A handsome son of Johannesburg brought $1 million to top the Sept. 15 session of Keeneland’s September yearling sale as the session’s gross, average, and median all posted modest gains.
With only seven hips remaining until the close of the sale, J.J. Pletcher paid the session’s single seven-figure amount to purchase the Dromoland Farm-consigned colt for a racing partnership that includes owners Jim Scatuorchio and Michael Tabor. The second-highest purchase was a son of Distorted Humor for a distant $510,000.
“Mr. Tabor said to buy the horse,” Pletcher said when asked how high he’d been planning to bid. “He’s a really nice colt, but I never thought he’d bring that kind of money.”
The Kentucky-bred colt is out of the Quiet American mare American Jewel, who is a half-sister to Turko's Turn (by Turkoman), the dam of 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given . Pletcher said the colt may race in Ireland and, due to Johannesburg’s versatility, may be tried on the grass. Johannesburg is also the sire of retired multiple grade I winner Scat Daddy, who is owned by Scatuorchio, Tabor, and Derrick Smith.
“We love Scat Daddy, and this colt looks a lot like him, and everything about him is right,” said Pletcher, who was the session’s second leading buyer with purchases of $1,260,000 for three horses. Pletcher also purchased a son of More Than Ready for $170,000 and a colt by Chapel Royalfor $110,000.
California agent John Brocklebank went to $510,000 for the Distorted Humor colt, consigned by Legacy Bloodstock. The Kentucky-bred is out of the Meadowlake mare Field of Glory, a half-sister to grade II winner Randaroo.
Maverick Racing went to $500,000 for a Successful Appeal colt consigned by Peter O’Callaghan and Woods Edge Farm.
Agent Nick de Meric ended the day as the session's leading buyer, spending $1,465,000 for eight colts – sons of Yes It's True, Cozzene, Speightstown , Malibu Moon , Awesome Again , and More Than Ready. Taylor Made Sales Agency was the session's leading consignor, selling 46 horses for $6,377,000.
Keeneland reported 267 horses sold Sept. 15 for a gross of $31,980,700, compared with last year’s 294 head sold for $31,397,000, resulting in a 1.9% increase. The average was up 12.2% to $119,778,versus last year’s $106,793. The median was up 25%, from $80,000 to $100,000 this year. There were 95 RNAs.
"Today is book three, and we talked to our consignors about wanting a catalog that stressed strong conformation," said Geoffrey Russell, director of sales at Keeneland. "The buyers respected that, and the market reflects it."
Cumulative totals for the sale were down, however, and the number of horses sold dropped 3% from last year’s 1,156 to this year’s 1,121. The gross for the first five days – $275,271,200 – was down 9.5% from the $304,306,500 spent at the same point last year. The average of $245,559 dropped 6.7% from $263,241. Only the median posted gains from $150,000 to $160,000 this year.
In the past five days, 413 horses have been listed as RNAs, with a buy-back rate of $26.2%, versus last year’s 19.2%.
John Ferguson is the sale's leading buyer, having purchased 21 head for $17,780,000 in the past five days. Taylor Made Sales Agency is the leading consignor, with 158 horses sold for a total of $44,757,000.
The Keeneland sale resumes Sept. 16 at 10 a.m. with hip #1708.