01/07/2014 9:38PM

Keeneland January: Figures decline in second session

Keeneland photo
Ponche de Leona, dam of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, brought $775,000 during Tuesday's second session of the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale.

The Keeneland January horses of all ages sale posted declines during Tuesday’s second session, but the news was not a surprise to the sale’s administrators.

Last year’s second session featured the high-profile dispersal of Issam Fares’s Fares Farm, which offered horses without reserve and helped boost the open-market figures. The 2014 January sale does not have a marquee dispersal to put up against the Fares clearance.

Setting aside last year’s dispersal, Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell said he was pleased with the day’s trade.

“I thought the session was very good,” he said. “Obviously, what we were up against is why we don’t compare sessions in the mixed sales, because we were up against the Fares dispersal last year, but it was very comparable to yesterday, especially at the top end. It’s a consistent market through and through.”

A total of 276 horses were sold during Tuesday’s session for returns of $16,794,200, a decrease of 16 percent compared with last year’s day two total of $20,013,700 from 248 sold. The average sale price dipped 25 percent, from $80,700 to $60,849, while the median dropped 13 percent, from $40,000 to $35,000.

The second session buyback rate remained consistent at 17 percent compared with 2013.

“We’re pleased when our consignors and buyers are pleased,” Russell said, “and they seem to be pleased.”

Ponche de Leona, dam of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, sold for $775,000 to Betty Moran’s Brushwood Stable to take over the mantle as the sale’s highest-priced offering after two days of selling.

The 15-year-old Ponche mare, who was offered in foal to Distorted Humor, was consigned by Blake-Albina Thoroughbred Services, agent.

“The mare gets great foals,” said Reiley McDonald of Eaton Sales, who signed the ticket on behalf of Moran. “She's the dam of a Breeders' Cup winner, and there aren't many like her in the sale. We felt like we stretched a little to get her, but who knows what the first foal is worth, and we love [Ponche de Leona’s yearling Tapit filly] coming in right in front of it.”

Bidding opened at $100,000 and climbed steadily in six-figure increments to $700,000. It then stalled for a long moment at $750,000 before Brushwood brought the hammer down with the knockout bid of $775,000.

“It was about what we thought we'd have to spend,” McDonald said. “We stretched a little bit. We've got five good reproductive years left in her, and she gets great foals.”

A stakes winner who earned $260,870, Ponche de Leona produced Mucho Macho Man as her second foal. The son of Macho Uno finished third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby and second to Fort Larned in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic before finally breaking through with his first career Grade 1 victories in the fall of 2013, romping in the Awesome Again Stakes and outlasting Will Take Charge in the 2013 Classic. Mucho Macho Man, who has won or placed in 15 stakes races, has earned $5,340,410 to date and remains in training for a 6-year-old campaign.

Ponche de Leona is also the dam of stakes-placed Mucho Mans Gold.

McDonald said Ponche de Leona may re-visit Tapit in 2014 after delivering her Distorted Humor foal.

“My thought at the moment would Tapit, but I'd like to talk to Mrs. Moran about it a little bit more,” he said. “The Tapit foal from 2013 is so good, it's kind of hard not to go back to him.”

Sweeter Still, a Grade 3-winning Rock of Gibraltar mare, was bought for $750,000 by Phyllis Wyeth’s Chadds Ford Stable on Tuesday to tie Monday session-topper, Life Happened, for the second-highest price of the sale through two sessions. She is the only broodmare offered during the auction in foal to leading international sire Galileo. Eaton Sales, agent, consigned Sweeter Still.

Elliot Walden’s Maverick Racing purchased the session’s highest-priced yearling, going to $225,000 for a Malibu Moon colt out of the Grade 2-winning Victory Gallop mare Kettleoneup.

Bred in Kentucky by Shimokobe Farm, the colt is from the family of champion sprinter Plugged Nickle and Grade 1 winner Christiecat. He was consigned by Gainesway, agent.

Mill Ridge Sales was Tuesday’s leading consignor by gross, with 19 horses sold for revenues of $1,693,000. The group was led by Rietondale, a multiple graded stakes-producing Dynaformer mare in foal to Candy Ride, who sold to Glen Hill Farm for $300,000.

Ben Glass, bloodstock agent for Gary and Mary West, was the leading buyer on day two, with 17 purchases, all broodmares or broodmare prospects, totaling $1,025,000. Topping the list was Our Love Tap, a placed Tapit filly who was bought as a broodmare prospect for $170,000.

After two sessions, Keeneland reported a total of 508 horses moved for receipts of $30,509,100, down 14 percent compared with last year’s two-day total of $35,345,100. The average sale price of $60,057 declined 24 percent from $78,720 in 2013, while the median remained steady at $35,000. The overall buyback rate through two sessions is an improved 21 percent, compared with 26 percent in 2013.

The third of four sessions kicks off Book 2 of the Keeneland January sale on Wednesday, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.

-- Additional reporting by Nicole Russo

For hip-by-hip results, click here.

Keeneland January horses of all ages sale, second session:

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2014 276 $16,794,200 (-16%) $60,849 (-25%) $35,000 (-13%) 17%
2013 248 $20,013,700 $80,700 $40,000 17%