"It's been a long time since I've seen this strong of a market," said veteran Kentucky breeder Beau Lane III Sept. 21, shortly after he sold an Algorithms filly (Hip 3222) for $19,000—$10,000 above her reserve price—during the 10th session of the Keeneland September yearling sale.
"I can remember when it was this strong, but it's been a long time," the operator of Woodline Farm near Paris, Ky., said of the market that started strong and has been buoyant throughout.
With two days remaining in the marathon auction, Lane and his wife Gail, assisted by daughter J. B. Orem and son-in-law Michael Orem, have sold 11 yearlings for $1.948 million.
Lane's top-priced offering was a full sister to grade 1 winner and sire Carpe Diem bought by Tony Nerses during the select first session for $700,000.
"That was a great price for her, because she was a late foal and she wasn't mature," Lane said of the Giant's Causeway filly out of the stakes-winning Unbridled's Song mare Rebridled Dreams. "But she was correct and looked like she would grow into a racehorse—like she would able to run and make a mare. She was way over our reserve and it's been that way all the way through."
In addition to the 11 horses sold, the Lane yearlings that went unsold in the ring found new homes later, with one exception.
"I've only taken one home and I didn't want to sell her anyway," Lane said of a Lookin At Lucky filly (Hip 1668) out of the winning Dixie Union mare Heart Union bought back for $45,000. "I put a high enough reserve on her that nobody would buy her. If they wanted her at an unrealistic price, then they could have her."
With the breeding and sales industries rebounding from the deep downturn following the recession, Lane has improved the quality of his broodmare band, but is doing it by breeding rather than buying.
"I know the only way I can move up in this industry is to have better mares," Lane said. "I can't go to $150,000 or $200,000 for a mare at the sales, but I can raise one. I've turned down some really good prices lately for my race fillies.
"I told a potential buyer that I had to have $300,000 more for a filly than he was offering and he said she's not worth it. I said 'I know, but I'm a breeder and I'm thinking about what I can get for her foals down the road.'"
Lane said Minnie Blip was never offered at public auction because she had some physical issues that he did not believe would pass veterinary muster.