Five things we learned from this year's September Sale
Michele MacDonald on the talking points from the marathon auction
Maktoum family spend big
The forces of Godolphin and Shadwell spent their largest combined amount at Keeneland since 2008, with 34 yearlings purchased by the two Maktoum operations for a total of $20,540,000; Shadwell led all buyers for the fourth time in six years with 17 yearlings costing $12.475 million.
Particularly newsworthy was the major revision in Sheikh Mohammed’s policy regarding yearlings sired by Coolmore stallions.
His new bloodstock acquisition team, led by trainer John Gosden and agent Anthony Stroud, chose 17 yearlings and seven were sired by horses standing for the Irish empire. If this new policy continues, it could be a boon for some breeders taking Coolmore-sired yearlings to market.
Rising stars make their mark
While Tapit and War Front performed as strongly as ever - topping American commercial sires with their Keeneland yearling average prices of $950,000 (for 17 sold) and $770,000 (15), respectively, and accounting for over 40 per cent of Book 1 proceeds - a group of rising stallion stars made a big impression.
Forty offspring of Claiborne Farm’s Orb, whose first foals are juveniles, averaged $172,100 from a $25,000 stud fee, while fellow freshman sire Violence had 40 sold for an average of $166,025 on a $15,000 stud fee. First crop stallions Cairo Prince and Will Take Charge also excelled with average prices of $168,405 on a $10,000 fee and $158,535 on a $30,000 fee, respectively.
Top five sires at Keeneland
Sire - Horses Sold - Average - Total
Scat Daddy - 51 - $334,216 - $17,045,000
Tapit - 17 - $950,000 - $16,150,000
Pioneerof The Nile - 40 - $337,050 - $13,482,000
Medaglia D'Oro - 32 - $391,719 - $12,535,00
Curlin - 37 - $313,378 - $11,595,000
Funds to be reinvested
A key outcome from a strong Keeneland September yearling sale is that breeders and pinhookers will have significant resources to reinvest at the November bloodstock sales.
“As Keeneland September goes, so goes the rest of the market because if our customers have a good sale here, then they have cash to spend in November,” noted Mark Taylor, vice president of marketing with leading Keeneland consignor Taylor Made Sales Agency. Taylor Made sold 270 yearlings for a total of $38,679,400; over the previous decade, Taylor Made led all Keeneland September consignors eight times by gross.
Keeneland's top five consignors
Consignor - Horses Sold - Average - Total
Taylor Made Sales - 270 - $143,257 - $38,679,400
Lanes End Farm - 154 - $140,225 - $21,594,700
Gainesway - 118 - $182,733 - $21,562,500
Paramount Sales - 111 - $118,932 - $13,201,400
Denali Stud - 79 - $162,810 - $12,862,000
Mix of old faces and new spend their cash
New and returning buyers were a force in propelling the sale upward. Kerri Radcliffe, buying for new player Phoenix Thoroughbreds, spent a total of $6.35 million on seven horses, including two with partners (a $1 million Orb colt with Eric Fein and an $850,000 Violence colt with Three Chimneys Farm).
Among returning buyers, Peter Brant’s White Birch Farm continued its comeback to the market’s upper echelon after years in absentia by spending $6.46 million on 13 yearlings. Brant partnered with Coolmore’s MV Magnier on two colts: a $1 million Quality Road full brother to Grade 2 winner Blofeld and a $675,000 Uncle Mo.
Leading buyers at Keeneland
Buyers - Horses Bought - Average - Total
Shadwell - 17 - $733,824 - $12,475,000
Mike Ryan - 44 - $260,682 - $11,470,000
Godolphin - 17 - $474,412 - $8,065,000
MV Magnier - 10 - $716,000 - $7,160,000
Ben Glass - 24 - $207,917 - $4,990,000
Breeders offer views on going forward
Strong sale results left breeders delighted, although some worried that stud fees might escalate as a result. Others offered differing viewpoints going forward, with Carrie Brogden of Select Sales and Machmer Hall Farm suggesting that the success of stallions with relatively modest fees could lure mares away from more expensive horses.
Gainesway’s Michael Hernon said limiting book size is the most effective way to manage stallions and protect breeders. “I think the pendulum is going to swing away from 200-mare books. Anyone looking at the expense of raising horses and the stud fee combined really needs to be cognizant of how the book is managed for the horse they’re patronising,” Hernon said, noting lower average sale prices for yearlings sired by horses with huge books.