The sale of elite fillies and mares, such as Songbird for $9.5 million, added to Fasig-Tipton’s share of total sales in the combined Kentucky mixed sales marketplace, which surged to 27%

The sale of elite fillies and mares, such as Songbird for $9.5 million, added to Fasig-Tipton’s share of total sales in the combined Kentucky mixed sales marketplace, which surged to 27%

Anne M. Eberhardt

Oppenheim: Kentucky November Analysis

Kentucky mixed sales came to a close Nov. 18.

With the close of play in Keeneland Book 6 Nov. 18, the Kentucky November mixed sales concluded their 13-day run with gross receipts of $276,221,700.

In the last five years the combined Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland November sales have grossed: $271 million (2013), $269 million, $262 million, $269 million, and now $276 million. This doesn't suggest the market is booming out of control, but then again we can never be so definite about mixed sale catalogs being as consistent from year to year as yearling sales because prices, to a certain extent, depend more on what is actually offered at the mixed sales. Having said that though, the fact is the revenues have not varied more than 5% in the last five years.

What has varied is Fasig-Tipton's share of the combined Kentucky mixed sale marketplace, which surged to 27%, or a record $74.2 million, in 2017. This is partially accounted for, of course, by Songbird ($9.5 million) and Tepin ($8 million) selling for a combined $17.5 million at Fasig-Tipton, whereas Keeneland's sale-topper was Stellar Wind ($6 million). When you think one of them (Stellar Wind) is by Curlin , and another one (Tepin) is in foal to him, it's not hard to understand why Curlin has now qualified as one of North America's top five commercial sires.

The BloodHorse compiled figures for all North American mixed sales since Oct. 1, so the numbers are not restricted to the two Kentucky November sales—but they account for about 95%. The mixed sales actually divide into three sectors: in-foal mares; racing fillies and broodmare prospects; and weanlings. Of these, in-foal mares are the biggest sector, accounting for a little under half of the total North American mixed sales revenues to date. The other two sectors account for about 25% each.

You'll recall our findings after the North American and European yearling sales that five "super-sires"—Dubawi, Galileo, Tapit , War Front , and Frankel—had a total of 132 yearlings sell among them, for gross sales equivalent to $108,408,097, an average of $821,273. Only 1.4% of the yearlings sold accounted for 14% of the money spent, and averaged more than 11 times that of the other 9,157 yearlings ($73,601). 

There was a similar separation at the top of the covering sires of in-foal mares in November. BloodHorse figures disclose that, from Oct. 1 through the end of Keeneland November, a total of 1,310 mares sold in foal, for a total of $133,889,850 and an average of $102,206. Just 40 of those mares—3% of the total—sold in foal to War Front, Curlin, Medaglia d'Oro , Tapit, and Pioneerof the Nile . Those 40 mares grossed $42,940,000 and averaged $1,073,500. So 3% of the mares in foal accounted for 32% of the total gross for in-foal mares so far. The remaining 1,270 mares sold in foal have averaged $71,614, meaning mares in foal to the five elite North American covering sires averaged almost 15 times the average for all other mares sold in foal. 

A total of 1,036 weanlings have been sold thus far, for a gross of $72,794,400, or, as noted, about 25% of the mixed sale total. The elite sires often do not have many weanlings sell: Tapit had three sell, for example, War Front just two. So the money is much more spread out and, as several commentators noted throughout the sales, there has been a very healthy representation among sires with their first crops of weanlings coming to market. In fact, no fewer than 13 first-crop weanling sires have averaged more than $65,000 so far.

The 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah  finished up with 10 weanlings averaging $445,500, which of course puts him in the commercial stratosphere, and confirms him as the best sire prospect to appear on either side of the Atlantic since Frankel. Along with Tapit, War Front, Medaglia d'Oro, and Curlin—and maybe his own sire, Pioneerof the Nile—American Pharoah looks certain to rank among the top five or six sires at the North American yearling sales in 2018.

Lane's End Farm's Honor Code , A.P. Indy's last top son, was a clear No. 2 among North American sires with their first weanlings (I denote these as F2017 sires), with nine weanlings averaging $192,778. As we noted in our article covering the first five days of the November sales, though, there were no slam dunks: American Pharoah sold only 36% of the foals cataloged by him (10/28), and even Honor Code was only 43% (9/21).

Lane's End's Liam's Map  ran third on average, with 12 sold (26 cataloged) for an average of $142,500. WinStar Farm's Carpe Diem  has a lot of admirers, and had 17 sell (37 cataloged), for a $120,824 average. Hill 'n' Dale's Bayern  had 12 average $103,333, marginally ahead of Airdrie Stud's Summer Front  (nine averaged $100,667) and Claiborne Farm's Lea , who had 13 average $93,538, which was an impressive 68% of the 19 cataloged.

Lea stood for $12,500 when he first went to stud, but Claiborne has dropped him to $7,500 for next year. After this performance at the weanling sales it's hard to imagine his book wouldn't be pretty close to full for next year already. He looks like a big bargain, based on these results.

Lane's End's Tonalist  averaged $89,467 for 15 weanlings sold, just edging another surprising $7,500 stallion, Darby Dan Farm's Tapiture , who had 13 weanlings average $87,208—well over 11 times his stud fee. The WinStar pair of Constitution  ($80,467) and Daredevil  ($78,571, off a $12,500 fee, but also now down to $7,500) come next, followed by Gainesway's Karakontie  ($70,850) and Three Chimneys Farm's Palace Malice  ($65,083). Lea (68.4%), Tapiture (61.9%), and Karakontie (71.4%) were the only first-crop weanling sires among the top 13 to have over 60% sold, of their weanlings cataloged.

Among sires that covered their first mares in 2017 and will be expecting their first foals in 2018, four stood out, with averages more than $150,000: Darley finished one-two with Nyquist  ($308,889) and Frosted  ($235,000), followed by Claiborne's popular Runhappy  ($160,667) and Taylor Made's California Chrome  ($156,250).

One oddity occured among the covering sire statistics: after the top five covering sires there were another six whose in-foal mares averaged $300,000-$600,000; another five between $200,000-$300,000; and just another 10 between $100,000-$200,000. It seems like if 16 sires had covering sire averages over $200,000, there should be more than 10 averaging between $100,000-$200,000. Maybe that's a weak spot in the marketplace and further evidence of the almost radical polarization we are seeing between the "elite" and the "super-elite," and the rest of the population.