01/11/2017 9:38PM

Keeneland January slows losses in third session

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The third session of the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale saw the market get closer to the pace it set last year, following sharp declines in Book 1. However, those returns came paired with a much higher buyback rate.

A total of 197 horses changed hands on Wednesday for revenues of $3,415,900, down 11 percent from last year’s third session when 220 horses brought $3,817,300.

The average sale price declined 0.06 percent to $17,340 from $17,351, while the median fell 6 percent to $8,500 from $9,000.

The buyback rate finished at 33 percent, up sharply from last year’s similar session where 23 percent of offerings finished under reserve.

“There are two factors, people trying the market out and just taking them home, and then I’d have to say the no-bids. They factor into the RNA rate,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “It’s a sad situation where these horses don’t meet the market and there’s nobody there at all, but I think breeders and consignors need to take a look at that and start evaluating that at the time of entry.

“Our world is changing and is evolving into where you’d better bring quality lots,” he said. “Anything that doesn’t match that, maybe this is not the marketplace for them.”

At the top of the market, two horses transacted for six figures on Wednesday, tying last year’s third session. The number of offerings sold for $50,000 or more rose to 17 after 15 hit that mark last year.

Fifth and Madison, a 4-year-old Street Sense filly finished with the day’s highest price, going to Hurricane Hills for $125,000.

The filly was purchased to enter her broodmare career, ending her on-track resume with one win in six starts for earnings of $33,720. She was previously owned by StarLadies Racing and was trained by Todd Pletcher.

Doug Branham of Hurricane Hills said there were no immediate plans for the filly’s first mating.

“We just thought we might try it and see how it works for breeding her,” Branham said. "We're looking for young mares that haven't been bred.”

Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd., Fifth and Madison is out of the placed Unbridled mare Unaffordable, whose eight winners from nine runners include Grade 3-placed stakes winners Fordubai and Fast Alex, and stakes-placed Afford. She is from the family of Grade 2 winners Sara Louise, and Softly, and Grade 3 winners Til Forbid, Scoop, Just Louise, Coragil Cat, and City Attraction. 

Fifth and Madison was a $250,000 purchase at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale. She was consigned at the January sale by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent.

Jim Fitzgerald bought the session’s top yearling, a $95,000 Orb colt.

The gray or roan colt, born Feb. 16, is out of the stakes-placed Langfuhr mare Cherryblossommiss, who is the dam of one winner from two runners. Grade 2 winner Imperialism can be found in the extended family. 

"Good horses are bringing a premium. It's been the same all week,” Fitzgerald said. “I've been shut out so many times. I thought he was a standout today. I'm a big believer in Orb, so I hope we see him next year.”

Paget Bloodstock and Galtee Bloodstock bred the colt in Kentucky, and he was consigned by Hunter Valley Farm, agent.

Fitzgerald said the colt would pinhooked later this year at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale or the Keeneland September yearling sale.

Verrazano, a resident of Ashford Stud, was the session’s leading covering sire by gross and also by average among those with three or more in-foal mares sold. His three mares to change hands on Wednesday sold for $161,000 and brought an average of $53,667.

Taylor Made Sales Agency finished the day as the leading consignor, with 36 horses sold for $812,700, led by the session-topper.

Keith Desormeaux was Wednesday’s leading buyer, with five purchases totaling $179,000. His list was led by the $62,000 Trippi mare Island Time, who sold in foal to Munnings.

At the end of the third session, 581 horses sold for $24,989,500, down 18 percent from the same point last year, when 595 horses sold for $30,468,900.

The average sale price was down 16 percent to $43,011 from $51,208, while the median was 9 percent behind last year’s pace, at $20,000 from $22,000. The buyback rate was up to 34 percent from 27 percent.

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