11/13/2017 11:40AM

Keeneland November: Gross and average down at halfway point

Storm the Hill sold for $275,000 at Keeneland November as a racing or broodmare prospect.

The Keeneland November breeding stock sale, a nearly two-week marathon that tests the market by offering a wide variety of horses, reached its midway point Sunday with a decline in gross and the average sale price trending downward compared to the halfway point last year. But the median is up and the buyback rate is improved, and the marketplace is displaying a healthy middle market, as evidenced by improved figures in the Book 3 portion of the sale, which took place over the weekend.

Through the sale’s first six sessions, which make up the first three books, 1,172 horses had been sold for gross receipts of $174,295,500. Through the same number of sessions and books in 2016, 1,154 horses had changed hands for $179,956,200, meaning the gross is down 3 percent this year.

The average sale price, $148,716, is down about 5 percent from $155,941 at this point last year. The median, $80,000, is up 7 percent from the $75,000 at this point last year. The buyback rate is 26 percent, improved from 31 percent at the midway point last year.

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The Saturday and Sunday sessions made up Book 3 and finished with 512 horses sold for $30,198,500, up 25 percent from $24,122,700 for 459 sold in Book 3 last year. The average sale price of $58,981 was up 12 percent from $52,555. A demand for young stock by young sires helped fuel Book 3, which had improved figures in both its sessions and closed strong Sunday, with the session-to-session gross soaring 47 percent and the average and median spiking 29 percent and 31 percent.

Grade 3-placed stakes winner Storm the Hill was the most expensive horse of Book 3, selling for $275,000 to Lynn and Rovena Alexander’s Alastar Thoroughbreds. Bloodstock agent Mike Aker said the Alexanders plan to continue racing the Get Stormy filly, who was offered as a racing or broodmare prospect.

The most expensive weanling of the weekend was a filly from the first crop of Lea sold to bloodstock agent Mike Ryan for $230,000.

Led by those two, eight horses sold for $200,000 or more in Book 3, trailing the 13 to do so last year, and none approached that renewal’s top price of $550,000. Despite the lower price points, bloodstock agent Chris Brothers described the bidding action as “extremely competitive” after he signed for one of the weekend’s most expensive offerings, the $260,000 broodmare Aqua Regia.

“Good stock – anything worth anything good – is just a fight,” Brothers said. “You’re going 20, 30 percent over what you would have liked to have spent.”