11/16/2012 5:21PM

Keeneland November breeding stock sale sale ends on solid ground

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Aided by strong international participation and a trio of $4 million-plus mares, Keeneland’s 11-day November breeding stock sale ended Friday with generally solid trade despite declines, though sellers remarked that the market remains highly polarized.

The auction sold 2,414 horses for a total of $143,025,600, down 31 percent from last year’s gross of $208,031,700 for 2,550 horses sold. The 2012 average after 11 days was $59,248, down 27 percent from last year’s $81,581, and the $22,000 median was 6 percent lower than 2011’s $23,500.

The buybacks were 23 percent, up slightly from last year’s 20 percent.

Hip-by-hip results.

This season’s losses came against last year’s extraordinary auction figures which included a pair of lucrative marquee dispersals, that of the late Edward P. Evans’s Spring Hill Farm and of the late Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments. The Spring Hill dispersal became the highest-grossing dispersal ever after 170 horses sold for $55,820,000, while the smaller Palides Investments consignment featured the $8.5 million sale of Royal Delta.

Dual Grade 1 winner Pure Clan, in foal to Bernardini, was this year’s highest-priced horse at $4.5 million. Goncalo Torrealba, who has become a partner in Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., bought Pure Clan. Best known as the principal in Brazilian-based Stud TNT, Torrealba bought the mare under the name of Borges Torrealba Holdings and said that this is a new partnership venture with his family members.

Hill ’n’ Dale Sales agency consigned Pure Clan. Her sale helped make Darley sire Bernardini the auction’s top covering sire by average ($2,283,333) and gross ($6,850,000) with three mares sold in foal to him.

Other highlights at Keeneland’s 2012 November auction were two other sales above $4 million. One day after she paid a record broodmare prospect price of $10 million for 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace on Nov. 5 at Fasig-Tipton’s November selected mixed sale, Whisper Hill Farm owner Mandy Pope went to $4.2 million to purchase Keeneland’s opening-day session-topper, 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner and broodmare prospect Plum Pretty. Taylor Made Sales agency was the consignor and ended the auction as leading seller, with 207 horses for a total of $20,071,700. Hill ‘n’ Dale led by average, $218,835, for 69 sold.

Mandore International, a French-based bloodstock agency that has been buying upmarket horses recently for Qatari royal Joaan al-Thani, sprang for the other $4.2 million mare, Changing Skies. The 7-year-old Changing Skies is a full sister to Playful Act, who set a world record for a broodmare of $10.5 million at this sale in 2007. Changing Skies sold in foal to Street Cry. Hill ’n’ Dale also sold Changing Skies.

Altogether, the November auction sold seven horses for $1 million or more.

Mandore International was the auction’s leading buyer after spending $10,235,000 for five horses, including three for more than $1  million each.

The top weanling price was $800,000. Agent John McCormack paid that for an April 25 War Front colt who is a three-quarter-brother to Grade 1-winning sire Pomeroy and a half-brother to the dam of Grade 1 winner Contested. Eaton Sales, agent, was the seller.

“Basically, the weanling market is a pinhook market, and the pinhook market didn’t do great last September,” said Kitty Taylor of Warrendale Sales. “The breeding market did great last September, the people who bred for the commercial market, but for the people that pinhooked, it was thin.

“I also think there has been a pendulum swing in the sense that people are saying they don’t want a ‘professional sale horse’ anymore. End-users want to buy a horse that’s been kicked out in the back 40 and doing his thing, so they kind of view horses that have been pinhooked a little more judgmentally than they used to.”

– additional reporting by Joe Nevills