09/14/2011 7:17PM

Gains continue on fourth day at Keeneland September sale; $650,000 Tapit colt tops session

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Photos by Z/Keeneland
Jon and Sarah Kelly paid $650,000 for this son of Tapit out of Don’tellmichelle.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Keeneland’s two-week September sale kicked on Wednesday, posting more gains.

Led by a $650,000 full brother to graded stakes winner Hightap, Wednesday’s fourth session sold 215 horses for $32,819,500, up 38 percent from last year’s aggregate for 196. The average price rose to $152,649, an increase of 25 percent, and median roared to a 53 percent increase, from $85,000 last year to $130,000. Compounding the good news, buybacks retreated from last year’s 33 percent to a remarkably low 23 percent.

The new advances came a day after the auction’s third session increased the average price by 22 percent and median by 31 percent. Through Wednesday, the September auction had shown increases on three of four selling days so far.

Cumulatively, the auction’s first four sessions grossed $111,176,000 for 544 yearlings. That was up 16 percent from last season, when 527 sold. The cumulative average was 13 percent up at $204,368, and median again performed best of all, climbing by 42 percent to $170,000.

Buybacks for the auction so far dropped from 2010’s figure of 32 percent to 27 percent.

The session-topping Tapit colt sold to Californians Jon and Sarah Kelly.

KEENELAND SALE: Video report and live updates

“I was willing to go a little bit more, if I had to,” Jon Kelly said after signing the ticket. “Tapit is fine, he’s got a sibling that’s the same breeding and a stakes winner, conformation was excellent, walk was great, scoped perfectly, vet-approved, and my wife wanted him, and that gets to the bottom of it, doesn’t it?”

Kelly said the colt will stay in Kentucky to be broken, then will go either to California or Florida.

The Gainesway agency sold the chestnut. He’s out of the Regal Classic mare Don’tellmichelle.

“As a breeder and a seller, they’re not high enough,” breeder, seller, and buyer Kelly said of the prices. “As a buyer, they’re too high. That’s the way it always is.”

Darley Stud agent John Ferguson dominated the buyer’s list at Wednesday’s session, spending $3,145,000 for a dozen yearlings, including four by Darley’s popular young sire Bernardini and three by Street Sense.

Ferguson’s Bernardini purchases were led by a $625,000 son of Avaknowsthecode that Catherine Parke’s Valkyre Stud sold for Oakbrook Farm; that was the second major sale for Parke’s small operation, after she sold a $1.2 million Bernardini filly to top Tuesday’s session.
Ferguson also spent $500,000 for a Bernardini daughter of Ghostzapper’s half-sister Getaway Girl. Indian Creek, agent, was the consignor.

WinStar sire Tiznow also had a good session, with a pair of colts selling above the $400,000 mark. Former WinStar president Doug Cauthen paid $550,000 for a son of the Fusaichi Pegasus mare Ex Caelis, runner-up in the Alcibiades. And Jerry Crawford bought a $450,000 son of stakes winner Flaming Heart, by Touch Gold, for Donegal Racing.

“This was another strong session,” Keeneland’s vice president for sales, Walt Robertson, said. “All indicators were favorable, with the gross, average, and median up, as was the percentage of horses sold. We’re seeing all the things you want to see at this point and are hopeful that the momentum continues.”

The Keeneland September sale was to run through Sept. 24, with a dark day Friday. The Thursday session was to begin at 11 a.m., but all subsequent sessions have a start time of 10 a.m.