Prospective buyers inside the sales pavilion during Keeneland September

Prospective buyers inside the sales pavilion during Keeneland September

Photos by Z

Bull Market for Yearlings in 2017

Sales of yearlings trend upward compared with 2016.

Now that Keeneland's marathon September yearling sale is complete, a clear trend has emerged showing greater demand in a smaller marketplace when compared with the same period a year ago.

With 2,555 horses sold during the 12-day Keeneland auction for a total of $307,845,400, the average price of $120,487 and $57,000 median were both records for the world's largest yearling sale. The gross, average, and median prices represented gains of 12.8%, 23.2%, and 42.5%, respectively, over 2016 levels.

Yearling-only auctions and mixed sales through Sept. 25, 2017, have offered 6,747 yearlings, of which 4,890 sold for gross receipts of $425.9 million, according to data compiled by BloodHorse MarketWatch. The gross represents a 10.2% gain over the $386.5 million paid for 5,586 from 7,906 offered through the first nine months of 2016 at comparable auctions.

The number offered at the 23 sales where yearlings changed hands so far this year has declined by 14.6% and the total sold is down 12.4%.

Fasig-Tipton's boutique Saratoga selected yearling sale produced the second-highest gross and highest average and median prices, with all three increasing by double-digit percentages this year. Fasig-Tipton reported 156 yearlings sold from 194 through the ring, with gross receipts of $52.995 million, 16.3% over the $45.570 million total paid for 156 of the 203 offered a year ago. The Saratoga sale average also increased 16.3% to $339,712 from $292,115 in 2016, and the median price of $300,000 was 26.3% higher than the previous year's median of $237,500.

The accompanying table shows the top five equine auctions this year ranked by gross receipts and comparisons with 2016.

Besides the overall gains in cumulative gross, average, and median prices for all yearlings sold to date, there has been a significant improvement in the number sold at the top and upper-middle parts of the market.

Sixteen yearlings were sold for seven figures this year, compared with 11 through the first nine months of 2016. A total of 151 yearlings attracted final bids of $500,000 or more compared with 116 yearlings sold at that level at the same point a year ago. Within the upper-middle market price range of $175,000-$249,999, there were 252 yearlings sold this year, compared with 243 in 2016.

Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, 2,927 yearlings sold below $50,000 in 2017, compared with 3,698 in 2016.

Three major sales companies have yearling sales scheduled for next month, beginning with the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale Oct. 2-3. That will be followed by Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's Oct. 10-12 selected and open yearling sale, Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall sale Oct. 16,  the Barretts fall yearling and horses of all ages sale Oct. 17, and the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale from Oct. 23-26.

Yearling Sale Leaders

Sale Offered/Sold 2017 Offered/Sold Gross 2017 Gross 2016 Average 2017 Average 2016 Median 2017 Median 2016
Keeneland September 3,416/2,555 3,798/2,792 $307,845,400 $272,890,500 $120,487 $97,740 $57,000 $40,000
Fasig-Tipton Saratoga 194/156 203/156 $52,995,000 $45,570,000 $339,711 $292,115 $300,000 $237,500
Fasig-Tipton New York-Bred 244/182 263/177 $16,214,000 $13,672,500 $89,088 $77,245 $69,500 $60,000
Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July 244/172 293/183 $16,107,000 $15,756,500 $93,645 $86,101 $70,000 $60,000
*Keeneland January 562/376 586/403 $10,393,700 $13,077,400 $27,643 $32,450 $10,000 $11,000
*Mixed sale