Anne M. Eberhardt

Keeneland: Book 6 Figures Tumble

All major indices at the September sale fall hard against '07 comparable figures

Selling yearlings at the Keeneland September sale got a lot tougher during Friday’s session in Lexington, as all major indices fell hard against previous year’s figures. Beyond the outside forces of unrest on Wall Street and a slowed economy on Main Street, the dreaded “o” word inside the Thoroughbred marketplace is having an impact.

“Now that we’re into Book 6, we’re beginning to see it (the effects of overproduction),” said Tom Thornbury, Keeneland’s associate director of sales, early in the day Sept. 19. “The market is just the messenger. A lot of people didn’t want to listen about it the last two years, but they’ll have to now.”

The day saw 276 horses sell for $6,203,400. During the similar session last year, 289 horses sold for $8,332,500. The number sold dropped 4.5% while the gross fell 25.6%. This year’s average for the session, $22,476, was 22% less than last year’s $28,832. The median fell 33.3% from $20,000 a year ago to $15,000.

In a weak defense of today’s market, last year’s Day 11 figures skyrocketed when compared to the previous year’s figures. For example, the 2007 gross was up 47.4% over the same session in 2006.

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

Karen Hogan, who owns Gaulstown Stud with her husband, Edmond, noted this year’s market for yearlings has been tough on the small breeder/consignor. Gaulstown Stud, located in Mercer County, has a five-horse consignment to the September sale.

“See those prices,” Karen asked rhetorically following a colt bringing $1,000 in the ring early on. “You think to yourself, we still have four more days (the sale has 1,400 more yearlings cataloged and runs through Tuesday, Sept. 23). We had a Mizzen Mast  filly go through the ring today and bought her back for $39,000. We weren’t going to give her away. However, if they (the buyers) do like a horse, they’re all over it.”

Four colts brought six-figure prices during the session. The topper, a bay colt by Bernstein, out of the Carson City mare Sparkler, sold for $195,000 to Gulf Coast Farm. The dam is a half-sister to grade II winner Softly and grade III winner Coragil Cat. The colt was consigned by Doug Arnold’s Buck Pond Farm, agent. The stakes-placed second dam, Coragil, is from the immediate family of a slew of stakes winners including Til Forbid and Cinch.

Two of the other three colts were purchased by Off The Hook. Early in the day, they went to $160,000 for a son of Holy Bull, and late in the session went to $170,000 for a Forest Danger colt consigned by Gracefield, agent. The latter is a half-brother to grade I winner and sire D'wildcat.

At last year’s comparable session, the top price was $235,000.

Meg Levy, who operates Bluewater Sales, noted today’s buyer “is sophisticated, and whether it’s at $20,000 or $200,000, they all want the same horse. We have a lot of people looking at the vet certificates.

“Everybody in the middle of the market wants the same thing: a horse they can re-sell. It’s like eBay,” Levy said, who had about 20 cataloged in Friday’s session. “We’re trying to adjust, just like everybody else.”

To date, 2,768 yearlings have been sold during the September sale. The gross, $319,287,900 is down 14.1% from last year. The average, $115,350, is down 11.6% from 2007 figures, and the median is off 10.4% from $67,000 to $60,000.

The Keeneland September sale resumes Saturday at 10 a.m.

For detailed analysis of the results of Day 11 and a preview of Day 12, Download the Data Digest.