An energetic mood in the back ring helped bolster business Sept. 20 at Keeneland, as the September yearling sale flipped over to the first session of Book 5.
The activity was heavy throughout the day, as buyers from the U.S. and around the globe quickly examined horses and checked with consignors for updates.
On the day 266 horses were reported as sold for $8,839,600, for an average price of $33,232. The median was $25,000, with top lots going for $175,000, $170,000, and $165,000. The session saw a low RNA rate of 22.7%.
The day's leading consignor was Lane's End Farm, which sold 34 horses for $1,171,200; an average of $34,447.
"The energy in the back ring is really strong today, which we are pleased with," said Lane's End's Allaire Ryan. "You always worry there might be a bit of a drop-off, but there is a lot of healthy action back here. As long as we're realistic with our reserves, we're getting them sold beyond our expectations.
"There have been a few people vetting horses at the barn, but it's nice to have the back ring action to fall back on. Even if you don't have that at the barns, you know you have a chance up here, which is encouraging."
Overall the September sale continues to post healthy figures. Through nine sessions, 4.7% more horses have been sold than last year, and the gross has advanced 14.6% to $297,708,600. The average is up 9.4% and median is up 6.25%.
"I don't think there is a huge difference from Book 4 to Book 5. There may be a little drop in the sire power from 4 to 5 and perhaps the physicals as well," Ryan said. "There certainly is a difference in the buyers ... There's more strength in the back today than in Book 4. We're seeing some new people from Central and South America that weren't here before. I'm encouraged by what we've been able to accomplish today."
Keeneland officials said buyers are looking for racy horses.
"This is a great market if you have a racehorse," said Tom Thornbury, associate director of sale operations at Keeneland. "Out back the pace is frenetic. You better hold on. There are a lot of people from the Ukraine ... from Panama ... from Mexico... It's like—wow."
The day's second leading consignor by gross was Select Sales, which sold 27 horses for $944,500. Select Sales' Carrie Brogden noted a rise in the quality of horses, and their preparation, later in the sale as an added element of its strength.
"I see very few poorly prepped horses here," she said from the back ring. "There are a lot more professionals here (in Book 5) today. I think some of the regional market might have stayed in their own market in Maryland and at (Ocala Breeders' Sales auctions). The sale feels really good.
"There is so much trade. The economy is better. The market is stronger now."
The day's leading buyer was Michael Neatherlin, who spent $285,000 for three horses, including a $170,000 Mucho Macho Man colt near the very end of the session.
First-year sire Atreides , who stands at Hill 'n' Dale Farms, was the day's leading sire by gross with $343,000, averaging $85,750 for four yearlings, including the $175,000 session-topping filly that went to Martin Anthony (signed by bloodstock agent David Ingordo).
The second session of Book 5 begins Thursday at 10 a.m. ET. The sale concludes Sept. 23.