Even Book 5 keeps up the momentum
Back-ring prospectors finding yearlings to export all over the world
An energetic mood in the back ring helped bolster business as Keeneland's marathon September Yearling Sale flipped over to the first session of Book 5 on Wednesday.
Activity was heavy throughout the day, as buyers from the US and around the globe quickly examined horses and checked with consignors for updates.
On the day 266 horses were reported as sold for $8,839,600, for an average price of $33,232. The median was $25,000, with top lots going for $175,000, $170,000, and $165,000. The session saw a low RNA rate of 22.7 per cent.
The day's leading consignor was Lane's End Farm, which sold 34 horses for $1,171,200; an average of $34,447.
"The energy in the back ring is really strong today, which we are pleased with," said the farm's Allaire Ryan. "You always worry there might be a bit of a drop-off, but there is a lot of healthy action back here. As long as we're realistic with our reserves, we're getting them sold beyond our expectations.
"There have been a few people vetting horses at the barn, but it's nice to have the back-ring action to fall back on. Even if you don't have that at the barns, you know you have a chance up here, which is encouraging."
Overall the sale continues to post healthy figures. Through nine sessions, 4.7 per cent more horses have been sold than last year, and the gross has advanced 14.6 per cent to $297,708,600. The average is up 9.4 per cent and median by 6.25 per cent.
"I don't think there is a huge difference from Book 4 to Book 5. There may be a little drop in the sire power, and perhaps the physicals as well," Ryan said. "There certainly is a difference in the buyers: there's more strength in the back today than in Book 4. We're seeing some new people from Central and South America that weren't here before. I'm encouraged by what we've been able to accomplish today."
Keeneland officials said buyers are looking for racy horses. "This is a great market if you have a racehorse," said Tom Thornbury, associate director of sale operations at Keeneland. "Out back the pace is frenetic. You better hold on. There are a lot of people from the Ukraine, from Panama, from Mexico. It's like, wow."
The day's second leading consignor by gross was Select Sales, which sold 27 horses for $944,500. Select Sales' Carrie Brogden noted a rise in the quality of horses, and their preparation, later in the sale as an added element of its strength.
"I see very few poorly prepped horses here," she said from the back ring. "There are a lot more professionals here [in Book 5]. I think some of the regional market might have stayed in their own market in Maryland and at [Ocala Breeders' Sales auctions]. The sale feels really good. There is so much trade. The economy is better. The market is stronger now."Atreides, who stands at Hill 'n' Dale Farms, was the day's leading sire by gross with $343,000, averaging $85,750 for four yearlings.
These included the day's top lot in a racy grey or roan filly, Hip 3077, bought for $175,000 by bloodstock agent David Ingordo for Martin Anthony.
Bred by Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings, she is out of Spooky Minister, a daughter of Deputy Minister, who was purchased by John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Bloodstock in 2012 in foal to Candy Ride. Her 2012 foal, also by Candy Ride, is multiple Graded stakes-placed Moe Candy. Moe Candy had an important catalogue update this summer when third in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar.
"He's got Moe Candy in the family, who's running for Hronis Racing," Ingordo said. "She's a beautiful filly by a sire who has some upside. It looks like Deputy Minister is coming back around. She's a very nice individual with a lot of pedigree."
Spooky Minister is out of Lunar Spook, winner of the 1993 Grade 1 Ashland Stakes.
The other three sales by Atreides comprised two fillies for $82,000 and $25,000, and a colt for $61,000. The son of Medaglia d'Oro stood for $6,500 in 2015. Out of multiple Grade 1 winner Dream Rush, Atreides won four of five starts for Stonestreet Stables, including the one-mile Monarchos Stakes by 17 and a half lengths.
"I tried to buy one earlier in the day and got outbid. I like him quite a bit. He's got a license to make a sire," Ingordo said.
As for the Book 5 market, Ingordo said: "It's just as hard to buy today as it was in Book 1. You just take some zeroes off. It's very competitive. You have the smaller breeders bringing these horses up here. There are plenty of nice horses. It looks like a bumper crop of yearlings overall, physically. We're here as long as we have been and there are still nice horses coming up. I'm a degenerate: I'm gonna keep looking!"
The day's leading buyer was Michael Neatherlin, who spent $285,000 for three horses, including a $170,000 Indiana-bred son of Mucho Macho Man near the very end of the session.
That made him the top-priced male of the day, followed by a son of Mineshaft sold to agent Ben Glass for $165,000 from Lane's End.
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