Russell Hoping For Steady Market At Keeneland Juvenile Sale

Geoffrey Russell is hoping that the market "stays steady" at Keeneland's April juvenile auction on Tuesday in Central Kentucky.

"I would like the median to go up," said Russell, who serves as Keeneland's director of sales. "But if our average remains the same I will be very happy."

One year ago, sale records were established for average ($163,714) and median ($125,000). But the buy-back rate inched up to an all-time high (37.7%) for the auction, and the number sold plunged to an all-time low (91). The gross revenue of $14,898,000 represented a 19.5% decline from 2001.

For this year's sale, there already has been one good omen--an under tack show on April 8 that produced a slew of fast times. A Touch Gold filly worked three furlongs in an eye-popping :32 4/5, and a Grand Slam filly zipped a quarter in :20 4/5. Both, according to Russell, are probably workout records for the auction.

While cynics might point out that the clockings were boosted by a gusting tailwind and a lightning-fast track., Russell believes the swift times were influenced more by the high quality of the horses in Keeneland's catalogue.

"When our vets (on the inspection team) came back from doing the Florida trip and after we all did the East Coast together, we felt like the horses that we had gotten for the sale were of much better quality when we compared them to last year's horses," Russell said. "So, we weren't surprised with how well they breezed. So far, we've had a very good response the buyers who have looked at the horses. They seem to like what they see. Hopefully, the new depreciation that the government has brought forward will help. Basically, you can now accelerate the depreciation on a racehorse. It's not much help for a pinhooker, obviously, but the end user in the 2-year-old auction business can depreciate a horse much faster than he's ever been able to depreciate a horse before."

The sale will begin Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. (EDT).