September Sale Preview (Cont.)

Pinhookers, however, aren't under nearly as much financial pressure. The average price for weanlings and short yearlings pinhooked to the September select sessions has fallen by 18.2%, from $192,340 to $157,284. The average price for the full sale's pinhooked horses has dropped by 18.9%, from $52,374 to $42,485. Pinhookers also have consigned significantly fewer horses--429 compared to 579 in 2001.

As usual, some yearlings that passed through the auction ring at the Keeneland July select sale and are being offered again during the Keeneland September select sessions. There are no fewer than 34 horses in this group, a total that increased from 28 in 2001. In addition, no fewer than 37 yearlings that were withdrawn from the July sale before passing through the ring are scheduled to be offered in this year's September select sessions. That total is up sharply from 22 in 2001. At this year's Keeneland July sale, 27% of the horses catalogued were scratched--a figure that was unprecedented in the auction's history.

Another statistical factor that could influence the September sale's results are the 28 stallions with nine or more yearlings apiece from their first crops catalogued to the 2002 September sale. One year ago, a similar list contained 33. The number of stallions with inaugural fees of $20,000 or higher dropped from 14 in 2001 to eight this year, which was good news for commercial breeders getting tired of paying high prices to book their mares.

Last year's first crop stallion with the most expensive stud fee was Coronado's Quest, who stood for $60,000 and had 25 Keeneland September yearlings catalogued. This year, the peak is the $50,000 inaugural fee for Forestry, who has 44 offspring catalogued.

Taking all these statistics and trends into consideration, the odds are not in favor of significant price increases at a time when commercial breeders badly need upswings to generate profits off expensive stud fees. It might be a good thing that the number of yearlings catalogued to the September sale has dropped slightly from last year's total of 4,483 and the record high of 4,652 in 2000.