group of buyers from such places as Australia, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and South America, according to Russell.

“They were here to buy horses at the top end, but they just weren’t able to afford them,” Russell said.

Lane’s End set a Keeneland sale record for gross by a consignor,  with $66,220,500 for 371 lots.

During the final session, 157 horses were sold for a gross of $803,800. The average was $5,120 and the median was $3,500. The buy-back rate was 25.9%.

Baccari Bloodstock paid the day’s highest price of $27,000 for a weanling City Zip colt out of the stakes-winning Yes It's True mare Peisinoe. Royal Pegasus consigned the colt, which is his dam’s first foal.