Anne M. Eberhardt

Third Session Results Positive at Keeneland

The gross, average, and median all improve from a year ago.

The Keeneland January sale turned in a solid third session even though the number of quality mares and yearlings on offer decreased significantly from the Central Kentucky auction’s first two days when four lots brought more than $500,000 apiece. The number of horses sold, gross, median, and average price Jan. 12 all increased from third-day figures a year ago.

A factor in the improving statistics, according to Keeneland’s director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, is that there seems to be a slowly growing interest in acquiring broodmares and broodmare prospects, even ones that aren’t considered the very best producers or those whom didn't win the most important races.

“I think it’s a factor that the production costs have gotten to the point that it is reasonable to buy mares,” he said. “Stud fees have dropped. Stallions used to stand for $100,000 without even missing a beat; now they stand for $35,000.”

Foreign buyers, he added, also have contributed a surge even though the representatives of Japan's Yoshida family, who were prominent during the first two session, no longer were active.

“There were a lot of international people here today,” Russell said. “There were South Americans and Russians, and that’s always helpful.”

The results included a gross of $2,878,150 for the 227 horses that were sold. The average was $12,679 and the median was $7,000. Compared to 2010, the number sold and gross rose 7.6% and 12.4% respectively. The average and median advanced 4.5% and 27.3%, respectively.

The buyback rate, meanwhile, rose from 22.4% last year to 24.8%.

“I’m looking for short yearlings,” said Florida pinhooker Tony Bowling, “and I think the market is very strong for the right horse; one that’s got a little pedigree, has a good physical, and walks good will get all the money. There aren’t that many of that type of horse here, but when one comes through, it really brings the bucks.”

Cuvee Uncorked, a stakes-winning broodmare prospect, was the third session’s most expensive horse, bringing $135,000.Glencrest Farm and the mare’s co-breeder, Bill Betz, purchased the 5-year-old daughter of Cuvee from Robert Clay’s Three Chimneys Sales, agent. She was the only horse sold on the third day that brought a six-figure price.

Bred by Needham/Betz Thoroughbreds and Bena Halecky in Kentucky, Cuvee Uncorked won three of her seven career races while racing for Fisher Wallace Stable and being trained by Timothy G. Walters. The chestnut mare captured the 2009 Poker Night Stakes at Aqueduct. Her other efforts included third-place finishes in the 2009 Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct and the 2010 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel Park.

Cuvee Uncorked is a $42,000 graduate of the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale, where William R. Osier bought her from Needham-Betz Thoroughbreds, agent. She is out of the winning With Approval mare Sealedwithapproval, who is a half sister to added-money winner Holy Fashion (by Holy Bull).

The cumulative statistics for the first three sessions of the January sale included a gross of $22,478,350 and an average of $36,314 that were up 9.4% and 9%, respectively, from last year. The median of $13,000 was down 7.1%, but the number of lots sold was about the same --  619 (618 horses and one stallion share) compared to 617 (616 horses and one stallion share) in 2010.

The Keeneland horses of all ages sale runs through Jan. 14, with each session beginning at 10 a.m. (EST).