Strong trade continues deep into Keeneland September Yearling Sale
Double-digit percent growth among key metrics reported for sixth consecutive day
The thread of double-digit percent increases for all the key metrics at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale that began with Book 2 continued in earnest through yesterday, the opening session of Book 4.
Bolstered by six horses that sold for $200,000 and up, the sale's ninth session reported gross sales of $13,354,600 (up 51% from the comparable session of 2017), an average of $47,189 (up 42%), and a median of $35,000 (up 40%).
Cumulatively for the first nine days of the 13-day auction, Keeneland has sold 1,987 yearlings for $359,245,200, an increase of 20.7% from $297,708,600 for the corresponding period last year. The average rose 21.8% from $148,409 to $180,798, while the median of $100,000 is up 17.6% from $85,000 in 2017.
Two yearlings sold during the ninth session for more than $300,000—Hip 2865, a colt by Super Saver out of Welcome Guest (by Unbridled's Song), that Alex and JoAnn Lieblong bought for the top price of $370,000, and an Into Mischief filly (Hip 2907) out of Asian Empress (Empire Maker) that agents Nick Sallusto and Hanzly Albina bought for $360,000. During the ninth session of 2017, the highest-priced yearling for the day brought $175,000.
"The market continues to be the same," said Sallusto. "When the right pedigrees and the right physicals line up, then it's a fistfight."
Bo Hunt signed the ticket for the Lieblongs.
"The Lieblongs have had a lot of luck with Super Saver," Hunt said, noting the couple raced Grade 1 winner Embellish the Lace, whom the Lieblongs bought in 2013 at the Keeneland September sale for $320,000. She went on to win the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes and later sold in foal to Uncle Mo at Fasig-Tipton's The November Sale for $2.4 million.
"He said to find him a good Super Saver, and that's the one I picked out," Hunt continued. "He cost a little more than I expected. I thought the horse would bring $250,000-$300,000, so just a little more. You have to stretch on them to buy them."
The colt will be broken and trained at Hunt's training centre near Ocala, Fla.
Darby Dan Farm consigned the session-topper for the Roth family's LNJ Foxwoods, which raced Graded-placed Welcome Guest toward the end of her career and bred the Super Saver colt.
"He was a very nice individual, ultra popular and permanently out of the barn," said Hunter Houlihan, Darby Dan sales director. "We are very excited for the Roth family. He was just the buzz horse, and we are happy he is going to good hands.
"We knew he would sell well, but we didn't know he would be a breakout horse," Houlihan continued. "We are pleasantly surprised. The market carried this horse to where he ended up."
Helen Groves Revocable Trust and Double K were co-breeders of the Into Mischief filly bought by Sallusto and Albina. Asian Empress is out of the black-type winner and multiple Grade 1 producer Aurora, the dam of Grade 1 winners Acoma and Arch and of Group winner and sire Festival of Light.
"She has arguably one of the best American female families and by one of the best sires in America," Sallusto said. "With the top physical, when you combine those three things, you have to expect to pay this kind of money. With this level of female family, it would not have surprised me if she sold for a tick more."
Gainesway consigned the filly, whom public sales director Brian Graves described as a "well-balanced filly that really stood out on the day."
"The market has been good, and when you can land on a hot sire like that, they can bring a premium," Graves said. "Obviously, we could have sold her a book earlier, but here she stood out. She is one of Helen Alexander's offspring, and she has a very strong program. I'm sure that also contributed to why buyers were willing to give a premium."
Through the ninth session, Spendthrift's Into Mischief is the fourth-leading sire by gross sales with 64 sold for $18,545,000. He is among the top 10 by average among sires with three or more sold at $289,766.
The sale continues through September 23, beginning at 10am local time.
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