01/08/2014 8:37PM

Keeneland January: Middle market carries the weight on day three

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Book two of the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale continued to illustrate the strength of the middle and lower markets during the auction, as Wednesday's session - the first of the book-two section - posted across-the-board gains.

During Wednesday’s session, 246 horses were sold for revenues of $5,953,300, increasing 20 percent compared with last year’s day-three total of $4,953,900 from 227 sold. The average sale price rose 11 percent, from $21,823 to $24,200, while the median price of $15,000 spiked 15 percent compared with $13,000 in 2013.

The third-session buyback rate dropped slightly, from 24 percent last year to 21 percent.

“The market’s being met well by the consignors and the buyers,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “What we’ve seen through September, November, and now January is that all levels of the market are doing very well within their own strata, and that’s very positive for the industry.”

Wednesday’s session was led by Lady Kierkegaard, who was purchased by Tim McMurry’s Fleetwood Bloodstock as agent for Jerre Paxton for $310,000.

The 5-year-old Arch mare was sold as a racing or broodmare prospect, but will be kept to breed after winning one of  12 starts for earnings of $114,773 on the racetrack. She was consigned by Winter Quarter Farm, agent.

Bred in Kentucky by Claiborne Farm, Lady Kierkegaard is the last foal out of the winning Mr. Prospector mare Realm, whose eight winners from 11 foals to race include Grade 1-placed Play With Fire and Grade 2-placed stakes winner Haint.

Lady Kierkegaard is one of the latest branches from a Claiborne family line that includes champion Johannesburg, Grade/Group 1 winners Preach and Minardi, Grade 2 winner and prominent sire Pulpit, and a host of other graded/group stakes winners.

“She’s very pretty for an Arch filly and she’s very smooth,” McMurry said. “Some of them can be a little coarse, and she’s not. Jerre would tell you, ‘It’s a beauty contest, and she’s pretty.’ “

An Uncle Mo filly and a Frost Giant colt tied for the highest price among the yearlings offered on Wednesday, each bringing $85,000.

Cedar Hill Farm purchased the Uncle Mo filly, who is the first foal out of the winning Dixie Union mare Southern Colony. Bred in Kentucky by Paragon Farms and consigned by James Herbener Jr., as agent , the colt is from the family of English and Irish champion and notable sire Storm Bird, Canadian champion Northernette, and Grade/Group 3 winners Lindsay Jean, Biwa Shinseiki, and Indian Ocean.

Is It Real Stables was the winning bidder on the Frost Giant colt, out of the winning Is It True mare Sarahisittrue. Bred in New York by Sunrise Stables, the colt is from the family of Italian 2000 Guineas winner Bahadir. He was consigned by Brandywine Farm, agent.

Taylor Made Sales Agency was by far the leading consignor during Wednesday, selling 50 horses for revenues of $1,541,200. Leading the Taylor Made horses was Evil Kitten, a Grade 3-placed Kitten’s Joy mare who sold as a racing or broodmare prospect to Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs for $170,000.

Adena Springs was the session’s leading buyer on day three, with five purchases totaling $417,000.

After three days of selling, a total of 754 horses have been sold for receipts of $36,462,400, down 10 percent compared with last year’s gross of $40,299,000 through three sessions. The cumulative average was down 19 percent, from $59,614 to $48,359, while the median price rose 2 percent, from $25,000 to $25,500.

The buyback rate through three sessions was 21 percent, which was a decrease from 25 percent in 2013. This figure is especially noteworthy considering the dispersal of Issam Fares’s Fares Farm was included during the 2013 sale, which offered horses without reserve, thus inflating the clearance rate. Though the monetary sales figures so far are slightly behind last year’s with consideration to the dispersal, the percentage of horses sold is a significant improvement.

“It’s a fair market, it’s not a crazy market,” Russell said. “This is, to use an old cliché, a new reality. We are in a market where if you bring a good horse to market, you will get a fair price for it. You’re not going to get a crazy price for it, you’re going to get a fair price.”

The fourth and final session of the Keeneland January sale will be held Thursday, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.

Keeneland January horses of all ages sale, third session:

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2014 246 $5,953,300 (+20%) $24,200 (+11%) $15,000 (+15%) 21%
2013 227 $4,953,900 $21,823 $13,000 24%