Though overall figures were down for the Keeneland November breeding stock sale that ended Nov. 20, the results were encouragingly good considering ongoing weakness in the horse industry and the United States economy at large.
Whether it marks a turnaround for the bloodstock industry remains to be seen, but there were positives. Keeneland officials said foreign trade was healthy, led by increased participation from Australian, Japanese, and Indian buyers, and foals and racing prospects proved popular.
Gross sales for the 13-day auction totaled $147,392,900 for 2,929 horses sold, down only 7.72% from $159,727,800 in 2009, when Overbrook Farm dispersed 148 horses that accounted for more than $31 million of the total. Total receipts were down 13.9% in 2009 compared with 2008, when the sale was 15 days.
The average in 2010 was $50,322, down 12.44% from $57,477 last year, while the median of $17,000 was down 15% from $20,000 in 2009.
The non-sold rate this year was 22.51%, up slightly from the 2009 figure of 21.6%, which improved by more than 20% from 2008.
“The market is very resilient, and despite some continuing challenges, we saw several positive signs for the industry,” Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell said in a statement. “As we anticipated, there has been a tremendous international presence here these past two weeks. Foreign buyers, particularly Australians, were bolstered in their spending by quickly recovering economies and thriving racing programs at home.
“Their buying power made it difficult for Americans to compete. And yet, despite a lack of available credit, Americans stepped up and bought. It was very encouraging that both the buyer and under-bidder on the sale-topper were North American-based breeders.”
This year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships was held at Churchill Downs in Kentucky Nov. 5-6. Keeneland officials said that traditionally helps the numbers at the November sale, which this year began Nov. 8, two days after the event.
Eight horses sold for $1 million or more this year versus five in 2009. Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs Farm purchased Irish stakes winner Dreamtheimpossible, in foal to leading European sire Galileo, for a sale-topping $2.55 million. She was consigned by Eaton Sales, agent.
Russell cited the strong market for weanlings and racing prospects as another healthy aspect of the November sale. Two weanling colts and one filly each sold for $450,000—highest price for a weanling. Last November, a weanling colt and filly each topped the sale at $440,000.
“Quality individuals were highly prized by pinhookers and end-users alike,” Russell said. “Interest was also keen for racing prospects, which were featured during the second week of the sale. Those consignments created a unique energy and attracted several buyers who might not otherwise have attended a breeding stock sale.”
Keeneland reported that buyers from 34 countries with improving economies and favorable exchange rates aided the November sale. There were first-time buyers from Australia and South Africa, while those from other countries, particularly those in Asia and South America, spent more money.
Foreign purchases accounted for six of the eight horses sold for $1 million or more. Half of those eight were bought by Australian or Japanese interests, officials said.
Aisling Duignan, acting on behalf of Ireland’s Coolmore Stud, was the sale’s leading buyer, purchasing multiple grade I stakes winner Society Selection, in foal to Medaglia d'Oro , for $1.85 million, and Golden Ballet, dam of 2010 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Drosselmeyer and in foal to Unbridled's Song, for $1.4 million. Both mares were offered by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, which for the 16th time ranked as the November auction’s leading consignor with 340 horses sold for $26,923,800.
Japan’s Shadai Farm acquired Lucky One, carrying a full sibling to 2010 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Blind Luck, for $1.85 million. Lucky One was consigned by Fairlawn Farm.
On Nov. 20, the final day of the sale, 134 horses sold for $717,500 for an average of $5,354 and a median of $3,100. During the final session in 2009, 131 horses brought $803,600 for an average of $6,134 and a median of $2,700.
Jose Luis Miglietti paid top price of $46,000 for Blackberry Road, a graded stakes-placed son of Gone West and a half brother to champion and sire Vindication. Consigned by Three Chimneys Sales, agent, Blackberry Road was sold as a racing or stallion prospect.