01/11/2012 5:21PM

Candy Ride yearling colt brings $140,000 at Keeneland January sale

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Photo by Z/Keeneland
This yearling colt by Unbridled's Song sold for $490,000 on Tuesday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Keeneland’s January all-ages sale came into its penultimate session Wednesday off big gains at its first two days, but six-figure horses were more rare by Wednesday afternoon.

The session-leader at 3:30 p.m. Eastern was a $140,000 Candy Ride yearling colt, a May 17 foal, that Coolmore associate and Camas Park Stud owner Tim Hyde bought from the Taylor Made agency. The bay colt is out of the winless Dixieland Band mare Princess Consort and is a half-brother to two-time winner Arcina.

The other six-figure horse at that point was a $100,000 More Than Ready yearling son of Classic West that Marshall Trivarch bought. Blackburn Farm consigned the dark bay or brown colt for Dunwoody Farm. He’s from the family of Grand Slam.

The five top prices at that stage were all for yearlings, following two days when mares led upper-market selling.

Tuesday’s session wrapped up two consecutive days of remarkable financial growth. Through that second session, gross was up 54 percent from last year’s second day after selling 487 horses (up from 392 through day 2 in 2011) for a combined $30,115,300. The more meaningful figures for sellers, average and median price, also went up significantly. The $61,838 average was up 24 percent, and median rose 50 percent to $30,000.

Cumulative buybacks also fell, from 30 percent to 21 percent, and there were 161 total outs (102 on Monday and 59 Tuesday).

Bidding wars broke out regularly both for mares and for short yearlings – weanlings that turned a year old officially on Jan. 1. The second session’s top price was $600,000 for Magnificent Honour, the Paramount Sales agency’s unraced A. P. Indy daughter of 2007 Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour and a full sister to that year’s champion 3-year-old filly and Belmont Stakes winner, Rags to Riches. Tom Goff of Blandford Bloodstock, sporting a Coolmore Stud jacket advertising its new stallion Uncle Mo, signed the ticket on behalf of a client he declined to identify. But Goff did say the buyer was a European-based commercial breeding entity that would keep Magnificent Honour in the United States and might send her back to Giant’s Causeway, whose foal she now carries.

Buyers still faced stiff competition Wednesday for horses perceived to be better quality, a familiar feeling from veterans of bidding wars on Monday and Tuesday

“We got blown out of the water on every mare we tried to buy,” Fox Hill Farms representative Victoria Keith said, expressing a widespread view among buyers at the first two sessions. “We actually thought that we could come in and buy a few mares, and we weren’t so lucky there. It’s been awfully tough.”

Instead, Fox Hill snapped up the sale-leading yearling Tuesday, a $490,000 Unbridled’s Song colt who is a three-quarters-brother to Grade 1 winner Sassy Image. Havens Bloodstock agency consigned the gray or roan colt, a late May foal, for breeders Judith and Barry Becker. It was the highest auction price a Becker-bred horse has ever brought, the couple confirmed. The Californians have 10 mares.

“I think we’ve turned the corner, and I think part of the reason we’ve turned the corner is because there’s fewer of everything,” said Bill Farish of Lane’s End, which sold Tuesday’s second highest-price horse, Cozi Rosie, for $525,000. Shadai Farm bought the multiple graded winner, a 5-year-old by Pleasantly Perfect. “It’s hard to find a lot of other reasons in the economy, although it does seem there are some positive signs in the economy. Maybe they’re turning at the same time. We’ve found that when you lead something decent in there, there’s a market for it.

“But there are also some signs that the trend is continuing,” Farish said of the Thoroughbred market. “The real bottom part of the market, there is no market for those horses. That tells me the foal crop is going to continue to shrink a little more.”

The Keeneland January sale continues through Thursday with the final session starting at 10 a.m.