By Evan Hammonds and Deirdre B. Biles
Keeneland will catalog 4,059 horses for the 60th annual November breeding stock sale it was announced Friday. The number is up 12.8% from a year ago when 3,597 were listed. The sale will run for 12 days, Nov. 2-13, two days longer than in 2002.
"It's back to the norm," said Keeneland's director of sales Geoffrey Russell.
The upswing followed a 12.6% decline last year from the 2001 total of 4,116 losts. Keeneland officials blamed the downturn on mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS). The number of weanlings in that auction fell 29% from the previous year.
The main effect of MRLS this year, according to Russell, is that it caused cash flow problems that probably encouraged some breeders to sell more weanlings and broodmares. Those breeders had less income because they had fewer yearlings to sell.
The sale's opening day will feature a dispersal of the breeding stock belonging to William C. Schettine and a consignment from Joanne Nor's Norfields Farm. Paramount Sales is representing Schettine while Taylor Made Sales Agency is representing Norfields.
Schettine's dispersal of 58 broodmares and weanlings includes Felicita, dam of multiple grade I winner Take Charge Lady who won Keeneland's Ashland, Overbrook Spinster Stakes (both gr. I) and the Walmac International Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II).
Schettine's dispersal is not a complete one, according to Adam Staple, stallion coordinator for Schettine's Signature Stallions near Ocala, Fla.
"He's keeping his horses in training, and his stallions," Staple said. "He's just parting with his broodmares and foals."
Schettine owns three of the seven stallions standing at Signature, the former DunHill Farm that he purchased earlier this year. Staple said Schettine currently has 10-12 horses in training and a few lay ups.
The November sale has 2,163 broodmares, 242 broodmare prospects, 1,588 weanlings and 66 horses of various other ages and types. Last year's sale cataloged 1,951 broodmares, 146 broodmare prospects, 1,339 weanlings, and 161 horses of other types for a total of 3,597 horses.
Last year's total gross was $187,230,000, which was up 4.3% from 2001. The 1,411 broodmares that were reported as sold grossed $136,733,800 for an average of $96,906. The 864 weanlings that were reported as sold grossed $42,769,300 for an average of $49,502.
Last year's broodmare average was up from 2001's average of $93,459, but off the record $127,067 recorded in 2000. The weanling sector, which marked the first year since 1993 that less than 1,000 were sold, was up from the $43,244 mark in 2001 but off the 1999 record average of $61,634.
Last year's sale was boosted by ClassicStar and Newsells Park Stud who combined spent more than $32 million on 50 horses.
Sessions for this year's auction begin at 10 a.m. (EST) each day except on Nov. 2, when the sale will begin at 1:30 p.m. (EST).