Keeneland's January horses of all ages sale overcame poor weather and the lack of a major dispersal to produce a market that was solid, if not explosive, and kept the positive momentum of the Thoroughbred breeding business going.
After four days, the January sale saw a total of 1,027 horses purchased for $41,025,700. That was down 9.3% from last year's total for five days, when 1,105 horses sold. The $39,947 average was just 2.4% lower than last year's $40,912. And the overall median shot up by 33.3%, rising from $15,000 to $20,000.
The buyback rate also improved dramatically, falling from last year's cumulative 25.2% to 19.6%.
The sale catalog was about 16% smaller than it was in 2013, trimming the sale from five days to four.
The dam of Mucho Macho Man , Ponche de Leona, topped the auction Jan. 7 when Betty Moran's Brushwood Stable paid $775,000 for her. Steve Marshall's Black Rock Stable offered the 15-year-old Ponche mare in foal to Distorted Humor . Marshall had bought Ponche de Leona for $300,000 at the 2011 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
Marshall still owns the mare's 2-year-old colt, a full brother to Mucho Macho Man, and her yearling filly by Tapit .
Blake-Albina Thoroughbred Services agency, operated by Ron Blake and Hanzly Albina, consigned the sale topper.
The auction's highest-priced yearling was a $235,000 Kitten's Joy colt that David Ingordo bought in the name of Philip Blake. The April 4 foal is a half brother to stakes winner Ha Ha Tonka and a grandson of grade I winner Capote Bell. Noel Murphy's Castle Park Farm consigned the colt, a son of the Storm Cat mare Gata Bella. The mare is a half sister to grade III-placed Zapper Belle.
At Thursday's final session, 5-year-old Scat Daddy horse Scatman, one of the last horses through the ring, led proceedings at $135,000. Peter Kirwan signed the ticket for a client of trainer Eddie Kenneally and said that Scatman would remain in training. Scatman won last year's Aristides Stakes (gr. III) and was second the previous year in a division of the Southwest Stakes (gr. II) and in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II).
"He's on the van to Palm Meadows tonight," Kirwan said. "He'll race for a while and see how it goes. They bought him primarily as a racehorse.
"He's had some works, and they just have to see how fit he is," he added.
Greenfield Farm (B. D. Gibbs Farm) consigned Scatman and led Thursday's consignors by average price (three or more sold) with four horses averaging $35,500.
The day's top-priced female, at $125,000, came from a consignment that never even expected to attend the auction. The 3-year-old Tapit filly, a full sister to graded winner Tapicat, was among a group of 27 racing prospects to the sold to resolve their owner's financial situation, consigning agent Dan Considine said.
"I'm not usually a consignor. I usually get horses from the consignors who are sending them overseas," said Considine, who operates a quarantine facility in addition to a breeding program and a breaking-and-training operation.
"We broke them and got them going through the gate," Considine said of his consignment, which led Thursday sellers by gross with $615,500 in total sales . "We really didn't think we'd end up coming here, until the last minute."
That dropped a number of nicely bred 3-year-olds into the sale, including the Tapit filly, whose pedigree made her a standout. Foaled Feb. 4, 2011, she's a daughter of the Storm Cat mare Zealous Cat, a half sister to grade I winner Pohave, and she hails from the family of Train Robbery, dam of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Cat Thief.
Twin Creeks Racing Stables' Randy Gullatt signed the ticket in the name of City to Farm Stable.
"I thought it was a really special pedigree," Gullatt said. "I've tried to buy horses out of that family before. We've got a couple of stallions, so I just thought it was a neat pedigree to get into. The plan's probably to breed her to one of our stallions, and she's probably going to Graydar ."
Thursday's top yearling price was the $75,000 that EUBI Bloodstock paid for the Four Star agency's Discreet Cat colt. Four Star consigned the April 21 Kentucky-bred colt for the estate of David Greathouse. The bay colt is out of the stakes-winning Yes It's True mare Truly Blushed, a female line that goes back to group I-placed Rose of the Sea.
After four days' selling, the Taylor Made Sales agency had established an unassailable lead in the consignor rankings by gross sales with 99 horses selling for an aggregate $4,126,200. The Eaton Sales agency was tops by average price (three or more sold) after selling 11 for a $129,091 average.
Ramsey Farm stallion Kitten's Joy, sire of the sale's most expensive weanling, was the leading sire by gross after 12 of his get accumulated $982,000 in the ring. He just edged out Spendthrift's Malibu Moon , whose nine progeny brought a combined $979,000. By average price (three or more sold), the late Pin Oak Stud stallion Maria's Mon was the leader with four sold for a $146,500 average, just ahead of Claiborne's Arch, whose five horses averaged $145,400.
The late WinStar sire Harlan's Holiday was the auction's leading covering sire by both gross and average (three or more sold) after three of his pregnant mares sold for a $1,210,000 total and a $403,333 average. Among them was the opening-day session-topper Life Happened, the dam of graded stakes winners Vyjack and Tepin, whom Select Sales sold for $750,000 to LNJ Foxwoods.
Ben Glass, representing Gary and Mary West, was the auction's leading buyer after purchasing 30 horses for a total of $1,682,000. Just behind him was Frank Stronach's Adena Springs, which landed 29 mares for $1,634,500. The leader by average purchase price (three or more bought) was Glen Hill Farm, which bought just three mares, paying an average price of $271,667.