Yearling being prepared to sell at Keeneland.

Yearling being prepared to sell at Keeneland.

Anne M. Eberhardt

At Mid-Point, Keeneland Sale Surpasses 2003 Total

When S. G. Corp. bought a Songandaprayer filly from Eaton Sales for $40,000 at Monday's session of the Keeneland September yearling sale, it marked the mid-point of the marathon 14-day auction that concludes Sept. 27.

By the end of the session, Keeneland's gross of $285,579,700 through seven days of selling surpassed the total receipts of $274,125,300 for all 12 sessions in 2003 and was already the second-highest in sale history. This year's gross so far is less than $7 million short of the record $291,827,100 set in 2000 when 3,313 horses were reported sold.

The cumulative average price of $166,908 for the 1,711 horses sold through Monday was well ahead of the 2003 sale when 1,690 horses had averaged $146,610 from gross receipts of $247,770,500 for seven sessions. The cumulative median this year is $90,000, compared with $75,000 at the same point last year, and the RNA rate is 24.9% as 549 horses have not attained their reserve prices.

During Tuesday's session, 283 horses sold for a total of $14,169,700, up 15.2% over the gross of $12,305,000 in 2003 when 285 horses changed hands. The average of $50,070 represented a 16% improvement over the session average of $43,175 last year and the median rose 40% to $42,000. The 88 horses that did not sell Monday represented 23.7% of the total through the ring, compared with a buyback rate of 21.1% for the same session last year.

"The middle market has broadened and now the strength is in the middle market," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "We are now seeing more buyers from South America, and the Europeans are still here. The American buyers continue to buy, as they have been consistent all the way through.

Monday's top price of $190,000 was paid by John McCormack Bloodstock for a dark bay or brown filly by Arch consigned by Claiborne Farm, as agent. The filly was produced from grade II-placed Kalocsa, by Kaldoun.

Although Monday's session lacked some of the sizzle shown last week when most of the sessions were topped by horses bringing in excess of seven figures, there was a good crowd on hand and buyers reported stiff competition for the better offerings.

"It's tough," said trainer Bob Baffert, noting that pinhookers were having an influence on the strength of the sale. "The pinhookers have a lot of money. When anything that is going to bring a big price comes in (to the sales ring), they get together and form a syndicate to buy it."

Consignors also were pleased with the Monday results.

"I don't remember it being this strong this late (in the sale)," said Tom Van Meter, a partner in Eaton Sales. "And they are buying them regardless of what their vets (veterinarians) say."

"It's strong, there's no doubt about it," said consignor John Phillips, of Darby Dan Farm.

Results, leading buyer, leading consignor, leading sire lists from Keeneland