The Keeneland September yearling sale enjoyed upswings in gross, average price, and median price for the second year in a row. The buy-back rate for the auction, which ended Sept. 24 in Lexington, also was down for the second straight year.
Read what horsemen had to say about the market during the sale:
Brent Fernung, Journeyman Stud: “It hasn’t been easy to buy; it has been very competitive. It’s an amazingly resilient market. You look at the numbers and all the numbers are up, and you can almost feel the different vibe in this place. There is a lot more enthusiasm here.
“It all looks good for the future. There is a demand here that’s very vibrant right now. The supply is going to continue to contract, and if the demand stays up, it has got to be good news.
“There are probably a lot of people here who see what’s going on in New York (with the scheduled opening later this year of a video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct) and who might be saying, ‘This is my time to get in and have some fun doing it.’ ”
Ron Blake, Blake-Albina Thoroughbred Services: “We’ve been doing very well. It has been a strong sale. That horse (a $140,000 Big Brown – Cold Awakening colt that is a half brother to Illinios Derby, gr. II, winner Recapturetheglory) almost brought twice his reserve (Sept. 21). He is a May foal that is a big, good-looking horses that is going to get better.
“There has been a lot more traffic (in the sale barns) than there was in Book Five (of the sale catalog) last year. I’ve seen people who normally left after Book Three who are still here for Book Five.”
Doug Cauthen, Kentucky bloodstock manager: “There are definitely a lot more horses trading and there are a lot of buyers here at all levels, but I think you can still buy a really good horse for reasonable money. They’re reasonable if you can live with something. If you look for the fanciest horse in the sale, you are going to pay top dollar. But if you can live with a horse that’s a little toed out or has a little minor thing on (its) X-rays, I think a $100,000 goes a long way. Supply and demand is balancing out, and it will be better next year.
“There are a lot of new, different people here. You go in (the sale pavilion) and try to eat breakfast or lunch and it’s pretty busy.
“When you look at profitability, we still have a long way to go there. A real good-looking horse is going to be profitable; in fact it is going to be very profitable. On the average horse, you just hope you break even.”
Francis Vanlangendonck, Summerfield: “Everybody wants the good horses and there are still people here. Last year or the year before, you would bring horses in here that maybe had some issues, and you couldn’t give them away. But now there’s somebody here to buy those horses. You’re not going to get rich selling them, but at least you can move them. And to me, that’s great.
“We’ve been busy, busy, busy (during the sale’s second week). The day before yesterday it rained all day and we showed horses in the rain. People were actually standing in the rain looking at horses. I’ve never had that before.
"(The buyers) just went to the next book. They didn’t even look at them. They just stayed up in the sale pavilion and ate and drank and hung out and waited to look in the back walking ring. But that really wasn’t good with your better horses. If you had a horse that was worth $30,000 on pedigree but was a $100,000 horse physically, you would get maybe $50,000 or $60,000. You didn’t get that $100,000 for the physical when (buyers) were just looking in the back walking ring.”
“People who have been in the business are feeling more comfortable with what’s happening. They know that the horse they buy for ‘X’ amount isn’t going to be worth ‘X minus’ next year or next week. That’s because the market is leveling out and stabilizing. It’s not going to fall much further, and people are ready to get back into the business.”
Archie St. George, St. George Sales: “On a whole it has been a very solid sale. I didn’t sell in Book One, so I don’t really know about it, but Book Two was strong if you had a nice horse. Book Three for me was probably the best of them all. There were a lot of buyers and nice horses were selling really well. Half of (the yearlings) sold well beyond their reserves, and the other half met their reserves. We had 10 horses, and over five of them were vetted more than five times. We were really busy the two days we showed.
“Even in Book Four it was good. We had a nice Broken Vow filly and she brought $125,000, which was over double the reserve. When you get to the latter books, (the buyers) are either on your horse or they’re not. (The yearlings) bring what they bring, but there was still trade at the bottom, even right at the bottom. I think it was all very encouraging. I’m happy.
“Through the year there has been a lot more depth in the middle market, which is anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000. There were plenty of buyers there and it was strong.”
Paul Sharp, Florida pinhooker: “It’s very hard (to buy). I’m very selective; I have very high standards for what I want to buy to pinhook and those (better) horses are bringing a lot of money.”