01/09/2017 7:12PM

Keeneland January: Sale opens with declines

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The opening session of the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale showed that the money was in the building for the right horse, as evidenced by the $1.025-million broodmare Siren Serenade. However, an often-sparse market below that led to overall declines.

Monday’s trade saw 163 horses sold for revenues of $10,514,000, down 23 percent from last year’s opening session when 182 horses brought $13,631,200.

The average sale price declined 14 percent to $64,503 from $74,897 in 2016, and the median fell 11 percent to $35,000 from $39,500. The buyback rate closed at 39 percent, up from 33 percent in the comparable session in 2016.

Siren Serenade achieved a seven-figure price tag after no horses did so in last year’s sale, and two horses brought $500,000 or more, matching last year’s opening session. However, the four horses sold for $250,000 and up marked a precipitous drop in that category from 14 last year.

“The January sale is called ‘horses of all ages’ for a reason,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “It’s a catch-all sale, so we have mares, foals and everything. Sometimes we have it in our fortunes to have a dispersal like we did last year [the estate of Sarah J. Leigh], but quality sells. The quality offerings brought top dollar.”

Siren Serenade sold to Don Alberto Corp. for $1.025 million. The 11-year-old Unbridled’s Song mare was the only horse in the catalog offered in foal to leading sire Tapit. She is already the dam of three winners from four runners, highlighted by Grade 1-placed Luminance, by Tale of the Cat. Don Alberto also bought that filly for $1 million at last November’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale. Luminance was the second seven-figure foal out of Siren Serenade, as her War Front filly Lady Mamba sold to Mayberry Farm for $1 million at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale.

"She's a big, strong mare,” said Reiley McDonald, who signed the ticket for Chilean-based Don Alberto, which has a farm in Kentucky. “It's a lovely family. They already own part of that family, and are having good foals, so it was just a no-brainer for them. There was nothing like her at the sale and Don Alberto's playing at the highest end of the game. She was the perfect mare for them.”

Bred in Kentucky by Cynthia Phipps, Siren Serenade is out of the four-time Grade 1-winning Danzig mare Versailles Treaty, dam of 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner George Vancouver and Grade 2 winner Saarland. The extended family features Grade 1 winners General Assembly, Gold Fever, and Boisterous. Siren Serenade went winless in 10 starts, but placed in five of them, earning $49,217.

Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency consigned the mare, as agent.

"It was a bit of an afterthought,” Hill ‘n’ Dale’s John G. Sikura said about the mare’s entry in the January sale. “I'm in the business to buy, sell, and trade, and the mare's produced really good foals, and this was the year to sell her or you were going to be owning her.

It's tough, there are reasons to own her and reasons to sell her,” he continued. “The only reason to sell her is to keep commercial and keep trading, and provide cash to pursue other opportunities. We're happy about her price. I thought she was certainly a million-dollar mare, and she made almost exactly that. It was a fair trade." 

Among newly-turned yearlings, Monday’s top price was fetched by an Into Mischief filly who sold to Machmer Hall, agent, for $185,000.

The bay filly is out of the unraced Trippi mare Anna Sun, whose first foal to race is unplaced. Her extended family includes Argentine Horse of the Year Second Reality and Group 2 winner Hastial.

Carrie Brogden said her fandom of sire Into Mischief was a major tipping point in her decision to buy the filly. Machmer Hall has seven mares currently in foal to Spendthrift Farm’s leading juvenile sire, and has 16 scheduled to visit him in 2017.

"This is all my mom's fault,” Brogden said jokingly. “I dropped out at $155,000, and my mom came up and said, 'Isn't she the one?' and I said, 'Yes, she's the one.'

"I know she was raised at Watercress [Farms, in Lexington, Ky.], and they do nothing but raise runners,” Brogden continued. They raise them tough and strong and outside. They actually bought a horse off us, one of their clients, for $30,000 and I told them I'd take the difference.” 

Fred Hertrich III, owner of Watercress Farms, and John Fielding bred the filly in Kentucky, and she was consigned as agent by Taylor Made Sales Agency.

Taylor Made Sales agency was Monday’s leading consignor, with 36 horses sold for $3,652,500, led by Grosse Pointe Anne, a half-sister to fast-rising sire Uncle Mo who went to Alistar Roden Bloodstock for $460,000, the day’s third-highest price. The consignment accounted for six of the day’s top 10 prices.

Oussama Aboughazale’s International Equities Holdings Co. was the day’s top buyer, with seven purchases totaling $1,171,000. The Chilean resident bought Monday’s second-most-expensive horse, the $700,000 broodmare prospect Delightful Joy, a Grade 3 winner by Tapit.

Tapit, a resident of Gainesway, was the session’s top covering sire by gross, on the lone strength of the $1.025-million session-topper. Ashford Stud’s Shanghai Bobby was the leading covering sire by average among those with three or more mares sold, with three offerings commanding an average of $61,667.

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

For complete sale results, click here.