Russell Hopes for More Consistent Market at Keeneland Juvenile Auction

Keeneland's April sale of 2-year-olds in training enjoyed a record-setting run last year with all-time highs for gross revenue, average price, median price, and top individual price for a horse of $3.3 million. But not every record was cause for celebration. The buy-back rate soared to 44.8%, indicating there were a lot of horses that shoppers didn't want.

During this year's edition of the auction, scheduled for Tuesday in Lexington, Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell said he would like to see the market "more consistent from top to bottom and not as polarized as we've seen at some of the other sales. Some of our graduates that were sold in the middle price range have done very well. We hope that buyers will be back to spend at that level again."

Keeneland's sale is the last major select auction of the juvenile selling season, which has produced mixed results. While some of last year's records have been surpassed, the business is not growing as fast as it did in 2004. Setbacks have included falling profits for pinhookers, who took greater risks financially.

But based on what he has seen so far on the Keeneland grounds, Russell is optimistic about his company's upcoming auction.

"The breeze show last Monday went extremely well," he said. "The times were very good, and they were very consistent. The comments from the buyers have been very positive; they like the stock. They (consignors) have been busy in the barns, and that is always a good sign."

The auction's second and final under tack show is scheduled for Monday, beginning at 10:30 a.m. (EDT). Selling starts Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. (EDT).