12/17/2012 12:39PM

Keeneland January sale to test market momentum


After a year that generally saw gains in the sales market, the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale will be the first auction in 2013 to gauge the industry’s momentum.

The mixed sale will expand from four days to five in 2013, with 19 percent more horses cataloged for a total of 1,893. Selling will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern each day from Jan. 7-11.

“The way our market is at the moment, it’s the old adage that quality sells and there’s plenty of money for quality,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “That, I think, will carry forward.”

One of the highlights of the January sale will be the dispersal of Issam Fares’s Fares Farm, the Lexington-based operation that bred two-time Horse of the Year Curlin. Among the 80 horses cataloged as part of the dispersal is Canadian champion Embur’s Song, in foal to Giant’s Causeway; Deputy Saint, a half-sister to Curlin in foal to Lemon Drop Kid; and a yearling half-sister to Curlin by Distorted Humor. Lane’s End Farm is agent for the dispersal.

“I think that’s a very good drawing card,” Russell said. “It’s a nice group of young mares, they’re very well covered, and the yearlings are by very good commercial stallions. They’re going to have a few racehorses, early 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds, which will be trained here beforehand, so they will be here for people to watch train at the same time.”

A high-profile offering in the catalog will be Grade 1 winner Joha, who won the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity in October at Keeneland. The Johar colt, who will be turn 3 in January, has 10 points in the new qualifying points system for the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Campaigned this year by Bluegrass Bloodstock and trained by Mike Maker, Joha will be consigned as agent by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency.

“It’s a very interesting thing,” Russell said. “We have his dam in the sale as well [Mujado], and that’s how it kind of came for him to be in there. A Grade 1 stakes winner who is venturing on his 3-year-old campaign is a great draw. We’ve seen that racehorses are very popular, good racehorses especially. He’ll be very exciting.”

The 2012 January sale saw across-the-board gains in the key economic indicators, even with fewer horses sold. Total receipts jumped 50 percent to $37,991,900 when 1,003 horses sold. The average sale price of $37,878 was a 53 percent improvement over 2011, while the median doubled to $15,000.

Topliner, a Thunder Gulch mare sold in foal to Medaglia d’Oro, brought the highest price of the 2012 sale, going to Hunter Valley Farm for $1.4 million. The highest-priced yearling was a $490,000 Unbridled’s Song colt, half to multiple Grade 1 winner Sassy Image, who sold to Fox Hill Farm.

Brad Kelley’s Bluegrass Hall was the leading buyer with 31 purchases for a total of $1,977,000, while Taylor Made Sales Agency was the top consignor with 96 sold for $4,264,700.