01/11/2013 6:13PM

Keeneland January sale: Active high-end market leads to gains

Keeneland photo
A Street Sense filly sold for $1.45 million on Tuesday and finished as the highest price of the 2013 Keeneland January sale.

The migration of buyers toward quality offerings, helped along by the high-profile dispersal of Issam Fares’ Fares Farm, helped the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale post gains in 2013.

A total of 1,105 horses sold during five sessions with total revenues of $45,207,300, making this year’s auction the ninth-highest-grossing January sale since its inception in 1956, and generating the highest total receipts since 2008. That figure was a 19 percent improvement compared with last year’s final total of $37,991,900 from 1,003 sold over four sessions. This year’s sale surpassed last year’s edition in total sales in the middle of the third session.

“I remember last year, we [also passed] the year before a couple days before the end,” said Walt Robertson, Keeneland’s vice president of sales. “I think horses that are viable in this market are really good right now.”

Average price of $40,912 was the sixth-highest in the sale’s history, and marked an 8 percent increase compared with last year’s average of $37,878. Median of $15,000 tied for third-highest mark since that figure was first counted in 1989, and finished even with last year’s median.

The buyback rate rose from 20 percent to 25 percent in this year’s sale, with the highest buyback percentages coming in the first and last days of the sale. 

“[The buyback rate] was up more than I’d like, but that’s the way it is,” Robertson said. “There are a lot of horses out there that are tough to sell. It does seem like the bar below which [buyers] won’t bid on a horse seems like it is raising a little bit.”

One of the major drawing points of the January sale was the Fares dispersal, which helped buoy both average and median throughout the sale. The dispersal, handled by consignor Lane’s End as agent, sold a total of 78 horses for $7,313,000. Average sale price for the dispersal horses was $93,756, and median was $56,000.

The sale’s top price was a yearling Street Sense filly, who sold on Tuesday to Canadian-based Nat Rea’s Regis Farm for $1.45-million.

The dark bay or brown filly, a March foal, is out of Grade 3-placed stakes winner Please Sign In, who has produced two winners from three to race, including Certify, who was named Europe’s champion 2-year-old filly in 2012, and Grade 1 winner Cry and Catch Me.

Please Sign in, by Doc's Leader, is from the family of champion European sire Habitat, European champion Suave Dancer, and Australian Group 1 winner Zavite.

The filly’s final bid ranked second all-time among yearlings at the Keeneland January sale behind Inkling, a Seeking the Gold filly who sold to the Coolmore partnership for $3.4 million at the 1998 sale.

Bred in Kentucky by the partnership of Alfred Nuckols Jr.’s Hurstland Farm, William Kartozian, and Darley, the Street Sense filly was consigned by Hurstland Farm as agent.

“I thought coming up here, she was a $300,000 to $450,000-type filly, and the longer I had her up here, everybody was interested, and we started getting feedback with people saying what a lovely filly she was,” Nuckols said. “The word was getting around the sales grounds, and I didn’t get in the way.

“She had a perfect scope report, her X-rays were clean,” Nuckols continued. “She’s a beautiful filly for her size and conformation. I’ve had the whole family for four generations, and she’s probably the nicest individual to come along so far.”

The sale’s top broodmare was Grade 1 winner Nereid, who sold for $1.3 million to domestic buyer Lane Seliger for Baumann Stable.

The 5-year-old Rock Hard Ten mare was offered as a broodmare prospect by Winter Quarter Farm, agent, for owner Eric Kronfeld.

"We expected her to bring a very nice number, and she did," Don Robinson of Winter Quarter Farm said. "I was very confident about her. I'm usually not, but in this case, I felt pretty good about it."

In her first graded stakes attempt, Nereid finished in a dead heat with Cambina for the win in the 2011 Grade 1 American Oaks Stakes.

The mare also finished second in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes last fall in her career finale, and finished third in both the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks and Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes in 2011. Overall, she won three of 11 career starts, earning $303,800.

Lane’s End was the January sale’s leading consignor, largely based on the strength of the Fares dispersal, with 113 horses sold for a combined $9,298,900. The consignment was led by a pair of $800,000 horses who were both purchased by Stonestreet Farm: Supreme, a 6-year-old Empire Maker mare, who sold in foal to Giant’s Causeway as part of the Fares dispersal; and Salty Strike, a Grade 3-winning 5-year-old Smart Strike mare who sold as a racing or broodmare prospect.

Those two mares were the top purchases of leading buyer Stonestreet Farm, who also went to $800,000 for broodmare prospect Potesta. Barbara Banke’s racing and breeding operation purchased five horses at the January sale for a total of $2,810,000.

Keeneland reported 181 horses sold for $1,518,700 at the final session on Friday. Average price was $8,391 and median $4,000. No comparable session was conducted in 2012.

A yearling colt by Ramsey Farm stallion Kitten’s Joy led Friday’s session at $100,000, selling to Greendale Bloodstock. The colt is the first foal out of the winning Stephen Got Even mare Esther Got Even and is from the family of Grade/Group 2 winners and sires Miswaki Tern and El Angelo and Grade 2 winner Via Borghese.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.

- Additional reporting by Nicole Russo

Keeneland January horses of all ages sale: cumulative results

Year Sold Total Average Median Buyback
2013 1,105 (+10%) $45,207,300 (+19%) $40,912 (+8) $15,000 25%
2012 1,003 $37,991,900 $37,878 $15,000 20%