The 70th annual Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale opened Tuesday with total sales up 52-percent from the first session last year. The average went up 35-percent and the median jumped nearly 73-percent, according to Keeneland.
During the opening session, six horses, led by the $4 million paid for Grade 1 winner and millionaire Awesome Maria, brought $1 million or more compared to five horses that reached the mark last year.
“Because the top end of the market was exceptionally strong during the September Yearling Sale, we anticipated enthusiasm for the top end to continue today,” said Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson. “The RNA rate today was very good at 21 percent compared to 30 percent last year. That is very positive and means the market is serving both consignors and buyers.”
For the session, Keeneland sold 113 horses for $42,255,000, for an average of $373,938 and a median of $220,000. On opening day in 2012, 100 horses brought $27,665,000, for an average of $276,650 and a median of $127,500.
The highest-priced horses on Monday were sold to a variety of domestic and international buyers.
“It’s good to see horses with prices like that again,” said Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier, who purchased Awesome Maria.
Awesome Maria was consigned by Lane’s End, agent for the complete dispersal of E. Paul Robsham Stables LLC. The 6-year-old daughter of Maria’s Mon was sold carrying her first foal, by Giant’s Causeway.
“She’s a lovely mare. She’s a very good racehorse and comes from a fantastic family,” said Magnier, who said Awesome Maria would reside at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky. “She deserved to make ($4 million).”
The session’s second-highest seller, which also came from the Robsham dispersal, was Grade 2 winner Broadway’s Alibi, who sold for $2.15 million. Reynolds Bell purchased the 4-year-old Vindication mare, who was carrying her first foal, by Smart Strike, for Alpha Delta Stables.
“Love the mare,” Bell said. “She could run; she’s a lovely physical and (has) a great family. Eliza’s down there (as third dam of Broadway’s Alibi) and she was a champion, so it was just what we were looking for. Wish we didn’t have to pay that much, but that’s the way it goes when you’re buying nice mares. Nice mares are bringing plenty of money.”
The Robsham dispersal produced three of the day’s seven-figure horses. E. Paul Robsham, a prominent real estate developer and philanthropist, died in 2004. His widow, Joyce, is dispersing the breeding stock but will continue to campaign her racing stable.
“The Robsham mares are collectors’ items, and they got collectors’ item prices,” said Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell. The nine horses from the Robsham dispersal, including two weanlings, in the Monday session brought a total of $10.75 million, an average of $1,194,444.
The Keeneland November Sale also includes the dispersal of the estate of Eric N. Kronfeld, Winter Quarter Farm, agent. Selling on Monday for $2.1 million was Eblouissante, the winning half-sister to Horse of the Year Zenyatta and Grade 1 winner Balance. Ian Banwell’s St. George Farm bought Eblouissante, a 4 year-old Bernardini filly who is to remain in training with John Shirreffs. Shirreffs also trained Zenyatta.
Selling for $2 million to Alain and Gerard Wertheimer was Grade 1 winner Lady of Shamrock. Lane’s End, agent, consigned the 4-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy out of the Blushing John mare Blushing Issue.
“She’s a very nice, tough filly,” said Pierre-Yves Bureau, the Wertheimers’ racing manager. “She was very impressive in several of her races, and we’re happy to get her. We’ve been trying (as underbidder) to buy a few mares so we’re happy to get one.”
Bureau said Lady of Shamrock, winner of the Grade 1 American Oaks and Del Mark Oaks, was eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) on Saturday. Bureau said she would be retired and bred.
Bringing $1.6 million was Grade 1 winner R Heat Lighting, a 5-year-old daughter of Trippi in foal to Bernardini. John Moynihan purchased R Heat Lighting for Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings.
“She’s a beautiful mare, probably one of the most talented horses I’ve seen come along in a long time,” Moynihan said. “She was a great 2-year-old, and (trainer) Todd (Pletcher) always thought the world of her. (She’s) just a great addition to our broodmare band.”
The session’s final seven-figure horse was Grade 1 winner Diamondrella (GB), who brought $1.5 million from Katsumi Yoshida, owner of Northern Farm in Japan. Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, consigned the 9-year-old Rock of Gibralter (IRE) mare, who is in foal to Distorted Humor. Fumihiko Nakajima signed the ticket on behalf of Yoshida.
At $800,000, the session’s top-priced weanling was a son of War Front out of the Pulpit mare Treasure Trail, a half-sister to Horse of the Year Zenyatta. Claiborne Farm, agent, consigned the colt, who was purchased by Aisling Duignan of Coolmore.
Magnier, whose lone purchase was Awesome Maria, was the session’s leading buyer. The leading consignor was Lane’s End Farm, which sold 15 horses for $13,970,000.
The 10-day November Sale continues through Thursday, Nov. 14. Sessions begin daily at 10 a.m. ET. The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.