The buy-back rate was one of the best-performing statistics through three sessions of the Keeneland November breeding stock auction in Lexington. It stood at 21.1%, the same as last year, when selling ended for the day Nov. 10.
“One of the major points of emphasis in 2010 has been that we want to see healthy trade,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “The consignors are to be commended for understanding and evaluating the market, which is reflected in the good buy-back rates.”
The other cumulative figures included a gross of $91,594,100 for the 580 horses that were sold. The average price was $157,921 and the median price was $100,000. Compared to 2009, the number sold was up 6%, but the gross was down 7%. The average and median also declined, falling 12.3% and 9.1%, respectively.
“People aren’t looking for quantity, they’re looking for quality, and they have been very selective whether they’re buying mares or foals,” Russell said. “They’re looking at mares very hard -- their produce records as well as who they’re covered by. They’re giving premiums to the younger mares that are well-covered and there is a discount on the middle-aged mares.”
The 254 horses that were sold during the third session grossed $21,249,100 and averaged $83,658. The median was $65,000. The number sold was up less than 1% from 2009’s third session, but the gross dropped 20.8%. The average declined 21.4% while the median fell 13.3%.
The buy-back rate increased to 23.3% from 19.5% last year.
“It was another good, consistent session,” Russell said. “Again, as we’ve said before, it’s difficult to compare November sessions from year to year because of dispersals. Last year at this session, we had two horses from the Overbrook Farm dispersal that sold for more than $500,000 (apiece). Taking that into consideration, I was happy with where we were at.”
Added-money winner Lady Alexander, who was offered as a racing or broodmare prospect, was the session’s most expensive horse, selling for $410,000 to Keith and Ginger Myers’ Coteau Grove Farms of Louisiana. Keith Myers made his offers on the telephone through Spanky Assiter, a Keeneland auctioneer who sat in one of the buyers’ seats in the sale pavilion during the bidding.
Coteau Grave is a breed-to-race operation and the Myerses plan to keep Lady Alexander in training and run her before retiring her to their broodmare band, according to Coteau Grove’s racing manager and trainer Glenn Delahoussaye. Coteau Grove tried to buy horses during the first two sessions of the Keeneland auction, including the $1.55-million Irish champion Heart Shaped (by Storm Cat), who was in foal to A.P. Indy, but was unsuccessful in making an acquisition until it purchased Lady Alexander, a 4-year-old daughter of Exchange Rate.
Delahoussaye, who attended the auction, but had departed by the time Lady Alexander was led into the sale ring, said in a telephone interview with reporters that one of the reasons he liked the chestnut filly was because she physically resembles Heart Shaped. In addition, “we went over her with a fine-toothed comb, and I was amazed at the quality of her (Lady Alexander’s ) vet work,” the trainer continued. “Basically, she’s a sprinter and sprints are hard on horses, but this filly’s vet work was very good. She’s a beautiful-legged filly. She’s got a nice long walk on her, and she’s just a beautiful physical specimen. I think she’s the type of mare that’s going to throw you a good foal physically.”
Consigned by Three Chimneys Sales, agent, Lady Alexander has won the Regret and Red Cross Stakes at Monmouth Park and the Manatee Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs this year. Last year, she captured the Mongo Queen Stakes at Monmouth and the Honey Bee Handicap at Meadowlands. She has earned $369,008 and has won seven times in 18 career races.
Lady Alexander’s price was hefty, but not unexpected by Delahoussaye.
“Because we weren’t able to acquire what we sought after the first two days, we probably decided to go a little stronger on this filly,” he said. “I thought she would have brought around $300,000 roughly. I asked him (Keith Myers) not to do anything crazy and I don’t think he did. He paid a little more than I think he thought he was going to have to. But to get good fillies coming off the racetrack, you have to go to bat.”
Coteau Grove, which has been in existence several years, emphasizes quality over quantity, according to Delahoussaye. It has approximately 20 horses in training, and around eight broodmares. Clear Sailing, a daughter of Empire Maker , carried Coteau Grove’s colors to victory in this year’s Pelleteri Stakes at the Fair Grounds.
“I know there is a stakes for her (Lady Alexander) at the Fair Grounds in December,” Delahoussaye said. “We’re going to campaign her there to start with and we’ll do Oaklawn with her. But you can never turn a blind eye to Delta Downs because those slot-fueled purses are very lucrative.”
Produced form the winning Housebuster mare Lady Ironwood, Lady Alexander is a half sister to Yes It’s the Truth (by Yes It's True), who finished second in the 2009 Fireplug Stakes at Laurel Park.
Wine and Dyne, a 6-year-old winning daughter of Dynaformer, was the second-highest-priced horse sold during the third session. Nicoma Bloodstock, agent, purchased her for $350,000 from Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent.
“She’s for Nancy Dillman, who is the breeder of (gr. II winner) Havre de Grace (who finished third in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, gr. I),” said Nicoma’s Headley Bell. “She (Dillman) is a dear friend and client for 30 years. We’re delighted to have her (Lady Alexander). I actually considered buying her as a yearling and ended up not bidding after doing my last looks, so I’ve kind of followed her racing to see whether I was right or wrong. She is a big, beautiful Dynaformer mare and I just liked her pedigree blend very, very well and Nancy Dillman did as well.”
Wine and Dyne, who was a $450,000 graduate of the 2005 Keeneland September yearling auction, won two of her 25 career races and earned $128,897. In foal to Giant’s Causeway, she is carrying her first foal.
Produced from the winning Dixieland Band mare Southern Swing, Wyne and Dyne is a half sister to Mr. Pee Vee (by Eltish), winner of the 2004 Rex’s Profile Stakes at Calder Race Course (now known as Calder Casino & Race Course) and the grade I-placed winner Erinsouthernman (by Eltish).
“The price was right about the top of what I wanted to pay,” Bell said. “I valued her at $250,000 to $350,000. She is in foal to Giant’s Causeway and that’s a big deal. That (cross) breeds a racehorse; it’s more than just commercial.”
Dillman, who breeds commercially, has four mares, but plans to pension one, so Wine and Dyne will replace that producer, according to Bell.
“The market is very selective; there is no question about it,” said Bell, agreeing with Russell’s assessment of the November business environment. “I play both sides (as a buyer and a seller) and (as a buyer) I don’t have depth of consideration for horses; I find myself not having a very broad list. I can appreciate from the buying standpoint that there is not something for everybody, but there is plenty of money around for those horses that do fit all the criteria. For the others, it (the demand) slides pretty quickly downward.”
The session’s most expensive weanling was a Street Sense colt, who is a member of his sire’s second crop. Paramount Sales’ Gabriel Duignan signed the $330,000 sale ticket for the bay weanling in the name of Foxtale Farm.
“I thought he was nicest foal I had seen all week,” Duignan said. “Everything about him was great. For the likes of him the market is very, very strong, but it’s very spotty below that.”
The plan for the colt is to resell him as a weanling.
Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, the weanling is a half brother to the winner Cherokee Express (by Cherokee Run). Their dam, the 7-year-old Forestry mare Autumnal, finished second once in three career races and is a full sister to the winner Sisti’s Pride, who finished second in the Irish Sonnet Stakes at Delaware Park and third in the Tempted Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct in 2003.
Hertrich/McCarthy Livestock, Fred W. Hertrich III, and John D. Fielding bred the $330,000 weanling in Kentucky.