Hip#675; Vestrey Lady, who is in foal to Broken Vow, was the $300,000 session topper for the 2nd day of the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale.

Hip#675; Vestrey Lady, who is in foal to Broken Vow, was the $300,000 session topper for the 2nd day of the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Downward Spiral Continues at Keeneland

All key indices drop sharply.

The Keeneland January horses of all ages sale continued its scary downward spiral during the second session of its six-day run in Lexington. The gross revenue Jan. 13 dropped 66.2% from a year ago while the average price fell 61.6%. The median price plunged 55.8% while the number of horses sold was down least of all, 12.1%.

According to Keeneland’s director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, a factor in the steep drops was the lower quality of the catalog compared to previous years. Many owners, he explained, chose to hold on to their better horses rather than try to sell them in a struggling marketplace.

Three horses brought seven-figure prices during 2008’s second session. This year, the top price was only $300,000.

“These horses were entered in November when people realized there was a major financial crisis, so the quality was kept back and then you just factor in the global economy on top of that,” Russell said. “As a sale within itself, from start to finish, there was competitive bidding on the better lots. The auctioneers felt like it was a stronger session even compared to yesterday. The people I’ve talked to – both sellers and buyers – felt the day had a good feel to it for what was here.”

The 210 horses that sold grossed $9,145,700 and averaged $43,551. The median was $26,500. During last year's second session, the 239 horses that sold grossed $27,088,200 and averaged $113,340. The median was $60,000.

The buy-back rate rose from 21.1% in 2008 to 23.1% this year.

“The broodmares have really been penalized,” said Kentucky bloodstock agent Mike Ryan. “If a guy has the capital, I don’t know of a better time in the last 15 years to get in and buy mares because you’re really getting mares worth the money. Some of these mares are going to foal in weeks. But it’s just the world we’re living in right now; it’s tough. It seems to me the further they are away from the racetrack, the less people want to buy them.”

Through Kitty Taylor’s Warrendale Sales, Ryan sold Rose of Killarney, a 4-year-old half-sister to 2008 Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I) winner Laragh (by Tapit ), for $290,000. Eaton Sales’ Reiley McDonald, who signed the sale ticket, declined to reveal Rose of Killarney’s new owner. The bay filly is a winning daughter of Proud Citizenand the unraced 8-year-old El Pradomare Rose of Summer.

“I’ve got a lot of the family, and it’s paying bills; it’s just commerce,” said Ryan of why he put Rose of Killarney in the January sale. “The price was above the reserve by a decent bit, and I was pleased. You’ve got to be realistic. She had of plenty of activity at the barn; there was a lot of interest in her. I think there is a stakes in her.”

McDonald described the price for Rose of Killarney as reasonable.

“She’s a nice little race mare, and her sister is very good,” he said. “We have an A.P. Indyseason for her when she gets done racing. The client I bought her for wanted to get something with some El Prado blood up front, so she seemed like a natural. I actually think with a little rest she’ll be able to come back, and we’ll get a little black type out of her. I think we are going to send her to Florida to freshen her up. I want her to get out in the sun. I want her in a round pen. I want her to eat a little grass, get a little weight back on her, and relax, and with any luck, we’ll have her right back here for the Keeneland (spring) meet.”

Laragh is an added-money winner at Keeneland.

Vestrey Lady, who is in foal to Broken Vow , was the $300,000 session topper. Nobuo Tsunoda of Japan bought her from Bernard McCormack’s Cara Bloodstock, agent.

A 6-year-old dark bay or brown daughter of Vicar out of the winning Kris S. mare Episode, Vestrey Lady captured the 2007 Royal North Stakes (Can-IIIT) and the 2006 Duchess and La Lorgnette Stakes at Woodbine in Canada. She also finished second in the 2007 Sweet Briar Too Stakes at Woodbine and the 2006 Lexus Raven Run Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland while earning $490,754.

Liberation Farm, Oratis Thoroughbreds, and the Select Broodmare Fund 2000 bred Vestrey Lady in Kentucky. Trackside Farm, agent, sold her for $6,000 to Delahoussaye Bloodstock at the 2004 Keeneland September yearling sale. She raced for Harlequin Ranches.

The January auction’s cumulative figures through two sessions were 412 horses sold, a gross of $21,091,600, an average of $51,193, and a median of $27,000. Compared to 2008, the number sold declined 5.1% from 434. The gross plummeted 56.4% from $48,414,100. The average dropped 54.1% from $111,553. And the median fell 53.8% from $58,500.

The buy-back rate decreased from 26.9% in 2008 to 24.8% this year.

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