The gross revenue and average price fell for the second day in a row at Keeneland's January horses of all ages sale in Lexington. But median price posted a 25.0% increase from a year ago during Thursday's fourth of the auction's seven sessions.
"If you're going to come up here (to the sale ring) and you truly want to sell, you have to be very realistic about your reserve and not get cute and not get greedy," said Bayne Welker of Mill Ridge Sales. "It feels workmanlike; you have to work to get it done."
Keeneland reported that 239 horses were sold for a gross of $6,725,800, an average of $28,141, and a median of $20,000. Compared to a 2007, the number sold declined 3.2% from 247, and the gross fell 26.9% from $9,203,500. The average was down 24.5% from $37,261. The buy-back rate increased slightly, from 20.1% last year to 21.6% this year. The 2007 median was $16,000.
The session topper brought only $260,000 compared to $1.5 million last year, and that development was a major factor in Thursday's setbacks.
"In this session last year, we had a $1.5-million horse (Downthedustyroad) and a $500,000 horse (A P Easy); there's $2 million right there, so we didn't think we could get to the gross this year because of that," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland director of sales. "But I thought horse for horse it went very well today, and the not sold rate was at an acceptable level. The quality yearlings were very well received, and the bidding was spirited on them."
The sharp increase in the median, Russell explained, "was due to the $1.5-million horse and $500,000 horse being taken off the top, and the top price dropping all the way the way down to $260,000."
The figures for the auction's first four sessions combined were up 3.1% in gross and 11.6% in average from 2007. The median was the same at $30,000, and the number sold was down 7.6%. This year, the 906 horses sold grossed $62,912,300 and averaged $69,440. In 2007, the 980 horses sold grossed $60,995,500 and averaged $62,240. The buyback rate was 20.5% last year, compared to 24.6% this year.
Thursday's session-topping, $260,000 horse was Yes She Is, a 3-year-old unraced daughter of Seeking the Goldout of the 1998 Ashland Stakes (gr. I) winner Well Chosen. Jim Stone of Stoneway Farm in Kentucky purchased the chestnut filly, which was bred by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley operation and was offered as a broodmare prospect.
"We loved her conformation and her family; there's not much not to like about her," said Stone, who also is in the trucking business. "We're a small operation, with about 15 broodmares and 10 horses in our racing stable. We're just trying to upgrade, trying to do what everybody else is doing. We didn't want to spend that much money. We thought about half of that was fair, but that's the kind of sale it is. Everybody is on the same ones."
Brookdale Sales, agent, consigned Yes She Is.
Vague Notion, a 4-year-old winning daughter of Grand Lodge, brought Thursday's second-highest price of $165,000. Consigned by James Keogh/Grovendale, agent, as a broodmare prospect, the chestnut filly was purchased by Green Garden Stable.
Produced from the Irish stakes winner Epicure's Garden (by Affirmed), Vague Notion is a half-sister to Irish champion and stakes producer Lisieux Rose (by Generous). Other family members include North American champion Talking Picture and two of her offspring that were Irish champions sired by Affirmed: Easy to Copy and Trusted Partner.
A bay colt by Tapit, whose first 2-year-olds race this year, was the highest-priced yearling sold, bringing $145,000 from Stepping Stone Bloodstock. The bay colt is the first foal out of the 5-year-old unraced Broad Brush mare Ryvnine, who is a full sister to grade I winner Concern and grade III winner Tennis Lady. Will Farish's Lane's End, agent, consigned the yearling.
The January auction continues Friday, with selling beginning at 10 a.m. (EST).