Anne M. Eberhardt

Keeneland Gross Down Fourth Straight Day

Dramatic fall in trade continues.

A Street Cry yearling filly was the only horse to bring a six-figure amount as the gross revenue, average price, and median price dropped dramatically for the fourth consecutive day at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale in Lexington. Compared to a year ago, the gross and average for the Jan. 15 session each declined 48.8% while the median fell 60%.

“There’s no sugar-coating the fact that it’s tough,” said Kitty Taylor of Warrendale Sales. “People are losing money, and everybody’s waiting to see what is going to happen in the next six or seven months. In Book 1 (of the auction's catalog), we did pretty well with a handful of horses, and they carried the others that didn’t do so well. But at one point today, we came up here with a horse and there weren’t 10 people back here (in the rear of the sale pavilion). But if you bring the right one up here, they (the buyers) are still going to pay for it.”

The 239 horses that sold grossed $3,442,600 and averaged $14,404. The median was $8,000. Last year, when the same number of horses was sold, the gross was $6,725,800 and the average was $28,141. The median was $20,000.

The buy-back/no bid rate fell from 21.6% last year to 19.3% this year.

The session-topping Street Cry filly sold for $125,000 to Front Range Farm. The person who signed the sale ticket didn’t want to be identified, but she is associated with Gerry Dilger’s Dromoland Farm. Produced from the 21-year-old unraced Nureyev mare Dot Dot Dash, the bay yearling is a half-sister to stakes winner Dash of Humor (by Distorted Humor ). Other family members include Unusual Heat, a leading California sire.

Evan Brann, Connie Brann, and Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation bred the $125,000 filly in Kentucky. She was consigned to the January auction by Tom Evans’ Trackside Farm.

“She is a nice, strong, solid filly, and she has a nice family” Evans said. “She did a great job of showing herself, and she’s by Street Cry; that’s a good combination. She’s one of those fillies that has a lot of potential. When you bring an individual like her up here, the money shows up.”

A Broken Vow yearling colt was the second-highest-priced horse sold at $92,000. Sugar Valley Farm was the buyer, and Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services, as agent, was the consignor. The colt is out of the 14-year-old grade III winner Go Again Valid (by Valid Appeal) and is a half-brother to three winners.

“That was a really good price, I thought,” said Bluegrass Thoroughbred’s John Stuart. “He was a really nice colt. Broken Vow is a real solid sire, but he was a little slow this past year. This colt wasn’t as leggy as most of the Broken Vows, but he had a little stronger body. He was a shorter one, but had a big engine. He was a nice, correct, sound horse.

“There are four or five pinhooking groups here,” Stuart added, “and if you get two of them going against each other, then it’s good. They pick off the best. They’ve got to have a certain number of horses, and they’ve got a lot of money.”

In general, Stuart hasn’t been disappointed by the market at Keeneland.

“I’ve been kind of pleased with it, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’ve had some horses in there that I thought brought plenty of money -- last year’s prices – today and each day. I think it’s because there is basically a lack of quality here.

"A lot of people entered their horses and then withdrew them, and that left very few with quality. For those few, the market has been fine. It (owners deciding to scratch horses) is a bad thing for the sale company because these people come to town looking for quality -- some from Europe--and there’s not enough. They complain. But it’s the January sale and times are tough, and you can’t blame people for withdrawing their horses if they don’t think they are going to get close (to what they want).”

A yearling half-sister to The Green Monkey, whose $16-million price is the most expensive ever for a Thoroughbred sold at public auction, brought $90,000 from Park Ave. Racing. Eaton Sales, agent, was the consignor of the daughter of Successful Appeal out of the 11-year-old winning Unbridled mare Magical Masquerade.

“She looked better than The Green Monkey,” said Eaton’s Tom VanMeter of the yearling. “She had a huge hip and was very correct. She had a lot of quality and a lot a class.”

The cumulative figures through the first four sessions of the Keeneland January auction were 881 horses sold, a gross of $28,978,000, an average of $32,892, and a median of $15,000. Compared to 2008, the number sold decreased 2.8% from 906. The gross plunged 53.9% from $62,912,300. The average fell 52.6% from $69,440. And the median declined 50% from $30,000.

The buy-back/no bid rate dropped from 24.6% last year to 22.8% this year.

The Keeneland sale runs through Jan. 17, with sessions beginning at 10 a.m. (EST) each day.

For complete results from this sale, including Hip-by-Hips and cumulative sale results, click here.