Duncan Taylor is taking a realistic view of the current state of the sales market.

Duncan Taylor is taking a realistic view of the current state of the sales market.

Joseph DiOrio

Results Expected by Buyers and Sellers

There were few surprises for buyers and sellers during Keeneland's opening session.

The 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale got off to an interesting start Sept. 8, with the median holding steady while the gross, average, and number of horses sold fell off from last year.

The session grossed $56,047,000 for 154 head sold. The average was $363,942 and the median was $300,000. The gross slipped 16.8% and the number sold fell 9.9%. The average slipped 7.7%.

The day’s top price was $3.1 million for a daughter of A.P. Indyout of grade III winner Chimichurri (by Elusive Quality) purchased by Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock advisor John Ferguson. The bay filly was consigned by Gainesway, agent for Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings.

Despite the final results, buyers and consignors were not surprised with the session totals based on the results of previous yearling auctions this year.

“I don’t think it is a bad sale, but the sellers need to be realistic because I don’t think there is a lot of extra money,” said Duncan Taylor of Taylor Made Sales Agency. “I think it has been tight, it has not been real easy, but it is not a disaster by any means. Coming in, I thought it would be down 10%-20% overall.

Taylor said he did not believe the catalog of horses were to blame for the session’s declines. “I don’t think it is the horses. I think there are some great horses here, it is the top end,” he said. “When $3 million is the top end that has a lot to do with the rest of the market because when somebody buys a horse for $5 -$10 million a lot of that money re-circulates into the market, and when there are a lot of horses going for over $1 million that money comes back into the market. If you take some of those out it causes a change in the market.”

Overbook Farm adviser Ric Waldman defined the sale as a “defensive market.”

“The market, just by the appearance to me, appears to be stronger for fillies than for colts because fillies represent a safe haven for yearling buyers much more so than colts do,” said Waldman. “In a stronger market, there would be more aggressive bidding for colts than there seems to be. What we lack are the breakaway horses, the breakaway colts.”

While some buyers were lamenting the lack of breakout yearlings, other buyers were pleased that they were able to purchase the yearlings they wanted for what they called fair prices.

“We have bought five horses—four fillies and a colt-- relatively within the price range that we wanted to spend,” said Jack Wolf of Starlight Stables. “We averaged $250,000 for the five and being book one with the pedigrees that we got we are real happy.”

Southern Equine Stables Eric Guillot said he had two horses on his short list for the day—one did not vet and the other sold for more than he had budgeted.

“For the first time I am staying past the first three or four days and staying until day 12 to try and find the middle,” Guillot said. “From a financial standpoint, I am going to try and beat up on the average, the guys that can only go to $150,000 I will go to $250,000. I am going to be very selective in the first three or four days.”

The second session of the sale, which continues through Sept. 23, will begin at 10 a.m. Sept. 9.