Keeneland April 2YOIT sale 2011.

Keeneland April 2YOIT sale 2011.

Coady Photography/Keeneland

Keeneland Sale Shows Signs of Stabilization

Average price is down only 3.7% and the buy-back rate declines.

The Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training generated figures that were close to last year’s results, providing more evidence that the Thoroughbred marketplace is in the process of stabilizing after one of its worst ever downturns.

The gross revenue of $11,564,000 for the 70 horses that were sold April 11 in Lexington was down 3.7% from 2010. The average price declined 2.4% to $165,200 while the median price fell 3.7% to $130,000.

Seventy-one 2-year-olds were sold last year. 

“When all was said and done, it was an OK sale,” said consignor Eddie Woods of Florida. “You just have to be very realistic and screw your own head on right to realize what you have. You can’t get any of those airy-fairy ideas about your horses or you’ll be wrong. But when you brought up a really nice horse here, it sold really, really well."

The buy-back rate was 32.7%, with 34 of the 104 horses offered failing to find new homes. Sellers scratched 65 (38.5%) of the 169 horses cataloged. Last year's buy-back rate was 36.6%.

“In this day and time, with the economy the way it is, being as close to last year as we were was pretty good in our opinion,” said Walt Robertson, Keeneland’s vice president of sales.

A strapping Indian Charlie colt topped the auction, bringing $625,000 and equaling the most expensive price for last year’s edition of the sale. Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables purchased the leggy bay juvenile. The immediate underbidder was B. Wayne Hughes, owner of Spendthrift Farm in Central Kentucky.

Produced from the winning A.P. Indy mare Teenage Temper, the colt is a half brother to the winner My Phi Temper (by More Than Ready ) and his second dam, Pleasant Temper (by Storm Cat) was a grade III winner. Other family members include grade I winner A P Valentine.

“He’s a real pretty horse, big and strong, so hopefully he’ll go on and do some great things this time next year,”  said Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan, who is a key Stonestreet adviser. “The price was high; I was thinking it would be $400,000 to $500,000, something like that. But we liked the him, so we took a shot.”

Randy Hartley and Dean De Renzo’s Florida-based Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds, agent, consigned the colt, which worked an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5 over Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack surface.

“I don’t think he really liked this racetrack,” Moynihan said. “We saw him train down in Florida, and he trains a lot better on the dirt than he does here. You could tell he was just jumping and kind of switching his leads (on the Polytrack). He just had a little trouble with it.”

Hartley and De Renzo purchased the colt for $150,000 from Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling auction. Mark Stanley bred him in Kentucky.

“He was our pick of the Saratoga sale and honestly, we didn’t think we were going to be able to buy him,” Hartley said. “But he was a little fat and he didn’t look quite as sleek as he does now. He kind of just fell through cracks. Mark Taylor (of Taylor Made) called me and said, ‘Hey, I’m not getting the people lined up on this horse,’ and I bought him like 10 minutes later. When the hammer fell at $150,000 I was like, ‘Did I just get that beautiful horse for only $150,000?’ ”

Hartley and De Renzo originally entered the colt in the Fasig-Tipton Florida select juvenile sale in early March, but what they thought was a spider bite caused some swelling close to that auction and they scratched him.

“We’ve been touting this horse all year long,” Hartley said. “John has been hearing about him since I got him home (from Saratoga). He’s looks like a 3-year-old compared to the rest of the horses in the Keeneland sale. He looks like a monster, and he did when I bought him. I’m so excited John got him. I think he got the real deal.

“In this market right now we’re pleased with the price,” Hartley added. “We kind of hoped (for more) because of all the action at the barn. He got a lot of vet exams and a lot of the major people were on him. But everybody is just kind of being a little conservative now.”

Stonestreet also purchased the Keeneland auction’s second-highest-priced horse, a $485,000 War Front  colt. Ciaran and Amy Dunne’s Wavertree Stables, agent, consigned the dark bay or brown juvenile, which is out of the winning mare El Prado mare La Prada. A half brother to the winner Primping (by Chapel Royal), he worked an eighth in :10.

Ciaran Dunne, in the name of John Savino, acquired the colt for $60,000 from Peter Sheppell Thoroughbreds, agent, at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling auction.

With gross expenditures of $1,110,000, Stonestreet ranked second on the Keeneland sale’s list of biggest spenders. No. 1 was Danny Dion’s Canada-based Bear Stables, which spent $1,205,000 for six head. Third was Lake Villa Farm, which paid $935,000 for three 2-year-olds. Information on the sale tickets for those horses indicated Lake Villa was associated with Katsumi Yoshida, the owner of Northern Farm in Japan.

The Keeneland sale was the last major select auction of the juvenile selling season. The select juvenile sales that preceded it produced mixed results, but some of the statistics showed improvement from a year ago and the declines generally weren't as steep as they had been in the recent past.