Anne M. Eberhardt

Gross, Average Rebound at Keeneland Jan. Sale

The median price declined for the third year in a row.

The slumping market in recent years at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale took a turn for the better in several important statistical categories during the auction’s latest edition in Lexington.

“We’ve seen some increases, which is always positive, and I think that should give breeders a little bounce in their step going into the breeding season that they didn’t have the last two years,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales.

The number of horses sold during the auction’s five-day run, which ended Jan. 14, rose 4% from last year to 1,020, ending a three-year decline. The gross revenue advanced 5.7% to $25,246,850, also halting a three-year setback.

In addition, the average price increased 1.6% to $24,752 after dropping for two consecutive years. But the median, which fell for the third year in a row, declined 6.3% to $7,500.

The buy-back/no bid rate of 27.4% was about the same, rising slightly from 27% in 2010.

(In both this year and last, there was a stallion share that brought $3,500, which The Blood-Horse doesn't include in its figures for the January sale.)

“It’s nice to know that the market, for the most part, is not getting worse,” said Andrew Cary of Select Sales. “When we were in the middle of the auction downturn and didn’t know how far the deflation was going to go, that was when it was really scary because you didn’t know when you were going to land at the bottom. But I think we’ve all landed, and now it’s a matter of how long it will be until the market starts to turn around.

"We’ll probably have some bumps along the way, but at least we’ve stopped falling in most areas.”

The top price for an individual horse at the January auction rose to $1.4 million from $1.085 million last year, and the number of horses that were sold for amounts of $500,000 or more increased to four from two last year.

But consignors still struggled to sell horses at the middle and lower levels of the market, and believed that too many of their offerings failed to command any interest from shoppers.

“The buyers were there for the horses if they wanted them, but there were a lot of horses that they didn’t want,” said Craig Bandoroff of Denali Stud. “I think what used to be the middle (in quality) has dropped to the bottom, so the sale was probably a little tougher than what I hoped it would be.

“We had some horses sell fine, but we had some others that weren’t junk and nobody was there for them.  That’s why I’m a little discouraged.”

During the final session, the 172 horses sold grossed $895,500 and averaged $5,206. The median was $3,000. Compared with 2010’s final session, the number sold rose 3.6%, but the gross declined 18.3%.

The average fell 21.1%. while the median remained the same. The buy-back/no bid rate rose to 33.6% from 33.1% last year.

Poetfromthepulpit, who was offered as a racing or broodmare prospect, brought the fifth day’s most expensive price of $40,000. Carlos S.E. Moore, agent, purchased her from Vinery, agent.

A 3-year-old daughter of Pulpit, Poetfromthepulpit has finished second once in three career races. She is out of the winning King of Kings mare Kivi, who was second in the 2003 La Coupe des Pouliches in France.

Poetfromthepulpit is a half sister to the winners Principessa Olmo (by Gulch) and Regally Ready (by More Than Ready), who finished third in this year’s Daytona Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita Park.