01/10/2017 8:57PM

Keeneland January sale continues slide

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The Keeneland January horses of all ages sale posted across-the-board declines for a second straight day on Tuesday. The session was led by the $575,000 broodmare Joyfully.

A total of 221 horses changed hands on Tuesday for revenues of $11,059,600, down 15 percent from last year’s second session, when 193 horses sold for $13,020,400. The average sale price closed at $50,043, down 26 percent from $67,463 in 2016, while the median declined 29 percent to $25,000 from $35,000.

“Mixed sales are hard sales to compare year to year, and even session to session,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “Anything that had perceived quality sold very well.

“Short yearlings sold very well, exceptionally well, both to end users and pinhookers. We look forward to see them hopefully back here in September."

Tuesday’s buyback rate finished at 29 percent, which was a significant improvement from Monday’s opening figure of 39 percent, but down from 26 percent during last year’s second session.

“I think people settle down and realize we’re having a horse sale and we’re here to sell, so that’s always good,” Russell said. “It’s just getting a feel for the market and seeing where buyers are comfortable.”

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One horse surpassed the $500,000 mark on Tuesday, tying last year’s comparable session. However, the number of horses to bring $200,000 or more fell to 12 from 18 last year.

Joyfully, the session-topping broodmare, went through the ring early in the sale, going to Oussama Aboughazale’s Internaional Equities Holding for $575,000.

The 5-year-old Mineshaft mare carried an in-utero foal from the first crop of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. She will be sent to War Front for the 2017 breeding season.

"She's lovely, and her foal sold really well just before her,” Aboughazale said. “I think it's a good buy, I hope. I just bought my farm here, and we have to stock it up with nice mares. You have to start well. That's why we're buying nice mares.”

The unraced mare was bred in Kentucky by Sanford Robertson, and went through the ring carrying her second foal.

Joyfully is out of the winning Forestry mare Rejoicing, and is a half-sister to Grade 3 winners Divine Oath and Auntie Joy. Her extended family includes Grade 1 winners Miner’s Mark, Traditionally, and My Flag; Grade 2 winner Interactif; and Grade 3 winners Animal Spirits and Ocho Ocho Ocho.

Joyfully was preceded in the ring by her first foal, an Uncle Mo colt who sold to Key Palm Stable for $370,000.

Both horses were consigned by Paramount Sales, agent.

“It was a great price for both mare and yearling,” said Pat Costello of Paramount Sales. “They were two lovely horses. Her first foal, by Uncle Mo, was a cracker. He was a beautiful, big-walking horse, so he deserved to bring that kind of money. He vetted out perfect. He was a good colt, and the mare was absolutely beautiful, so when they produce that kind of foal, you know they're a good mare.”

Tuesday’s most expensive short yearling came near the end of the day, with Ellen Charles’s Hillwood Stable going to $385,000 for an Uncle Mo colt.

Bred in Maryland by Nicewonder Stable, the March 10 colt is out of the winning Salt Lake mare Gone to Utah, whose six winners from as many runners include stakes winner Away We Go and stakes-placed runners Powder Mountain, Quiet Hour, and Gallivanting. Grade 1 winners Ogygian and Honour and Glory are in the extended family.

"He's just a really beautiful colt,” Charles said. “Rodney Jenkins trains for me and trains for this colt, so I know all of the family. Uncle Mo comes from my mother's breeding, so it was kind of all in the family. I've wanted an Uncle Mo and he seemed like the right one, so we'll see.”

Charles, a leading owner and Maryland and regular buyer at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic auctions in Timonium, Md., said she does not often shop at the Keeneland January mixed sale, but the Uncle Mo colt was a major attraction.

Kitty Taylor of consignor Warrendale Sales said the colt far exceeded her expectations, as well as the $150,000 reserve. Taylor said the mare colicked and had an obstructed labor while giving birth to the Uncle Mo colt, and had to be sent to New Bolton Center.

The colt’s difficult birth remained a long-lasting concern toward his marketability, even after he proved to be perfectly healthy.

“They put him in standing bandages because he was a little knock-kneed, and that's why he had the white hairs [on his legs]," Taylor said. "We were afraid it would turn people off, but it really didn't stop people because he was just so lovely and he moved so well. He was so sensible back here. He was just a really classy horse. 

"It's a small breeder from Virginia named Carolyn Beverly who only had this one horse to sell this year. I said, 'Let's come here instead of September when there's a ton of them.' I'm really glad to do it for someone like that."

American Pharoah, a resident of Ashford Stud, was the top covering sire by gross, with the lone transaction of the session topper. The leading covering sire by average among those with three or more in-foal mares sold was WinStar Farm stallion Paynter, who had three mares bring an average of $63,667.

Paramount Sales finished as the day’s leading consignor, with 38 horses sold for $1,732,400, including the session topper.

International Equities Holding, the other half of the session-topping transaction, led the day’s buyers, with four purchases totaling $1,080,000.

At the end of Book 1, a total of 384 horses sold for $21,573,600, down 19 percent from last year’s first book. The average sale price was down 21 percent to $56,181 from $71,071, the median declined 14 percent to $30,000 from $35,000, and the buyback rate rose to 34 percent from 30 percent.

The Keeneland January sale continues through Friday, with sessions beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.