Uncle Mo on top again with September Sale set to eclipse 2017's aggregate
Topped by an Uncle Mo colt that sold for $850,000, there continued to be a vibrant market during Sunday's session of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, in which figures soared above the comparable session a year ago.
Keeneland reported 264 a gross of $36,054,000, up 34.1 per cent on the comparable session total of $26,875,500 in 2017. The session average and median prices of $136,568 and $117,500 represented gains of 24.5 per cent and 46.9 per cent respectively, over the $109,606 and $80,000 figures a year ago. The 106 yearlings that went unsold equated to an RNA rate of 28.7 per cent, compared with 31.1 per cent in 2017.
From 1,815 cataloged to date, Keeneland has sold 1,144 yearlings for gross receipts of $303,926,700, and with seven days remaining, the sale is poised to go over last year's entire sale gross of $307.8 million early during Monday's session.
At the same juncture in 2017, 1,179 yearlings sold for an aggregate $254,913,000. The cumulative average has increased 22.9 per cent to $265,670 from $216,211 and the median is up 33.3 per cent from $150,000 to $200,000. There have been 417 horses not sold, for an RNA rate of 26.7 per cent. It was 31.8 per cent after six sessions last year.
"The not-sold rate was down again over last year, and all the other indicators were very positive, so the market seems to be very vibrant," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales operations.
Russell said the fact the auction would exceed last year's gross on Monday is a sign of the strength of this market. He added: "We thought last year was very good... and we were delighted to break $300m, and to do it this year six days in shows the strength of the market."
The Sunday session was the second and final day for Book 2 of the catalogue, and there is likely to be a transition in buyer base going forward, Russell said.
"We will see some of the week one people leaving," Russell said. "To see people like Bob Baffert and Chad Brown last through the week just shows you the quality of the horses going from Book 1 into Book 2."
The session topper was purchased by the partnership of Winchell Thoroughbreds and Phoenix Thoroughbreds from the consignment of Mt. Brilliant Farm.
Bred in Kentucky by Mt. Brilliant, the colt is out of the Privately Held mare Morena, a three-time champion in Peru. The colt (Hip 1510) is a half-brother to Belmont Stakes winner Creator and will be trained by Steve Asmussen.
"From our prospective he was just an all-around very nice horse - nothing in particular that stands out," said Ron Winchell of Winchell Thoroughbreds. "This sale has been very strong. I have been very good at getting outbid."
"This one and Creator were both great," said Greg Goodman of Mt. Brilliant Farm. "This is a really nice foal - a really nice Uncle Mo. This horse does it all. He's got the mind, his X-rays were perfect, the scope was perfect. There was nothing wrong with this colt. He looks fast and he has a huge heart. There weren't any knocks on him. He would have been a Book 1 horse, too, but he stands out here. He's a great-looking horse."
Consignors and buyers said stiff competition continued Sunday for individuals perceived to have the potential for future success on the track.
"There is money still out there, but if (the yearlings) fall below a certain bar, it's pretty tough," said Kerry Cauthen of Four Star Sales. "They want a good horse."
Among the horses sold Sunday by Four Star was a Tiznow colt purchased by Zedan Racing Stables for $500,000.
"Most of the people here are still looking for the high-end horse," Cauthen said. "You don't have a lot of people buying out of the back of the ring. We've sold horses for $200,000, $400,000, and $500,000. It's been a very solid day if you have the goods."
Agent Ben Glass, the day's leading buyer, with five bought for $1.31m on behalf of Gary and Mary West, said it was a very competitive session Sunday.
"There's a lot of money here," Glass said. "I've been outbid a ton. We've been lucky enough to find a lot of horses we love here, but also been unlucky enough to be outbid on a lot of them. There have been a lot of individuals here I really like."
Glass said he plans to continue shopping the sale, as long as there are prospects he likes, regardless of which book they are entered.
"If there is a good horse that matches our criteria, we will find it," Glass said. "If it's in Book 1, 2, or 3 we'll find it and then go home."
With 31 head grossing $3,671,000, Taylor Made Sales Agency was leading consignor on the day.
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