01/15/2015 8:06PM

Keeneland January: Sale concludes four-day run with declines


The Keeneland January horses of all ages sale continued the mixed market’s trend of finding its levels after a series of upward-trending seasons, posting across-the-board declines as it concluded the final session on Thursday.

The four-day auction closed with 948 horses sold for revenues of $35,305,500, down 14 percent from the 2014 renewal of the Keeneland January sale when 1,027 horses brought $41,025,700.

The cumulative average sale price dipped seven percent, from $39,947 to $37,242, while the median took a 20 percent drop from $20,000 to $16,000.

“Looking back at the sale season for 2014 and 2015, it’s where the industry needs to be at the moment,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “You need stabilization. We’ve had two very good years, 2012 and 2013, and we didn’t really need another boost up. We needed to have some stability so we can lay down a good foundation and continue on.”

The sale’s cumulative buyback rate rose from 20 percent to 25 percent.

“I think the January sale looks like it continued the same way as the September [yearling] sale and the November [breeding stock] sale,” Russell said. “The buzzword is ‘quality.’ Anything that has quality has sold very well, no matter what market they’re in. Those who don’t reach that threshold are found wanting.”

At the top of the market, four horses brought $400,000 or more during Keeneland January sale, down from five last year. The short yearling market showed growth at the top, with six horses in that sector bringing $200,000 or more, besting the four to do so in 2014.

“Overall, I thought the short yearling market was good,” Russell said. “It showed exactly what the weanling market was in November, and I don’t think there was any increase or decrease. … There is money here. There seems to be end-users, there seems to be pinhookers. There seems to be a good cross-section of buyers. When the nice one walked up the hill, they all lined up to bid on them.”

Multiple group stakes winner Up, whose page combined two popular commercial sires, and her first foal drew the sale’s two highest prices. The broodmare sold for $2.2 million to Ran Jan Racing, while her newly-turned yearling War Front filly fetched $800,000 to LNJ Foxwoods.

Up, a 6-year-old daughter of international titan Galileo was consigned by Four Star Sales, as agent. The mare sold carrying a foal by popular young commercial sire War Front. Up's first foal, the yearling War Front filly also consigned by Four Star, immediately followed her through the ring.

Up’s price made her the most expensive horse sold at the Keeneland January sale since the mare Irish Cherry topped the 2008 sale, going to Southern Equine Stables for $2.7 million. The War Front filly’s price made her the sixth most-expensive yearling filly ever sold at Keeneland January, and the eighth most expensive yearling all-time at the sale. Up's price tag also made her the most expensive horse ever sold by consignor Four Star Sales, as agent.

"I think whenever you're dealing with collector's items, you're dealing with people who own them that are obviously very wealthy, and they don't just give them away," Kerry Cauthen of Four Star said of the duo. "You're always concerned that you're not going to get your buyers and sellers together. I thought [Up] was a very special mare, and I really didn't doubt that she'd get sold, and I thought it was a really fair price. I thought buyer and seller had a fair trade.”

Up was a solid racemare during her own career, winning the Group 2 Blandford Stakes and the Group 3 Fillies Stakes in Ireland, and finishing second in the French 1000 Guineas. She is one of four winners out of her dam, the Spectrum mare Halland Park Lass, who also produced English Group 1 winner Dutch Art. Up's second dam is German highweight Palacegate Episode, dam of Scandanavian champion King Quantas.

"We just love the pedigree, love War Front, love Galileo," said Frank Taylor, who signed the ticket on Up for Ran Jan. "The family's active, there's a good stallion in the pedigree, so that's something they wanted. They've been wanting a Galileo mare for a long time, so she was the one. ... [The price is] about where we pegged her. We looked at some comparable horses by Galileo and in foal to War Front and they were bringing a lot of money, so we thought that was a fair price. We actually just made one bid and we got her then."

Taylor said it was undecided if the new owners would sell or race the foal Up is carrying, and no breeding plans for the mare have been discussed yet.

Up delivered the War Front filly purchased by LNJ Foxwoods on March 13, 2014 and is back in foal to the stallion on a March 30 cover.

"It was a great foal out of a Group 2-winning mare," said Katey Caddel, a representative for Solis/Litt Bloodstock, which purchased the yearling on behalf of LNJ Foxwoods. "She's a half sister to a really nice stallion over in Europe. ... We plan on racing her, and be added to the broodmare band eventually.

"It's a really good physical and a good cross between a War Front and a Galileo," said Caddel, adding that the outfit did not bid on Up. "Good length to her, really smooth mover, so she ticked all the boxes for us."

Taylor Made Sales Agency finished as the sale’s leading consignor by gross, with 85 horses selling for a combined $4,639,100. The group was led by Ruban Bleu, a stakes-placed Broken Vow mare and dam of impressive recent maiden winner Tiznow R J, who sold to Olin B. Gentry, as agent, for $360,000.

Ran Jan Racing was the sale’s leading buyer, with the sole purchase of the $2.2 million topper.

Thursday’s final session moved 254 horses for $3,432,800, down 25 percent from last year’s fourth day when 273 horses brought $4,563,300. The session’s average price dropped 19 percent from $16,715 to $13,515, while the median fell 25 percent from $10,000 to $7,500 and the buyback rate rose from 16 percent to 21 percent.

A yearling Malibu Moon colt out of the winning Medaglia d’Oro mare Medal Winner topped Thursday’s session, selling to Milfer Farm Inc. for $120,000. The colt was consigned by Four Star Sales as agent for JSM Equine and Greathouse Horse Properties.

Trophy Gal, an unraced Awesome Again mare in foal to The Factor, led the fourth session’s broodmares and drew the day’s second-highest price, going to Coronation Investments for $105,000. The half sister to Grade 3 winner Unbridled Humor was consigned by Mill Ridge Sales, as agent.

For complete sale results, click here.

-- Additional reporting by Nicole Russo

Culumative figures

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2015 948 (-8%) $35,305,500 (-14%) $37,242 (-7%) $16,000 (-20%) 25%
2014 1,027 $41,025,700 $39,947 $20,000 20%

Fourth session figures

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2015 254 (-7%) $3,432,800 (-25%) $13,515 (-19%) $7,500 (-25%) 21%
2014 273 $4,563,300 $16,715 $10,000 16%