Keeneland's 11-day November breeding stock auction in Lexington, Ky., continued to show a strong demand for Thoroughbred mares and weanlings as it posted more gains at its fifth session Nov. 9.
With six days left to the sale, total receipts with Saturday's selling already had rocketed past last year's gross for a sale that was also 11 days.
By day's end, 2013's total sales for 1,063 horses tallied up to $157,021,200, a remarkable 37.9% ahead of last year's five-day gross for 937 horses. It was 9.8% above last year's overall total of $143,025,600.
Session five's total for 312 horses was $15,987,000, a whopping 39.1% up over last year's fifth session gross. Saturday's average price was $51,420, a 20.8% increase over last year's figure of $42,576, and the $40,000 median also rose by 14.3% from last year's $35,000.
"There was vibrancy to the sale today," said Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell. "We have assembled a strong, diverse buying bench, with an influx of new buyers coming in this weekend."
Buybacks slimmed down sharply, from 21.5% a year ago to just 14.3% as sellers expressed strong agreement with market prices.
"So far, consignors have met every level of the market, which is reflected in the clearance rate of 82% versus 73% last year," Russell said.
Cumulatively, the first five days' average and median also enjoyed big gains over last year's auction. In addition to the dramatic rise in total sales, the five-day average stood at $147,715, marking a gain of 21.6% from a year ago. The $85,000 cumulative average was up by 41.7%.
Buybacks over the auction's first five days were well down. A year ago at the same point, buybacks were 27.9%, but that dropped to 18.3% by the close of business Saturday.
Saturday's top price was the $260,000 that Abdullah Saeed Almaddah paid for the broodmare Dontbeshy I'll Buy, a 5-year-old stakes winner by Cherokee Run. She earned $142,541, won the Brat Stakes and placed in the grade II Distaff Handicap. Adena Springs sold the dark bay or brown mare in foal to their stallion Ghostzapper. Dontbeshy I'll Buy is out of the Old Trieste mare Eye of the Artist, a half sister to a pair of Cherokee Run graded-placed stakes winners in Cherokee Artist and Cherokee Girl.
The session's most expensive weanling was a March 25 Majestic Warrior colt that Stoney Lane Farm bought for $150,000 from Sweezey and Partners, agent. The bay son of Artistry, by Theatrical, is a half brother to grade III winner Kingship.
Taylor Made Sales agency led all conignors by total sales after selling 34 horses for $2,022,000, while Adena Springs led by average (three or more sold) with 24 horses averaging $83,125. Two other smaller consignors who had a good day Saturday by average sale price were Kingswood Farm, whose three horses averaged $71,333, and Blackburn Farm, who sold a pair for $100,000 each.
The fifth session's leading buyer by gross was Calumet Farm, which spent $557,000 for eight horses. The leader by average expenditure (three or more purchased) was Fred Hertrich III, whose four horses averaged $102,000.
Saturday's top sire by gross sales was Lane's End stallion Sidney's Candy with five horses bringing $411,000 for an $82,200 average price; the leader by average price (three or more sold) was Adena Springs' Awesome Again with three averaging $110,667. Among covering sires, Awesome Again was a leader again, this time by gross sales, with his in-foal mares fetching a combined $871,000. By average price (three or more sold), the leading covering sire was another Adena Springs stallion, Ghostzapper, whose six pregnant mares averaged $115,333.
The Keeneland November breeding stock sale continues through Nov. 14, with sessions starting daily at 10 a.m. in the Keeneland sale pavilion, adjacent to the racetrack.