Anne M. Eberhardt

Select Sessions' Analysis: Weakness at the Top

Despite large declines in gross sales and average price, there were some positive signs indicated during the two select sessions of the Keeneland September yearling sale.

Lacking a super breakout horse, the first two days of the Keeneland September Yearling sale ended with large declines in gross sales and average price.

Despite those declines, which were not totally unexpected, the sales company and the consignors who sold horses on behalf of their clients during the so-called select portion of the marathon fall yearling sale were no doubt pleased with some aspects of the auction.

The first positive sign was that the median price of $300,000 – the level and which half the prices are higher and half are lower – was identical to the figure for the record-setting 2006 sale. The overall median was helped immensely by an increase during the second session from $300,000 last year to $332,500 this year.

Although the buyback rate for the two days was down only slightly to 24.4% from 25.7% from 2006, it was obvious breeders and pinhookers brought their horses to Keeneland with realistic reserves and a desire to sell. Indeed, some of the major agents have very high turnover rates. For example, Gainesway sold 11 of 12 offered, with similar results experienced by Denali (9 of 10) and Hill ‘n’ Dale (15 of 16).

Analysis of where the strengths and weaknesses were within the marketplace show the number of horses sold at the lowest price range of $0-$99,999 doubled this year during the first two sessions, from 17 to 34. In the next range of $100,000-$299,999, there were 116 yearlings sold this year, compared with 130 in 2006. Some of the largest shifts in price range purchases during the select sessions were experienced at the levels considered to be the upper middle market and the levels just below the top.

In the $600,000-$799,999 price range, there were 33 horses sold this year, compared with only 19 in 2006. Also, there were only five yearlings sold this year in the $800,000-$999,999 price range, compared with 10 such transactions last year. And at the $1,000,000-$1,999,999 level, there were 24 horses sold in 2007, versus 16 in 2006.

But perhaps the statistic that had the greatest impact on the average and gross this year was the six yearlings selling for more than $4 million in 2006, compared with none this year at the top.

As was the case during the first session, Dynaformer emerged as the leading sire for the select sessions, with five yearlings averaging $1 million.  However, Lane’s End stallion A.P. Indy again showed his dominance, especially considering his average price of $893,409 for 22 sold during the first two sessions. A.P. Indy’s influence during the Tuesday session was indicated by five of his yearlings being among the top 15 sold and he was the broodmare sire of the top-priced yearling, an Unbridled's Song colt out of Secret Status purchased by Demi O’Byrne for $3.7 million.

Taylor Made Sales Agency narrowly edged Lane’s End for honors as top consignor by gross, with $28,885,000 compared to $28,080,000.

Lane’s End’s average, however, of $825,882 for the 34 sold was well above Taylor Made’s consignment average of $395,685 for 78 sold.