11/12/2016 10:51PM

Keeneland November: Even returns, higher buyback rate to open Book 3

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The fifth session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale closed with steady gains in average and median sale price on Saturday, but a spike in the percentage of horses that finished under their reserves.

Saturday’s trade saw 226 horses sold for revenues of $13,975,700, down 0.9 percent from last year’s fifth session when 236 horses changed hands for $14,099,000.

The average sale price increased 4 percent between comparable sessions to $61,839 from $59,742, and the median also rose 4 percent to $47,000 from $45,000.

While monetary figures remained steady between the sessions, the buyback rate rose sharply to 35 percent after finishing at 27 percent the previous year.

At the top of the market, one horse sold for $500,000 or more after none surpassed that threshold during the same session in 2015. The number of horses sold for $250,000 or more rose to four from three, while overall six-figure purchases improved by one to 37.

The session’s most expensive broodmare and weanling sold in consecutive offerings, with Evelyn Benoit’s Star Guitar Inc. buying the Five Star Day mare Five Star Momma for $550,000 and Mary Sullivan buying the mare’s weanling Violence colt for $275,000.

Five Star Momma, a 7-year-old Five Star Day mare, will join Benoit’s broodmare band to support her stallion Star Guitar, who stands at Clear Creek Stud in Folsom, La. She went through the ring in foal to Tiznow for what would be her second foal.

Bred in Kentucky by T.F. VanMeter, Five Star Momma is the most successful runner out of the winning Nueyev mare Momma In Law, who has had five winners from nine starters. She is from the family of Grade 3 winner England's Rose and Grade 1-placed Infringe. 

Five Star Momma won five of 22 starts for earnings of $425,913, highlighted by victories in the Lady In Waiting Stakes at Penn National and the Chip Stakes at Aqueduct. She also placed Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes and the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie Stakes, Debutante Stakes, and Vagrancy Handicap.

"She's a beautiful filly,” said James Keogh, who signed the ticket for Benoit. “She's my only horse today. I loved her. She's got five wins, a 94 Beyer in New York on six furlongs, and an unbelievable female family. It's just a class pedigree. She's a beautiful, beautiful physical."

The session’s top weanling was also the third overall highest price of the day.

The bay colt is the first foal out of Five Star Momma and hails from the first crop of Violence, who stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm in Lexington, Ky. He was bred in New York by SF Bloodstock.

"We loved the physical and the mare could really run,” said Phil Hager, who signed the ticket for Sullivan. “She was looking for a New York-bred colt. We missed on some yearlings so she wanted to get a weanling.

“He was raised at a great place and he was at Machmer Hall for a while, so he’s been in good hands all along,” Hager continued “The price was more than we wanted to give, but it was right around where we thought he might be."

Both horses were consigned as agent by Select Sales. Carrie Brogden, a partner in Select Sales, owns Machmer Hall in Paris, Ky. with her family.

“When the baby came to be prepped at my farm about 60 days ago, I called Tom Ryan [of SF Bloodstock] and said, ‘Wow, wow, wow, wow.’” Brogden said enthusiastically. “Mares just don’t have first foals like this. Quality is what everyone wants and quality is what he is. She is just as beautiful as her baby.”

Brogden said selling the mare and foal back-to-back helped raise the stock of both horses on the sale grounds.

"The reverse happens, too,” she said. “If you have a marginal foal with a nice young mare, it will devalue them as much as a gorgeous foal will help them. I think it made a huge difference. He just exuded class. He was so special. I must have been asked for his vet report 40 times in the back ring. Everyone was falling all over themselves. He is what everyone wants to breed, and on top of that, he is a registered New York-bred.” 

WinStar Farm’s Tiznow was the day’s top covering sire by gross, with two in-foal mares selling for a combined $610,000. The top covering sire by average among those with three or more sold was Lemon Drop Kid of Lane’s End, who had three mares bring an average of $135,667.

Taylor Made Sales Agency closed the session as the leading consignor by gross, with 33 horses sold for $2,548,000.

On top of having an active day as a seller, the Brogden family’s Machmer Hall was the session’s leading buyer, with five purchases totaling 569,000.

At the end of five days, a total of 921 horses have changed hands for $169,809,200, down 5 percent from the same point in 2015.

The cumulative average of $184,375 marked a decrease of 0.2 percent from $184,688, while the median was down 5 percent to $95,000 from $100,000. The five-day buyback rate sat at 31 percent, up from 27 percent in 2015.

The Keeneland November sale continues daily through Nov. 20, with sessions beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.

For complete sale results, click here.