As the Keeneland September yearling sale approached the end of its long run in Lexington, the comments from consignors and buyers were nearly all positive. Here's what they had to say:
Jody Huckabay, Elm Tree Farm: "If you bring a nice horse that looks like an athlete, X-rays, and scopes, it's the same deal as it was last year, they'll give you all the money. We've had a lot of lookers, and it's been really exciting. We’ve sold several to European buyers this year which is a little unusual for us.
"Racing is healthy. At the $50,000 to $150,000 level (for a yearling), if you get lucky and get a racehorse, you can make money. It's simple economics."
Rollin Baugh, California bloodstock agent: "It's a good, healthy, deep market. You can't sell a goat, but if you have a nice horse, it's not missed by anybody. I think the sale has been wonderful."
J.B. McKathan, Florida horseman and pinhooker: "The first book took a big hit. But consistently, the market has been about the same as last year since book one. The rest of the sale is reality, and even though everybody was worried about reality changing, it hasn't. It’s still really hard to buy a nice horse."
Joe Seitz, Brookdale Sales: "It’s going great. Anything that is reasonably well conformed that has a halfway decent pedigree by a recognizable sire or a first-year sire is selling really well. Action at the barn has been terrific. The reports before the sale were that overproduction was starting to happen and the stock market was going to affect us, but that hasn't been the case."
Frank Penn, Penn Sales: "It's pretty strong for a good horse. Every good horse I've seen here sells pretty well. The level of the horse is a little bit different (during the sale's second week), but the demand still seems to be here. A lot of buyers are getting shut out."
Justin Casse, Florida pinhooker and sales agent: "The market is stronger than I thought it would be. The oversupply thing hasn't kicked in yet. I see pinhookers everywhere — you can't dodge them; they're at every sale — and I've seen a couple of new faces. It seems like there are more end users buying horses than I would have expected. I think a lot of people don't bother going to other yearlings sales because they know they can come here and there are 5,500 horses. They know they'll find at least a couple they like."
Lynne Martin-Boutte, Florida pinhooker: "We're aggressively trying to buy horses and even giving a little bit on some of the vet issues and still not getting them. I think the market is solid for the right horse."
Richard Kent, Florida horseman: "We've been selling in the middle market, and it's been fabulous. If you lead a horse up to the back walking ring and you've got a fairly clean set of X-rays, things will be fine. There is a large body of people who are buying to race or resell, and they’re all in that $50,000 to $250,000 range. Maybe there are greater opportunities for people racing horses in that price range to break even or to show a profit."
Jimmy Gladwell, Florida horseman and pinhooker: "The middle market is strong. Playing at the top end of the market was not the best idea for pinhookers last year, so I think you're seeing a lot of people trying to get back into the safe range of $60,000 to $160,000 and that gives you pretty good competition for those horses."
Kitty Taylor, Warrendale Sales: "It's been great. In all the books, my clients have told me, 'You've got to be realistic about your reserves.' We've set low reserves, and we’ve gone past them pretty rapidly."
Sue McPeek, wife of trainer Kenny McPeek: "It’s going well. There are still good horses out here. This is kind of an interesting time in the sale (the second week) because there are good horses to be found here as long as we're thorough. We’re always looking out for our owners and trying to find good horses for value that they have a chance to actually make money with is a challenge that we enjoy."
Beau Lane, consignor: "I've seen a good mixture of buyers. The pinhookers are all here, and they’re all active. I see people who are racing in Ohio, people who are racing in New York and New Mexico, all sorts of racing people, which I love. I sell most of my horses to racing people. The market is strong because purse structures are strong. There are a lot of good places to race, and there is a lot of good money out there."
Tommy Eastham, Legacy Bloodstock: "There's a buyer for just about every good horse. There are holes in the sale where horses don’t sell well, but any horse that vets good and is pretty correct, people want them. There's not any what I would call silly money or stuff that really surprises you, but it’s good, honest, fair money. The European folks are really coming on strong, and they've helped us out with our market."
Bud Greeley, Wintergreen Farm: "The sale is a little tight. The buyers are selective, and it's not an easy market. If you've got a nice horse, you'll probably sell it well, but there are a lot of nice horses that are falling through the cracks. It's supply and demand; you need more buyers."
Don Robinson, Winter Quarter Farm: "I've had a stellar sale. We had a very few horses that we selected carefully that we came over here with. If it wasn't what we thought was a sales horse, we didn't bring it over. I think that has served us well. I'm so happy that the middle market has stayed good because that's what keeps us all in business. That's what was so encouraging. I figured the first part of the sale would be good and the second week it would get really flattened out, but I was wrong. I still think we’re breeding too many horses and that the stud fees are too steep. It will be like the housing market; it will catch up with us."
Tony Granitz, Illinois trainer: "The sale seems pretty fair. Horses are bringing decent money. The middle market is so strong, and Americans are so strong buying right now. With the purses and new tracks opening, everyone is looking for the right horse to buy and resell."
Rudy Delguidice, Excel Bloodstock: "It's really, really hard to buy. You're back here (in the walking ring) and it looks a little light, but when you go into the sale pavilion, everybody jumps on the horse you want. When you think one's going to slip by, no, it doesn’t slip by."