Storm Cat colt, sold for $2.5 million at Keeneland's second sale session.

Storm Cat colt, sold for $2.5 million at Keeneland's second sale session.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Yearling Market Price Correction Continues at Keeneland's Second Session

Price correction within the yearling marketplace continued Tuesday as the gross and average prices fell during the second session of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

The sales company reported 182 horses were sold for a gross of $50,145,000. The average price of $275,521 represented a 28.6% decline from the $385,721 average in 2001 when 197 yearlings grossed $75,987,000. This year's buyback rate was 30%, compared with 25.4% of the horses not attaining their reserve prices at the comparable session one year ago. The second session median price was $175,000; the figure was $185,000 in 2001.

For the first two days--the unofficial select sessions--377 yearlings grossed $100,451,000 this year, compared with 353 horses grossing $136,318,000 during the first two days last year. This year's two-day average was $266,780, compared with $386,170 in 2001. The two-day median was $170,000 this year, compared with $210,000 in 2001.

Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's sales director, said the results are indicative of a market correction after a decade of increases.

"We had 10 glorious years," Russell said. "Historically, the Thoroughbred market has gone up for 10 years and then gone down. Every market this year has been down a third and we are continuing that."

Russell said he was disappointed that the buyback rate was up Tuesday but was buoyed by the fact that the median was closer to the same session median one year ago.

Top price Tuesday of $2.5 million was paid by Irish agent Demi O'Byrne for a Storm Cat colt. Acting on behalf of the Coolmore interests of John Magnier and Michael Tabor, O'Byrne outbid Canadian pharmaceutical company executive Eugene Melnyk for the colt.

Consigned by Lane's End, the colt was produced from the grade I-winning millionaire mare Clear Mandate (by Deputy Minister).

"He is a very nice horse," O'Byrne said, noting that Magnier and Tabor bought Newfoundland, the colt's full brother, for $3.3 million last year. "I figured he would go for $2- to $3-million."

Breeder G. Watts Humphrey said he would like to have gotten more for the colt sold Tuesday but noted the final price reflected the current state of the equine sales market.

Just before the Storm Cat colt went through the ring, O'Byrne paid $1.5 million for a Danzig colt produced from Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I) winner Catchascatchcan. "I saw his dam run in England and she was very good," O'Byrne said. "He is a very nice first foal. I was prepared to go higher (to acquire the Danzig colt)."

Also selling for $1.5 million early in the session was an A. P. Indy colt bought by John Ferguson on behalf of the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing.

Consigned by Lane's End, the colt was produced from the Woodman champion filly Bosra Sham.

"He was a lovely, quality horse," Ferguson said. "We have had a little luck with A. P. Indy."

As the session progressed, Ferguson paid $1.6 million for a Dixieland Band--Hidden Garden colt consigned by Lane's End. The colt is a full brother to multiple grade III winner Jazz Club. Earlier, Ferguson had the successful bid of $1-million for a Storm Cat colt from the Eaton Sales consignment. The colt is a full brother to multiple grade I winner and millionaire High Yield. Another seven-figure purchase by Ferguson was a Seeking the Gold--Mackie colt bought from the Indian Creek consignment for $1-million.

Two colts from the Hill 'n; Dale Sales Agency consignment were sold for seven figures. Live Oak Plantation went to $1,450,000 for a Gone West--Daijin filly and late in the day a Pulpit--Marshesseaux colt was purchased by Kazuko Yoshida for $1,400,000.

Despite the continued downward spiral in yearling prices that began with the elite summer sales and continued at Monday's first Keeneland session, buyers and sellers were not chagrined by the numbers. Rather, most concurred about the prices reflect an overdue market correction spurred by the downturn in economic conditions worldwide.

"I think there is an inevitable readjustment in the market which is purely reflective of the world economy," Ferguson said. "There are readjustments at the upper echelon. But there looked to be a very acceptable number of horses in the $100,000-$200,000 range that looked to be good values. If a buyer was looking for a good horse, they could find it in that range. There are a lot of good horses here."

Dan Rosenberg, general manager of Three Chimneys Farm, among the leading consignors, concurred.

"Considering the economy and its effect on the Thoroughbred market, I think it was a solid sale," Rosenberg said the two-day unofficial select sessions. I think the market is affected by economic conditions. All markets fluctuate. This industry is very much driven by disposable income and in a falling economy there is less disposable income. I think the reality of the market is that buyers are here to buy horses, and not only is the sky not falling but the bottom is not falling out of the market."

With the exception of a dark day this Friday, the sale continues through Sunday, Sept. 22.

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