Another session rich in bonus potential
Two $325,000 yearlings keep up momentum through Book 4
As each well-built yearling entered the ring, Keeneland vice-president of racing and sales Bob Elliston couldn't help but think the company is going to be writing some checks in the near future back to the day's sellers – and that scenario would be just fine with him.
This year Keeneland expanded its Seller Bonus programme to reward all eligible Graded and Group stakes winners sold at any time during the sale. And, as the September Yearling Sale rolled through a solid eighth session on Tuesday, Elliston was seeing breeders deliver.
"You have some really racy looking foals here in Book 4," Elliston said. "We're going to pay out a good amount of that bonus money, and I'm okay with that."
Two yearlings, a filly by Warrior's Reward and a colt by Stay Thirsty, each sold for $325,000 to headline the second session of Book 4 as Keeneland sold 285 yearlings for gross sales of $15,571,000, an average of $54,635, and a median of $40,000.
"European pinhookers in particular were very active today; it was a good mix of domestic and foreign participation," said Keeneland director of sales operations Geoffrey Russell.
To date, 1,740 yearlings have been sold for a total of $288,869,000, up 16 per cent from last year. Cumulative average has improved 9.6 per cent to $166,017 and overall median has spiked 11 per cent to $100,000.
Taylor said buyers have maintained their enthusiasm for the sale. "It looks good across the board for me. It's been a good sale and there continues to be a lot of activity in the back," Taylor said. "There are a lot of people looking at horses. We were busy this morning at the barn. We hope it keeps on to Book 5."
Warrendale Sales enjoyed a big day, along with breeders Hargus and Sandra Sexton and Silver Fern Farm. Bidding for Live Oak Plantation, trainer Mark Casse went to $325,000 to land Hip 2702. Taylor said as potential buyers visited the Warrendale Sales consignment at Keeneland, the Warrior's Reward filly out of the Unbridled mare Unbridled Appeal won them over.
"I'd say, 'You have to look at the Warrior's Reward filly. They'd say, 'Maybe not.' But I'd say, 'You really have to see her,' and they loved her. It's great for the stallion and great for her."
Warrendale Sales consigned the session's top-priced filly for her breeders, the Sextons and Steven and Brandi Nicholson's Silver Fern Farm. The Nicholsons are the breeders of 2016 champion two-year-old male Classic Empire. The group also teamed on the session's third-highest price and second-highest filly, a daughter of Bodemeister (Hip 2442) who sold for $260,000 to Glen Hill Farm. Dam Five Mach Speed is a full sister to multiple Grade 3 winner Desert Code, who won the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint before it was graded.
The day's other highest-priced yearling was purchased by Bob Hess Jr and Bob Hess Sr. They think they have a racehorse on their hands after going to $325,000 for the Stay Thirsty colt.
Hess Jr, who signed the ticket for the son of the Classic-placed 2011 Travers Stakes winner, said the plan is to take the colt back to California.
"As you saw in the ring, he's a beautiful horse. My dad and I thought we have to make it happen, so we did at all costs," Hess said. "Hopefully we'll see bigger and better from him in California."
Consigned by Betz Thoroughbreds, the colt (Hip 2779) was bred in Kentucky by DJ Stable out of the winning Candy Ride mare Candy Trophy, who has produced one other registered foal. The colt's second dam, Ministerette, by Deputy Minister, is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Chocolate Candy, by Candy Ride.
Hess Sr said they've purchased horses from Betz before and built up trust in the consignor. "His word is gold," Hess Jr added.
A number of consignors and Keeneland officials have noted that the new format, which saw a select group of yearlings offered in a single Book 1 session, appears to have helped continue momentum through the sale.
"We said from the beginning that it was hard to get a horse bought at that session so a lot of those folks had orders to fill and they had to keep shopping," Elliston said. "It carried through Book 2, it carried through 3, and now it's carried through 4. Hey, we have a couple more books, let's start with 5 tomorrow!”
The Sale continues through to Saturday.