Anne M. Eberhardt

Keeneland January Sale Opens Monday

Foreign buyers expected to boost market at Keeneland January horses of all ages sale.

The calendar shows that it's a new year, but Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, isn't expecting a lot of change in the Thoroughbred marketplace from 2007 during the January horses of all ages sale that begins Monday in Lexington.

"I think it will be kind of a continuation of our November sale, with the market being buoyed by the weakness of the American dollar," he said. "We've already had a great response from overseas markets concerning the January sale. A lot of the faces you saw in November will be back again in January.”

Foreign shoppers boosted the November's results, helping that auction establish a sale record for gross revenue of $340,727,200 and equal the highest median price ever of $35,000. The average price of $100,807 was up slightly from the previous year even though the number of horses sold increased 7.4% to the second-highest-ever total of 3,380.

While the January sale's catalog lacks the glamour of the November auction's book, it does have some quality offerings. They include stakes winner Irish Cherry, the dam of grade I winners Spun Sugar and Daaher; Premium Red, the dam of Premium Tap, a grade I winner in this country and a group I winner in the Middle East; Lyphard Gal, the dam of grade I winner Heritage of Gold; and grade I winner November Snow, who is in foal to Mineshaft . Irish Cherry is in foal to Ghostzapper; Premium Red is carrying a foal by First Samurai; and Lyphard Gal is in foal to Suave.

Among the horses owned by the late Cynthia Phipps that will be dispersed through Claiborne Farm is grade I winner Versailles Treaty (in foal to Unbridled's Song), the dam of grade II winner and stallion Saarland. A  Ghostzapper yearling that is a half-sister to champion Action This Day is part of a dispersal of horses owned by Jaime Carrion that is being handled by Robert Courtney Sr. of Crestfield Farm and his family.

Also scheduled to be offered during the January sale is grade II winner Two Item Limit, who is in foal to Bernardini.

"I think it's a normal January catalog," Russell said. "We have some very nice high-profile mares, but this is predominantly a solid middle market sale. The jewels tend to stand out, which is why people put them in this sale."

The January auction will run through Jan. 13, with selling beginning at 10 a.m. each day.

"I think the participation of buyers from regional markets will be strong -- as it was last January -- because I don't think they were able to buy many horses in November," Russell said.

During the 2007 edition of the January auction, the number of horses sold and the gross set sale records of 1,858 and $72,698,200, respectively, but the average and median fell from 2006.