Keeneland January Sale Concludes With Positive Numbers

(Photos by Z/Keeneland, Photos byZ/Keeneland)
(Photos by Z/Keeneland, Photos byZ/Keeneland)
Reported by: Tom Kenny
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Updated: 1/10 12:29 am

Keeneland's 56th Horses of All Ages Sale, which closed Thursday, continued the auction season driven by positive signs for the Thoroughbred industry with participation from a deeply diverse buying bench, robust trade and exceptional strength at all levels of the market.

Gross receipts for the four-day January Sale, held January 6-9, totaled $41,025,700 for 1,027 horses.

The average price was $39,947, and the median price was $20,000.

At last year’s sale, which covered five days, 1,105 horses sold for $45,207,300, for an average of $40,912 and a median of $15,000.

The 2013 sale included the complete dispersal of prominent owner/breeder Issam Fares’ Fares Farm.

“The January Sale confirmed what we saw during last fall’s September Yearling and November Breeding Stock sales: that we are operating in a fair market,” Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson said. “Buyers are responding to this true market with enthusiasm and confidence that they will see a return on their investments.”

Evidence of the strong volume of trade was confirmed by a clearance rate of 80 percent.

That trend began with the September Yearling Sale, the industry’s acknowledged barometer of its health, and continued through the November Breeding Stock Sale when clearance rates were 80 percent and 85 percent, respectively.

“As in November, during January we saw extraordinary demand for broodmares, which signals that horsemen are making a long-term commitment to the industry,” Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell said. “It’s very healthy to see buyers competing for broodmares at all strata of the market. And it’s very encouraging to see major investors coming to Central Kentucky to establish their American breeding and racing programs.”

Keeneland officials commended owners and breeders for their efforts to keep supply and demand in line, and for working to maintain a realistic market.

“We are hopefully looking at an extended era of profitability,” Russell said. “The stallion masters have kept the lid on the majority of stud fees – other than those for breakout stallions, understandably. Everyone is doing their best to maintain a stable and gradually improving market, which gives breeders a better opportunity for profitability. ”

Prominent breeders were responsible for two of the most expensive purchases made during the January Sale.

The sale-topper came on Tuesday, January 7, when Ponche de Leona, dam of 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner and Horse of the Year candidate Mucho Macho Man, sold to Elizabeth Moran’s Brushwood Stable for $775,000. The 15-year-old daughter of Ponche was sold in foal to Distorted Humor. She was consigned by Blake-Albina Thoroughbred Services, agent.

Grade 3 winner Sweeter Still (IRE), the lone mare in the sale in foal to leading English and Irish sire Galileo (IRE), brought the sale’s co-second-highest price of $750,000 from Damian and Braxton Lynch’s Royal Oak Farm. Lynch purchased the 9-year-old daughter of Rock of Gibralter (IRE) for Phyllis Wyeth of Chadds Ford Stable. Wyeth plans to breed the mare to her Belmont (G1) winner, Union Rags. Sweeter Still was consigned by Eaton Sales.

On Monday, Jan. 6, Life Happened, dam of Grade 2 winner Vyjack and Grade 3 winner Tepin, sold for $750,000 to Solis/Litt Bloodstock on behalf of LNJ Foxwoods. Select Sales, agent, consigned the 13-year-old daughter of Stravinsky in foal to Harlan’s Holiday.

A colt by leading sire Kitten’s Joy was the auction’s top-priced yearling, selling Monday to Philip Blake for $235,000. Consigned by Castle Park Farm, agent, the colt is out of the Storm Cat mare Gata Bella, and is a half-brother to stakes winner Ha Ha Tonka.

Subzero temperatures during the opening two days of the January Sale didn’t affect the size of the crowds in attendance, or diminish participation of consignors and buyers. 

“We want to thank everyone who braved the elements those days, especially our consignors, who presented their horses so well in such challenging conditions,” Russell said. “The weather certainly wasn’t ideal, but it is January in Central Kentucky. We are used to some tough situations.”

The weather had improved significantly by closing Thursday, when Keeneland sold 273 horses for $4,563,300, for an average of 16,715 and a median of $10,000. During the fourth session in 2013, 248 horses sold for $3,389,600, for an average of $13,668 and a median of $7,000.

Topping the final session at $135,000 was Grade 3 winner Scatman, a 5-year-old son of Scat Daddy consigned by Greenfield Farm, agent. Trainer Eddie Kenneally, agent, purchased Scatman, who has won five of 16 races and earned $314,939.  Kenneally said Scatman would remain in training and leave the evening after the sale for Palm Meadows training center in Florida.

Ben Glass, agent, ranked as the sale’s leading buyer, purchasing 30 horses for $1,682,000.

The sale’s leading consignor was Taylor Made Sales Agency, which sold 99 horses for $4,126,200.

“We wish to thank all of our consignors and buyers for their loyal support throughout the year, and wish them good luck during the breeding season,” Russell said.

Keeneland will hold its next auction, the April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, on Monday, April 7. The April Sale preview show will be held Thursday, April 3.

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