Keeneland Sale Analysis: Strength at the Top

In contrast to this year's yearling auctions, the record-setting first day of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale Nov. 5 was fueled by strength at the top, with moderate weakness in the middle.

Overall, there were very few holes in this market that is being propped up by strong international demand, the strength of foreign currencies against the dollar, and, in the case of the Keeneland sale, dispersals or reductions in stock from several internationally successful breeders.

Obviously, if the sale is stronger in the top price ranges, there are likely to be few complaints among consignors that the sale is weak in the middle.

With a single-session record 28 horses bringing final bids in excess of seven figures, the number of horses sold for $2 million or more increased from five in 2006 to nine this year. This group was topped by the world-record price of $10.5 million paid for Playful Act from the Swettenham Stud dispersal handled by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency.

At the $1.5- to $2-million level, there was a 125% increase, from four sold last year to nine this year. Horses sold between $1- to $1.5-million increased to 10, from eight in 2006.

With so many horses selling above the $1 million level, there had to be some decline at the price levels in the middle of the market. Consequently, there were declines of 25% and 33.3%, respectively, in number of horses sold for $800,000-$899,999 and $900,000-$999,999. Although the number of horses sold for $700,000-$799,999 soared from three in 2006 to eight this year, there was a 75% decline from eight to two within the $600,000-$699,999 price range.

Continuing down the price ladder, the number of horses sold for prices between $500,000-$500,999 doubled from eight to 16 this year. Also, there was an increase from 11 to 15 horses sold for prices between $400,000 and $499,999.

There was, however, a 36% drop in sales in the $300,000-$399,999 range, from 25 in 2006 to 16 Monday. In the broader price category of $100,000-$299,999, there were 64 horses sold in 2006, compared with 73 this year.

Finally, the $50,000-$99,999 price range produced a 100% gain from 13 to 26. At the very bottom, there were five horses bringing prices between $0-$49,999, compared with three such horses last year.

With such a solid sale session from bottom to top, it will be hard for Keeneland to top its act during the  second session Nov. 6.

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