Big-priced yearlings generate headlines and inflate averages, but most sales company officials and breeders (except those selling the top-priced horses) believe stability and lower buy-back rates are better barometers of a healthy market.
Despite a few sales with huge swings up or down, the 2016 yearling sales season—that essentially ended (a small number will appear in late-year mixed sales) with the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale last week—saw declines in gross, average, and median prices but not at an alarming rate.
According to BloodHorse MarketWatch figures for all sales in which yearlings were sold to date (includes yearling-only and mixed sales), gross yearling receipts for 2016 declined 4.2% to $421.7 million for the 6,896 sold from $440.3 million a year ago when 6,882 changed hands. With 9,687 offered this year, the RNA rate was 28.8%, compared with 26.4% in 2015 when 9,355 yearlings went through the ring.
This year’s cumulative average and median of $61,148 and $18,000, respectively, represented declines of 4.4% and 18% from the $63,974 and $22,000 figures for 2015.
Among the sales that ranked in the top dozen by yearlings sold was the Keeneland January sale in which 403 “short yearlings” (so-named because of the universal Thoroughbred birthday of Jan. 1 of each year regardless of foaling date) were sold for nearly $13.1 million. The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s January mixed sale also saw 199 yearling transactions.
Many of those sold in January were bought for re-sale later in the year, meaning they are included at least twice in yearling sale data.
Top price of $3 million for a yearling sold in North America this year was for a Scat Daddy colt, who is a half brother to multiple champion Beholder and grade I winner and sire Into Mischief . The colt was bought by M. V. Magnier on behalf of Coolmore Stud interests from Clarkland Farm. The $3 million price-tag made him the highest-priced yearling sold at the Keeneland September sale since 2010 and most expensive yearling sold at public auction in North America this year.
Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate Co. emerged as the leading yearling buyer of 2016, with 15 purchased for total receipts exceeding $10.7 million and an average price of $716,667. He was followed by agent Mike Ryan, who had 47 yearling acquisitions for $10.1 million and Steven Young, an agent who also bought 47 for a total of nearly $9.8 million.
The leading yearling consignor was Taylor Made Sales Agency, which sold 538 of the 731 sent through the ring, for gross receipts of $51.3 million. Second-leading consignor was Lane’s End, which sold 293 of the yearlings offered, for a total $28.7 million.
Not surprisingly considering his perch atop the North American leading sire list, Tapit topped all sires of yearlings sold at public auction with 43 sold for $27 million, an average price of $629,070. He was followed by the late Scat Daddy, with 69 sold of 96 through the ring, gross of $16.6 million and an $241,181 average.
The following chart shows the 12 sales in which yearlings were sold this year, ranked by gross sales.
North American Yearling Sales
(Based on gross)
|Source: BloodHorse MarketWatch
KEY: BAR—Barretts Equine
FT—Fasig-Tipton (K=Kentucky; N=New York, M=Midlantic)
OBS—Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.
ONT—Canadian Thoroughbred Breeders’ Assoc. (Ontario Div.)