Will Stability Help Kentucky November Sales?

The low profitability of yearlings could make buyers of broodmares cautious.

The Thoroughbred market has been more stable this year after big setbacks in 2009. But how much confidence that will give shoppers at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November select mixed sale and the Keeneland November breeding stock auction in Lexington remains to be seen.

Broodmares, which make up a large portion of the November sales’ offerings, require a long-term commitment from buyers, who need to feel good about the future when they make such investments. They also need cash or a friendly bank, but the high costs of stud fees kept the profitability of yearlings low this year and credit remains tight.

“Earlier in the year, people were still buying horses, but they just weren’t getting carried away when they were buying horses,” said Kitty Taylor of Warrendale Sales. “I think they’re going to limit what they spend.”

The Fasig-Tipton sale is scheduled for Nov. 7 and will begin at 4 p.m. (EST). It immediately follows the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 5 and 6 at nearby Churchill Downs.

“Ultimately all of us are great enthusiasts of racing and two great days of racing generally provides some great interest, enthusiasm and positive momentum heading into the sale,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “It’s also going to provide, as it does every year, some great updates for some horses that will be selling here.”

The more than 180 horses in the Fasig-Tipton sale’s catalog include Breeders’ Cup competitors and their close relatives.

“There are some beautiful mares in foal and there are fillies and mares that have been very effective at the racetrack and continue to be effective at the racetrack,” Browning said. “There are some broodmare prospects to die for and some outstanding foals. I feel very positive about the group of horses that our consignors have entrusted us with.”

The Keeneland auction starts its 13-day run Nov. 8. It also has close relatives to Breeders’ Cup runners in its catalog and there is one Breeders’ Cup competitor among the more than 4,700 lots.

“I think the (low) profitability of yearlings this year doesn’t encourage a breeder to jump up and buy another mare,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “But I think the commercial breeders who have budgets they can use when certain quality horses become available will be active.”

While domestic shoppers probably will be cautious, Russell believes there will be strong participation by foreign buyers whose currency is strong against the American dollar. Following the Keeneland September yearling sale, company representatives visited Australia, India, and South Africa in an effort to drum up interest in the November auction.

Russell also hoped the Breeders’ Cup would attract large groups of foreign breeders to Kentucky and they would remain in the Bluegrass State for the November auction.

“I’m a firm believer that having the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs a huge draw for bringing foreign horsemen to the November sale,” he said. “The people we deal with internationally are at the top of their profession, so they appreciate top class racing. If they can include top class racing in a trip to a horse sale, it’s an added boost.”

Each Keeneland session will begin at 10 a.m.