Even though there are still six days remaining, the Keeneland November breeding stock sale already has established an auction record for gross revenue. The total soared to $321,774,400 Tuesday in Lexington during the ninth of the sale's 15 sessions, surpassing the former mark of $317,666,000 that had been set in 1999. The figure is 2.5% ahead of the $313,843,800 gross for the entire November auction last year and 7.8% above the total of $298,422,400 following the ninth session in 2006.
The speed at which the record was achieved didn't shock Keeneland officials, who had been anticipating the shattering of the mark since early during the auction's first week.
"After day two of the sale was over, we would have been surprised if we hadn't had a record gross," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. At that point, the total represented more than half of 1999's gross.
The other key business figures so far this year are 2,141 lots sold, an average price of $150,292, and a median of $65,000. Compared to 2006, the number sold is down 1.3% from 2,169, but the average is up 9.2% from $137,585. The median is the same.
This year's buy-back rate of 22.6% is down from 2006's rate of 23.1%.
"Business at the moment is very good," Russell said. "There is a lot of domestic money still here, and some new faces are appearing. There also still is a strong international contingent, with South Africans and people from the Caribbean, Korea, and Central America. There's no mistake that the strength of foreign currencies against the U.S. dollar has had huge effect on our September (yearling) and November sales."
The top-priced horse Tuesday, the $250,000 Go Swiftly, was part of a consignment of stallion prospects and racehorses from Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt's WinStar Farm. The Kentucky operation started offering a portion of its racing age stock several years ago during the November sale's second week, and it has become an annual event. Graduates of the farm's November selling program include Will He Shine, winner of this year's True North Handicap (gr. II) after being sold for $290,000 in 2005, and Spring At Last, who became a group II winner in Dubai after being sold for $675,000 last year.
"It has worked very well for the sale and also for WinStar," Russell said.
Former trainer Allen Iwinski signed the sale ticket for the partnership that purchased Go Swiftly, a 2-year-old son of Gone West that has two runner-up finishes in three career races. His seconds came in a seven-furlong event at Keeneland in October and a mile race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.
Go Swiftly is a half-brother to Paiota Falls, who captured the 2004 La Lorgnette Stakes at Woodbine in Canada. Their 12-year-old unraced dam, Dance Swiftly (by Danzig), is a full sister to Canadian Horse of the Year, Broodmare of the Year, and Triple Crown winner Dance Smartly, who also was North America's champion 3-year-old filly in 1991. Dance Swiftly also is a half-sister to 1996 Philip H. Iselin Handicap (gr. I) winner Smart Strike, who is this year's leading North American sire by progeny earnings.
The second-highest-priced horse sold Tuesday was a 4-year-old winning daughter of Smart Strike named Full Flavor, who is in foal to Wando. L'Omarins purchased her for $150,000 from William S. Farish's Lane's End, agent.
Full Flavor is a half-sister to Knockadoon, winner of the 1996 Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland and to Play the Corners, an added-money winner in Canada and this country. Their winning dam, Double Smooth (by Overskate), finished second in the 1984 Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. IIIT) and third in the 1985 Mantua Stakes on grass.
The third-highest-priced horse sold Tuesday was a $140,000 weanling Indian Charlie colt that is the second reported foal out of the 7-year-old winning Hennessy mare Cheri Chardoneigh. Ben Glass, agent, purchased the bay weanling from Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Lyster's Ashview Farm, agent. Cheri Chardoneigh is a half-sister to Canadian grade III winner Fifth Overture and to two other added-money winners Lake Music and Gold From the West. Lake Music also is a stakes producer.
The 268 horses sold Tuesday grossed $8,200,300 and averaged $30,598. Their median was $22,500. The number sold was up 8.1% from last year's comparable figure of 248 while the gross was up 7.7% from $7,615,000. The median increased 2.3% from $22,000, and the average was down less than 1% from $30,706.
The figures reported in this story include a $150,000 lifetime stallion breeding right that sold during the second session this year and a $45,000 stallion season that sold in the second session last year.
The Keeneland breeding stock sale runs through Nov. 19, with selling beginning at 10 a.m. (EST) each day.