Hannah J. Goodman

Keeneland: Market for Good Horses

The session-topper of Keeneland's 10th session was a $190,000 Tale of the Cat colt.

With the second week of the Keeneland September yearling sale drawing to a close Sept. 18, numbers continue to be down, though buyers and consignors are still claiming it’s a strong market for a quality horse. 

“Based on the figures, there’s less slippage than there was in yesterday’s session from the previous year,” said Tom Thornbury, Keeneland’s director of sales. 

During the sale’s 10th session Sept. 18, which was highlighted by a $190,000 purchase, 259 horses sold for $7,386,400, a gross figure down 16.4% from $8,840,400 for 292 horses the same day last year. The average declined 5.8%, from $32,750 to $28,519, while the median dropped 9.1% from $22,000 last year to $20,000 this year. The RNA rate was up this year at 29%, compared with 20.2% last year.

Overall, after 10 days, 2,492 horses have been sold for $313,084,500, down 13.9% from last year’s $363,554,600 when 2,561 horses were sold during the same time frame. The sale's overall average is down 11.5% from $141,958 to $125,636. The median of $70,000 is down 6.7% from $75,000.

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

“There’s a little more solid footing,” Thornbury said. “A couple horses went for a good bit of money. Again, there’s an awful lot of interest for a very select few horses, and not a lot of interest for those that don’t make the mark. That’s the market we’re in right now.” 

Tim Hamm, an Ohio-based trainer who owns Blazing Meadows Farm, pointed out some other positives about the sale in spite of the continually declining numbers. 

“When you identify a short list of horses, they’re still tough to buy,” Hamm said. “Today, I think you can get a lot of pedigree for the price."

"We bought a filly out of a mare that made $500,000 as a graded stakes winner for $52,000,” he said, referring to a Value Plus filly consigned by John Stuart’s Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services, agent , for Rob Whiteley’s Liberation Farm and Select Bloodstock. Bert Welker, general manager for Stonewall Farm Stallions, signed the ticket for the filly, after which Hamm joined as a partner.

“So I think you’re getting a lot of value today,” Hamm said. When reflecting on the sale overall, he said: “I think the sale on a good, clean horse is still hard to get.”

Stuart made an even better transaction than the Value Plus filly Sept. 18 when he sold a Pennsylvania-bred E Dubaicolt out of the Polish Numbers mare Polish Choice for $75,000.

“He brought a little more than I thought he would bring,” Stuart said. “I thought he would bring $50,000 or $60,000, but he’s a registered Pennsylvania-bred, and those are good to have, because they’re running for a lot more money there than they are in other places.”

Overall, Stuart said the Keeneland sale was “a market that is correcting itself. It’s down, and it needed a correction. It would have had a correction whether it was bad economy or not, I think, because we’ve had a lot of good years. We’ve got a correction, and the horses will be more reasonable for what they run for, and there will be buyers back in.

"Right now, we don’t have any new buyers. In fact, the industry isn’t doing anything to bring any new buyers back in.” 

The Sept. 18 session-topper, a New York-bred colt by Tale of the Cat  out of the stakes-placed Dehere mare Dehere of the Dog, was purchased by Maverick Racing from Peter O’Callaghan’s Woods Edge Farm. 

During the sale’s second session , Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm also went to $1.2 million under the Maverick Racing title to purchase a son of farm stallion Distorted Humor  out of the English group I winning Nureyev mare Crystal Music. Maverick Racing currently ranks eighth on the cumulative leading buyers list.

The second highest-priced horse during the Sept. 18 session was a colt by Medaglia D’Oro out of the stakes-placed Woodman mare Babeinthewoods. The Kentucky-bred colt was purchased for $180,000 by Arch Bloodstock, agent for Avalon Farm. He was consigned by Tom Evans’ Trackside Farm, agent for Liberation Farm and partners.

For detailed analysis of the results of Day 9 and a preview of Day 10, Download the Data Digest.