Keeneland's Fourth Session Holds Its Own

The fourth session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale saw the prices of first three days come down slightly from the stratosphere. However the final figures show a market strength that continues to impress industry insiders.

When the final hammer dropped on Thursday, it concluded a day of business described by many present as more "realistic" or "conservative" than that of the sale's previous sessions.

A total of 59 horses did manage to bring six-figure bids, which lent the day some added credibility.

"There's still plenty of money here," said Eaton Sales' Tom VanMeter.

In all, 223 horses were sold for a gross of $18,758,000, an average of $84,117, and a median of $60,000. On the same day in 2003, 248 head sold for a gross of $20,863,000--a 10% decline--a virtually identical average of $84,125, and a slightly higher median of $65,000.

One hundred and six horses were listed as RNA for the session, making for a four-day buy-back total of 273. A total of 32.2% did not meet their reserve on the day for a 2004 sale cumulative buy-back rate of 23%.

Hip 1158, the chestnut filly Beautiful Treasure topped the session with a final bid of $600,000. A 2000 foal by Unbridled, Beautiful Treasure is out of the Crusader Sword mare Beautiful Moment, a stakes-placed winner at two.

Consigned to the sale by Craig Bandoroff's Denali Stud, agent for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis, Beautiful Treasure earned $65,025 in her race career with one win at two, placing in the 2002 Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park.

John and Martha Jane Mulholland were listed as purchasers of Beautiful Treasure who is believed to be in foal to 2002 champion sprinter Orientate on a last service of April 7.

Consigned by Knockgriffin Farm, Jim Fitzgerald, agent,
Hip 1287, a chestnut colt by Mr. Greeley out of the Raja Baba mare Hard Knocker topped the day for the weanling contingent. The March 12 foal sold to Eldon Farm Equine who went to $440,000 to get him.

So far through the four sessions of the Keeneland sale, 914 horses have been sold for $221,291,500. The average price this year stands at $242,113, and the median is $120,000.

After the first four days in 2003, 854 head sold for a gross of $186,404,000, an average of $218,272, and a median of $100,000. This year's gross to date is up 15.7% from the 2003 figures, the average is up 9.8%, and the median is up 20%.

Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell said the market was still rolling, but that the session constituted what he termed a "readjustment" for the marketplace.

"I think the consignors used today to readjust and hopefully we'll go on our merry way," said Russell.

"The RNA was up a little more than we had expected, and overall the day was a slight blip on the radar screen. The consignors got a little aggressive when they saw the prices from the first three days, and that could be the reason for the RNAs, but they'll find the right market.

"I think the middle market is going to be strong."

Session five, scheduled to open with Book 3 at hip #1397, will begin at the sales pavilion Friday morning at 10:00 a.m.