The weather was gloomy Sunday at Keeneland in Lexington, but the spirits of consignors were bright one day prior to the start of the January horses of all ages auction.
"We're really excited," said Mark Toothaker of Legacy Bloodstock. "The mares in the (Keeneland) November breeding stock sale were extremely expensive, and we're looking for that to carry over. We're hoping that the short yearlings here really turn the corner and that it's a little better this year than November was for weanlings. We thought November was a little light on the foals, but we’re hoping people will have a renewed interest in young horses at this sale."
While the stock in January typically is less glamorous than in November, buyers seem to be eager to shop, according to Toothaker.
"We've been extremely happy with the traffic; it has matched every bit of November for us," he said. "We've had a lot of interest in what we’ve got and we're real hopeful that those folks who got shut out in November will open their check books and be ready to roll."
Bill Farish of Lane's End also was upbeat.
"All the signs are positive in all the other breeding stock sales, so the quality stuff is going to do well," he said.
However, some buyers expressed disappointment about the number of horses they were interested in that had been scratched. The catalog listed 2,547 lots but as of Sunday afternoon, Keeneland reported that 420 were out, among them an Empire Maker yearling filly out of grade I winner Versailles Treaty and grade I-winning mares Miss Shop and Swap Fliparoo.
"It's nothing unusual," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. When they (consignors) X-ray them (the horses) and find problems, they take them out; they have a good November sale, so they take them out; they sell them privately and they take them out."
The January auction will have seven sessions, with selling beginning each day at 10 a.m. (EST).