01/15/2011 11:52AM

Keeneland January shows gains in gross and average

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Keeneland January all-ages sale ended Friday with mixed results but showed the kind of market stability auction executives and sellers had hoped to see.

Topped by Grade 1 winner Ave’s $1.4 million sale to Japan’s Shadai Farm, the five-day auction sold 1,021 horses for receipts totaling $25,250,350. That marked an increase of 6 percent from last year’s gross for 982 horses. The 2011 average price, $24,731, was up 2 percent. Median, which had remained level with last year’s figures for most of the sale, had dropped by 6 percent at the close of business Friday, from last year’s $8,000 to $7,500 in 2011. The buyback percentage remained at 27 percent, the same as it was in 2010.

Keeneland’s director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, called the market “resilient” and added, “People are still very discerning, but they want to buy horses. That fact is supported by the prices paid for quality individuals, particularly young, stakes-winning mares and yearlings with good physicals.”

Three Chimneys, agent, consigned sale-topper Ave and the auction’s second-highest-priced horse, $800,000 Wickedly Perfect, who sold to Northern Farm of Japan.

At Friday’s final session, Poetfromthepulpit, a 3-year-old Pulpit filly, was the session’s top-priced horse at $40,000. The daughter of stakes-placed Kivi sold to agent Carlos Moore. Vinery, agent, consigned the bay filly, who finished second once in three starts in Canada and has earned $11,605. Poetfromthepulpit sold as a racing or broodmare prospect.

Friday’s session also marked the return of rare palomino Thoroughbred Splash of Vanilla to the Keeneland January auction ring. Now 4, the Ballado Chieftan filly first sold here as a yearling in 2009, when she brought $14,000. Pinhooked to Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic juvenile sale, she was a $9,500 buyback. On Friday, the Canadian operation Paulee Thoroughbreds paid $4,200 for her as a broodmare prospect. The Taylor Made agency sold Splash of Vanilla, who is out of the Guaranteed Gold mare Maid of Gold T B.

“Breeders have done a very good job of identifying the problem and reducing the number of mares bred and stallion fees,” Russell said. “We are just now beginning to see the effect of that adjustment, but it has helped buoy the market.”