01/07/2013 8:34PM

Keeneland January sale: Competition for top racemares fuels rise in total, average

Keeneland photo
Grade 1 winner Nereid topped the opening session of the Keeneland January sale at $1.3 million

The migration of buyers toward quality was a prevalent factor in the North American auction market in 2012, and remained so on Monday during the opening session of the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale.

A total of 201 horses sold on Monday for receipts of $15,331,400, up 10 percent compared with last year’s first session total of $13,932,200 from 209 sold. Average sale price improved 14 percent from $66,661 to $76,276, while median of $30,000 was a 6 percent drop from last year’s figure of $32,000.

The buyback rate for the first session saw a fairly significant increase, going from 28 percent last year to 34 percent.

“You never like to be up in the ‘Not Solds,’” said Keeneland vice president of sales Walt Robertson. “However, we had a few more horses today than we did last year. As a matter of fact, that was probably the difference, but that’s one figure that bothers me some. They gave a lot of money for nice horses all day. Unfortunately, there was not a spot for every horse.”

While the middle of the market experienced a mild sag from last year, as evidenced by the lower median, buyer interest at the top of the market showed drastic improvement from last year. Five horses sold for $500,000 or more during Monday’s first session, one more than all four sessions of last year’s January sale combined.

Buyers showed a strong preference for young mares during the first session, with all five of the offerings that brought a half-million being broodmare prospects or racemares retired in 2012 that were carrying their first foals.

The top price of the first session came from Grade 1 winner Nereid, who sold to Lane Seliger of Baumann Stable for $1.3-million.

The 5-year-old Rock Hard Ten mare won three of 11 starts during three seasons of racing for earnings of $303,800. Her résumé is highlighted by a dead-heat win in the Grade 1 American Oaks in 2011.

Nereid was consigned by Winter Quarter Farm, as agent for owner Eric Kronfeld, who campaigned her during her racing career.

“She’s a gorgeous mare,” said Don Robinson of Winter Quarter Farm. “She really stuck out here. She had a presence that grabbed people. It was always expected that she’d bring a nice number and she did. I was very confident about it. I’m usually not, but in this case, I felt pretty good.”
The highest-priced yearling of Monday’s opening session was a Distorted Humor colt, who sold to Nat Rea’s Regis Farms for $300,000.

Bred in Ontario by Christine Hayden and consigned by Cara Bloodstock, agent, the chestnut colt is the first foal out of the A.P. Indy mare Endless Journey. He is from the family of Group 1 winner and prominent sire Miswaki and Grade 2 winner and sire Jump Start.

“He’s a special colt,” said Bernard McCormack of Cara Bloodstock. “We had him here in November and we had a little setback with him, but we thought we’d roll him into January and he’d be a star. He never really let us down. He showed great.”

Taylor Made Sales Agency was the leading consignor for the session, with 30 horses sold for a total of $3,121,200. The consignment was led by Princess Arabella, winner of the 2012 Sunland Park Oaks and a leading contender on the Kentucky Oaks trail before she retired, who sold in foal to Tapit and went to Jane and Frank Lyon’s Summer Wind Farm for $725,000.

Lane Seliger and Baumann Stables were the leading buyers of the first session, with four purchases for a combined $1,820,000. In addition to the session-topper, the domestic entity also bought racing or stallion prospect Battle Hardened, winner of last year’s Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes on the Kentucky Derby trail, for $80,000.

The sale resumes Tuesday and will run through Friday, Jan. 11, with sessions starting at 10 a.m. Eastern.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.

Keeneland January horses of all ages sale, opening session
Year Sold Total Average Median Buyback
2013 201 (-4%) $15,331,400 (+10%) $76,276 (+14%) $30,000 (-6%) 34%
2012 209 $13,932,200 $66,661 $32,000 28%