Consignor Eddie Woods

Consignor Eddie Woods

Anne M. Eberhardt

Looking Back: Keeneland Market Was Tough

The April sale of 2-year-olds in training suffered downturns.

The Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training was the fifth and final major select juvenile auction of the year, and its results followed the downward trends seen at the earlier sales. Here’s what buyers and consignors had to say about the market in Lexington April 6 and 7:

Mike McMahon, bloodstock agent and pinhooker: “There are trainers here who watch these horses train. If they don’t like them, that’s it. There’s very little middle market for the most part, and that means there’s not much trade during the sale. But there is a lot of trade after the fact. People called today (April 7, following the auction’s first session) about horses that were ‘RNA’d’ and scratched.”

Eddie Woods, consignor: “It’s been really tough. You know you’re good or you know you’re dead. When you bring a horse up here, and you know the buyers aren’t tied on, there are no surprises. It’s a product of the financial environment. The horse business is just suffering right along with everything else. The same guys are buying the horses all the time; they’re the wealthy people that the recession doesn’t affect too much.”
Patrice Miller, EQB, consultant and buyer: “They (the buyers) either love them or they hate them. I just watched Tony Bowling (a consignor) buy a horse for $4,000. He looked up and said, ‘That’s not a bad horse; it’s got to be worth that.’ I worry about what’s going to happen at the yearling sales. I think we’re in for some trouble.”

Randy Hartley, Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds: “The market is like it’s always been. The good horses are selling, and the other ones aren’t. We’ve just got to all wait it (the global financial crisis) out. The market is going to come back. But right now, everybody is kind of keeping their hands in their pockets and just buying what they absolutely have to have.”

Steve Young, bloodstock agent: “There is a decent amount of quality horses here, and when you  look back in a couple of years from now, I think you’ll see that there were some nice horses here (based on their racetrack performances). Last night (during the sale’s April 6 opening session) when I was working, I thought the hammer prices were pretty strong, but when you go through the results sheet, you can see it’s tough for the sellers and that’s just a reflection of the outside world.”

Dr. Steve Carr, Centennial Farms: “I think you’re seeing a change (in the juvenile market). They (buyers) are getting away from speed only. A fast breeze used to automatically sell a horse, but now, that doesn’t have to be the case. If a horse is tall, good-looking, ‘scopey,’ and moves well, but doesn’t post a black-type breeze, I think they (shoppers) are more likely to buy them than they have might have been in the past.

“I wish there were discounts; there aren’t any for the top level horses. Anybody who wants to come here and buy nice horses that would do well at the races and they could have fun with, those are a bargain. But if you want to go to New York and win the better races, those horses still cost a lot.”

Bob Baffert, trainer: “The market is still strong for the good horses, but it’s a realistic market. I’m glad it’s that way because now the end user has a chance to come out (recoup his investment).”