Katsumi Yoshida knew he had some outstanding yearlings in his Northern Farm consignment but even he was surprised when a French Deputy colt established a Japanese record during Monday’s session of the Japan Racing Horse Association select sale.
The muscular chestnut, who is a half brother to multiple group I winner Admire Moon, drew a bid of 250 million yen ($2,024,291) the highest price ever achieved for a yearling at a public auction in Japan, from Riichi Kondo, who campaigns Admire Moon.
Earlier in the afternoon, a Northern Farm-consigned colt by Dance in the Dark out of Japanese Horse of the Year Air Groove became the first to surpass the previous yearling record price of 205 million yen ($1,798,245), set last year by a son of Pivotal. Makoto Kaneko, who raced Japanese Triple Crown winner Deep Impact, bought the Dance in the Dark colt for 245 million yen ($1,983,805).
“It’s just amazing—astonishing. It’s more than I expected,” an obviously delighted Yoshida told a crowd of Japanese reporters after the session ended at the Northern Horse Park on the island of Hokkaido. “I’m very happy to see the yearling sale has come up to this level.”
He said the French Deputy colt is more solidly built than Admire Moon and suggested that a race like the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) would be a perfect target if the yearling develops into the same high-caliber runner as his half brother, who won the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) in March.
However, Yoshida candidly admitted that of the two top priced colts, he thought the son of Dance in the Dark would top the sale. That dark bay is a full brother to Thesunday Fusaichi, who set a record at the 2004 JRHA foal sale when he was sold to Fusao Sekiguchi for 490 million yen ($4,537,037) but who fractured a bone in his left hind leg after finishing third at Tokyo Racecourse last October in his only start. Thesunday Fusaichi is back in training and is expected to return to racing by next month.
“My assessment is the colt out of Air Groove is the very best,” Yoshida said of his yearling consignment while offering thanks to Kondo for his determination to buy the French Deputy colt. Kondo had drawn exclamations from the crowd as he aggressively raised the bidding to fend off rivals for Admire Moon’s half brother.
Yoshida also sold two other colts on Monday that each exceeded $1 million, with a son of Jungle Pocket acquired by JHS Ltd. for 170 million yen ($1,376,518) and a son of French Deputy’s champion son Kurofune bought by Rosehill Thoroughbred Management for 140 million yen ($1,133,603).
Japanese buyers and sellers traditionally have preferred to trade in foals rather than yearlings, but the JRHA, which will conduct foal sessions at the select sale on Tuesday and Wednesday, has been trying to encourage a yearling market in part to attract international buyers. Monday’s results could lead to an even stronger yearling catalog in 2008, Yoshida predicted.
“Next year it is likely the JRHA will receive more applications from smaller breeders who want to sell,” he said. “This is a market where the biggest number of wealthy buyers come together—there’s no other place like this in Japan—so we must understand that this is the best place to sell.”
Yet while there were other promising indicators from Monday’s session, only the third for yearlings in the JRHA’s ten-year history, overall gross of 3,284,400,000 yen and average of 30,411,111 yen were down 3.8% and 2.9%, respectively, from last year’s gross of 3,414,000,000 yen and average of 31,320,000 yen.
The buyback rate was 28.4% on 108 yearlings sold from 150 offered, an improvement from last year’s percentage of 33.9% when 109 yearlings were sold from 165 offered.
Northern Farm was the big winner of the day, with all of its 33 yearlings offered reported sold.
"It’s very fortunate for me,” Yoshida said. “And I am very happy that the overall buyback rate is less than 30%. All breeders, not just the Shadai Group (consisting of the farms owned by Yoshida and his two brothers) had horses sell well.”
Yoshida also has much to look forward to in the foal sessions of the sale. His consignment includes another half brother to Admire Moon, a gray colt born on Jan. 30 and sired by French Deputy’s champion son Kurofune.
Kaneko, flush with the cash from the Japanese record syndication last fall of Deep Impact for 5.1 billion yen ($42.7 million), bought five yearlings while Kondo signed tickets on three. Each is expected to be back at the next two sale sessions to bid on foals.
Both Kaneko and Kondo, who ducked interviews with the media during the yearling session, were honored and given gifts during a Sunday evening party hosted by the JRHA as the two leading buyers from the first nine years of the select sale.