Anne M. Eberhardt

Keeneland January Mixed Sale Starts Monday

The first major Thoroughbred auction of the New Year kicks off Monday in Central Kentucky when the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale launches its six-day run. Sessions begin each morning at 10:00 (EST).

There won't be the fireworks of the November breeding stock sale, but Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, is optimistic because horsemen still seem eager to buy.

"Many people didn't get what they wanted in November, and there is a lot of interest," he said. "The number of catalogue requests is very healthy, and they've come from all over, internationally as well as domestically."

Among the choice lots are the 7-year-old French stakes winner Kentucky Rose, who is in foal to Storm CatZ; Native Roots, the dam of Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner and Eclipse Award finalist Wilko; Cahooters, the dam of grade I winner Buddha, and Buddha's yearling full sister by Unbridled's Song. Native Roots is in foal to Street Cry.

"We have a solid catalogue all the way through, but we don't have a major dispersal (that would spice up the bidding action)," Russell said.

Even though the Keeneland horses of all ages sale comes at the beginning of the year, many regard the auction as the end of the previous year's sale cycle. Often its results reflect the previous year's trends, which in 2004 were upbeat.

Last year, 1,258 horses were sold at Keeneland in January for a gross of $49,344,900, an average price of $39,225, and a median price of $13,000. Compared to 2003, the number sold and gross rose 6.2% and 58.2%, respectively. The average and median soared 49% and 30%, respectively. A number of sale participants described the results as "unbelievable," according to Russell.