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Bergman: Lexington sale drew international group of buyers
By Jay Bergman
Sales are a participation sport.
Without players in the game no auction can succeed.
According to David Reid, who doubles as head of Preferred Equine Marketing as well as manages the Lexington Selected Sale, activity led to action at the key yearling auction just completed in Lexington, Ky., this past Saturday.
“I thought we were doing well in the first few nights, but the key for me came on Friday morning when I saw so many people examining horses scheduled to sell on Friday and Saturday,” said Reid.
The Lexington Selected Sale tends to be extremely top heavy on its first two days of action and that’s where most of the six-figure types sold and where most of the six-figure buyers participated. What got Reid’s attention was the number of people who remained and were eager to look at and buy horses in the sales final two days.
“Buyers who were there were there to buy horses. All the lookers were real people, not just the tire kickers,” said Reid.
There had been some who were concerned with the recent actions in Ontario that the Kentucky auction would stumble, but from the first days in Lexington it was apparent that there was a solid audience of buyers and many were not from Canada, or for that matter this country.
“It’s hard to gauge foreign participation,” said Reid. “From year to year sometimes we see certain faces from abroad and sometimes we don’t.”
This year some of the highest-priced yearlings went to buyers from Australia as well as Sweden. That was key to the overall impact of the sale and proof once again where the best standardbreds are born and raised.
First-crop sires are always the focus of any yearling sale, but this year’s combination of the first crop from Muscle Hill and the second crop from pacing sensation Somebeachsomewhere stole the show.
“I was surprised how well the Muscle Hills sold,” said Bob Boni, whose Northwood Bloodstock agency sells yearlings primarily at the Harrisburg auction. “I thought Muscle Hill was the best trotter I’ve ever seen” Boni continued, “But there’s no way to know what kind of sire he will turn into. The response to his foals was impressive.”
On the pacing side Somebeachsomewhere’s second crop was nearly as popular as his first. His 25 yearlings sold in Lexington averaged well over $85,000.
Myron Bell, who acted as agent purchasing some of the higher priced pacing and trotting yearlings, thought the timing of the sale was ideal.
“I think selling in the second week of the Grand Circuit with the Tattersalls and Kentucky Futurity kept a lot of people in Lexington,” Bell said.
Bell thought the presence of the quality from Muscle Hill and Somebeachsomewhere was good for the sale’s bottom line. Bell purchased Deyrolle on the sale’s opening night for $250,000. The yearling is a colt by Muscle Hill from the top mare Danae.
On the sale’s second night Bell became a “one bid wonder” in a way when he plucked Andaman Hanover, a Somebeachsomewhere colt, for $200,000 as the sole bidder on the Hanover Shoe Farms consigned yearling.
Bell also confirmed that the crowd on the final night of the auction was as strong as the earlier nights. This gave a sense that the market was extremely strong on the top and certainly solid in the mid-range.
“I think the purse structure in this country is still strong,” said Bell.
This year’s Lexington Selected Sale was up in the neighborhood of 5 percent from the 2011 edition and that’s favorable news for those in the breeding business.
The next stop will be Harrisburg in the opening week of November when 1218 yearlings are cataloged to sell between November 5 and November 8, a much larger number than the 704 cataloged in Kentucky. For Reid that means another 145-150 yearlings from his Preferred Equine Marketing will go on the block. Reid’s company is unique in that it offers its clientele the option of selling at all of the major sales.
Harrisburg’s biggest player is Hanover Shoe Farms, the leading nursery in the business and the home of Somebeachsomewhere.
Boni believes the Pennsylvania auction will be a good one.
“I like Harrisburg because I believe you get a captive audience. If you’re there you’re there to buy something,” said Boni.
What concerns Boni is his belief that those looking at yearlings in today’s marketplace don’t look at enough horses.
“I think buyers today, whether it’s trainers, agents or owners, don’t inspect enough yearlings before the sale. What happens then is if they see a horse in the ring selling for an attractive price, they’re not likely to jump in,” said Boni.
Perhaps it was a lack of attention by others that allowed Jim Mulinix to purchase A Rocknroll Dance for just $15,000 at the Harrisburg sale in 2010.
A total of 30 yearlings by Muscle Hill are listed at Harrisburg including half-sisters to Donato Hanover and this year’s standout freshman To Dream On.
Somebeachsomewhere’s second crop will send out 58 yearlings at Harrisburg. Most notable in a quick glance is the full brother to this year’s outstanding freshman Captaintreacherous as well as a colt from Classic Wish, already the dam of champions Bettors Delight, Roll With Joe and No Pan Intended.
It’s Boni’s belief that Harrisburg offers a wider array of horseflesh than the Lexington Selected Sale. Reid believes that Harrisburg may attract a stronger base from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ontario given its proximity and its larger supply of yearlings.
Harrisburg is also the sport’s most recognized mixed auction with breeding stock and racehorses of the highest caliber going through the auction ring.
What the Lexington results may suggest is that there are still plenty of buyers in the marketplace at all price levels.
What the industry can be proud of is that despite the euphoria surrounding the alleged “hot” stallions, there is a wide range of pedigrees that can produce a great looking colt and a world champion.
And that for $15,000 one can find an A Rocknroll Dance or for $250,000 there’s a Captaintreacherous to be had.
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