Keeneland Train Rolls On

Tuesday's eighth session of the Keeneland September sale brought the auction house past the halfway point of its 14-day yearling showcase. Buttressed by continued high buyer demand, market strength was again on display with increases in all categories when compared to the same session last year.

The key statistics for the eighth session were:

--283 horses sold for a gross of $12,917,500, up 10.5% over the same session last year when 276 grossed $11,686,700.
--The average price of $45,645 represented a 7.8% increase over the $42,343 in 2004.
--The median increased 23.3% to $37,000 from $30,000.
--The 72 yearlings not sold represented a RNA (reserve not attained) rate of 20.3%, down 15.4% from the 87 bought back a year ago.

"What you're seeing is trickle down economics," said bloodstock agent Jim Cullen. "There are a boat load of people here who still have big orders to fill. Horses we evaluated at $50-70,000 are going for $90-100,000. A lot of people waited for this sale."

"The crop this year was very strong," offered Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, as one reason for the record-setting run. "Today we were seeing the rollover effect of books one, two, and even three. The last four days (books three and four)--which we consider the middle market--have done very well. This is where some people had concerns coming into the sale.

"It is important to stress that the median is up (23.3%), and that's a very good sign," said Russell. "This means there's more money here and it's getting spread around."

The session's topper, a bay or brown filly by Mr. Greeley, brought $350,000 from Blandford Bloodstock's Richard Brown, agent for Ahmed Zayat. Out of the Summer Squall mare Heat Lightening, the filly is a half-sister to recent Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) winner and son of Stephen Got Even, Stevie Wonderboy.

"The client and I worked on this one together," said Brown, who spotted the filly for the first time in the barn area on Monday and looked at her several times before he signed the ticket. "We liked her on the page, of course, but she's also just a gorgeous filly--really the standout of the day. She also has a big catalogue update with Stevie Wonderboy."

The 12-year-old Heat Lightning has six other registered foals. Of her six offspring to reach racing age, four have found the winner's circle. In addition to Stevie Wonderboy, Heat Lightning has also produced the gelding Game Called, by Miswaki, and the mare Summer Flash, by Belong to Me, both winners in 2005.

With 2,932 of the 5,110 total head catalogued now accounted for, the cumulative figures through eight sessions are:

--2,058 horses have sold, up 3.5% from last year when 1,988 head were purchased.
--The gross of $352,576,500 is up 18.5% over the $297,416,400 at the same point one year ago.
--The average price of $171,320 represents a gain of 14.5% over the $149,606 average in 2004.
--The median price of $80,000 is up 6.7% from $75,000 last year.
--The cumulative RNA rate is 22.8% for the 608 horses not sold, down 5.8% from last year's rate of 24.2% representing the 636 not sold to this point in 2004.

The sale continues at 10 a.m. daily through Monday, Sept. 26.

Hip-by-hip results from Keeneland