Gross receipts for the five-day sale, held January 7-11, increased 18.99 percent as 1,105 horses sold for $45,207,300 compared to last year’s four-day sale when 1,003 horses brought $37,991,900. Keeneland eclipsed 2012 January Sale totals on the third day of selling, Wednesday, January 9.
Cumulatively, average price of $40,912 rose 8.01percent from $37,878 in 2012, while the median of $15,000 remained unchanged from last year.
“The horse industry is remarkably resilient, and we see greater evidence of market confidence with each sale,” Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson said. “It continues to be a highly selective, highly competitive market characterized by strong trade. The money, and just as importantly the enthusiasm, is there for quality individuals, and that makes for a very healthy outlook.”
Keeneland sale officials noted that the market for Thoroughbred yearlings and breeding stock began its rebound in 2011, fueling optimism that led to exceptional commerce during the recent 2012/2013 sales season.
Many of the positive indicators realized during Keeneland’s 2012 September Yearling Sale and November Breeding Stock Sale were present in January – high volume attendance; robust trade that resulted in strong clearance rates; a deep global buying bench; active domestic participation, particularly at the top; and quality individuals offered at all levels of the market.
Buyers at the September Sale, acknowledged as the industry’s barometer of the health, were out in force well into the final days of that sale, driving the buy-back rate into the single digits during those sessions. That momentum carried into the November Sale, which generated solid business throughout despite the absence of a major dispersal such as the record-breaking Spring Hill Farm consignment in 2011. The January Sale echoed the energy of the fall sales, sparking competitive bidding and double-digit growth.
“During the past two years, the Keeneland sales have helped establish a solid foundation for the future growth of the industry,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s Director of Sales. “Now that the initial shock of the 2008 financial crisis is behind us, people are getting back to business. Supply is falling in line with demand, which is creating a buoyant marketplace. There was great traffic through the sales barns, and great interest in broodmares, which signals buyers’ long-term commitment to the horse business.”
The January Sale was further enhanced by the complete dispersal of Issam Fares’ Fares Farm, Lane’s End, agent, which sold 78 horses for $7,313,000, for an average of $93,756 and a median of $56,000.
“Mr. Fares is a great friend and neighbor of Keeneland,” Robertson said. “The success of this dispersal reflects the respect his peers have for his accomplishments.”
For the third consecutive sale, North American buyers dominated the top end of the market, purchasing all 10 of the horses sold for $500,000 or more in January.
Three horses brought seven-figure bids compared to one in 2012, with new buyers accounting for the top two highest-priced horses.
Canadian businessman Nat Rea’s Regis Farms paid the sale’s top price of $1.45 million for a yearling filly by Street Sense from Alfred Nuckols Jr.’s Hurstland Farm consignment. Out of stakes-winner Please Sign In, by Doc’s Leader, the filly is a half-sister to Shadwell Fillies’ Mile (G1) winner Certify and Oak Leaf Stakes (G1) winner Cry and Catch Me.
The price is the second-highest ever paid for a yearling at the January Sale, ranking just behind the $3.4 million bid in 1998 for the filly Inkling. The top price for a yearling colt is $1.15 million spent for Videographic, also sold in January 1998.
On opening day, first-time Keeneland buyer Lane Seliger of Baumann Stables paid $1.3 million for graded stakes winner Nereid, a five-year-old daughter of Rock Hard Ten out of the Belong to Me mare Dowry. Nereid was consigned as a broodmare prospect by Don Robinson’s Winter Quarter Farm, as agent for owner Eric Kronfeld.
Half-sisters Keertana and Snow Top Mountain – each multiple graded stakes winners – brought the sale’s third- and fourth-highest prices. Craig Bandoroff’s Denali Stud, on behalf of an undisclosed domestic client, paid $1 million for Keertana, while Dr. Jens von Lepel, representing Virginia-based Audley Farm Equine, went to $950,000 to acquire Snow Top Mountain, sold in foal to Blame.
Both mares were consigned by Four Star Sales, agent for the late Barbara Hunter’s Brownwood Farm.
“It is a fitting tribute to Ms. Hunter that her mares were so highly regarded by horsemen,” Robertson said.
Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings spent $2,810,000 for five horses to rank as the January Sale’s leading buyer. Among Stonestreet’s purchases were three stakes-winning mares – Potesta, Salty Strike, and Supreme, in foal to leading sire Giant’s Causeway – who sold for $800,000 each.
William S. Farish’s Lane’s End Farm topped the consignor list, selling 113 horses for a total of $9,298,900.
On Friday, Keeneland sold 181 horses for $1,518,700, for an average of $8,391 and a median of $4,000. No comparable session was conducted in 2012.
Greendale Bloodstock paid $100,000 for a yearling colt by Kitten’s Joy to top the final session. The colt is out of the Stephen Got Even mare Esther Got Even. He was consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sale Agency, agent.
“We want to thank our consignors and buyers for their great support throughout the sale year, and wish them all good luck during the upcoming breeding season,” Robertson said.
Keeneland will hold its next auction, the 2013 April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, on Monday, April 8. The April Sale preview show will be held Thursday, April 4.