11/11/2016 8:09PM

Keeneland November: Market softens to close Book 2

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A market of ebbs and flows continued to fluctuate on Friday, with significant across-the-board declines closing Book 2 after the section opened on Thursday with gains.

Friday’s session finished with 220 horses sold for revenues of $21,280,500, down 15 percent from last year’s fourth session, when 224 horses brought $25,013,000.

The average sale price declined 13 percent to $97,730 from $111,665, while the median fell 17 percent to $75,000 from $90,000. The buyback rate closed at 26 percent, slightly lowering from 28 percent during last year’s similar session.

Two horses sold for $500,000 or more, doubling the amount to do so last year. However, the number of horses sold for $250,000 or more fell to 11 from 15.

“The quality horses brought top dollar, there was no mistake,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “There is a polarization, a selectivity, in the marketplace at the moment. Those who have perceived quality have been very well rewarded, and those who don’t meet the market aren’t.”

Book 2 of the Keeneland November sale followed a similar pattern to Book 1, in which the first session finished with gains, followed by declines in the book’s second half.

Russell said the back-and-forth nature of the auction’s first two books was more directly attributed to how the offerings were distributed in each portion of the catalog moreso than any actual pattern of buyer activity.

“I would just put it down to the cataloging, that’s all,” he said. “That’s how we put together the catalog – some [consignors] sell on day one, some people sell on day two, so you need to look at Book 1 as one whole book and Book 2 as one whole book.”

Evelyn Benoit’s Star Guitar Inc. bought the session-topper, the $850,000 mare Moment of Majesty.

The 9-year-old mare, who sold in foal to Curlin, will enter the broodmare band supporting young sire Star Guitar, who stands at Clear Creek Stud in Folsom, La. She has already produced foals by Medaglia d'Oro and Tiznow.

Moment of Majesty won four of 28 career starts for earnings of $630,269, highlighted by victories in the Belle Mahone Stakes and Zadracarta Stakes. She also finished second in the 2010 Woodbine Oaks and placed in a pair of Grade 2 stakes races at Woodbine.

Bred in Ontario by Nancy and Curtis Joseph, Moment of Majesty is out of the placd A.P. Indy mare Lady Indy, who is the dam of five winners from six foals to race. Her second dam is champion turf runner Fiji, and the extended family includes French classic-placed Marcus Andronicus.

“I loved Fiji, she was a champion grass mare and it’s a wonderful old family,” said  James Keogh, who signed the ticket for Benoit. “It’s just one of those classy old pedigrees that’s been around forever, and a lot of people have done well by it. I was a big fan of Saint Liam’s, I thought he died too young, and this mare had a lot of race class.”

Hill 'n' Dale Sales agency consigned Moment of Majesty, as agent.

The session-topping weanling went through the ring as one of the day’s closing offerings, with Ocala, Fla.-based Mayberry Farm buying a Curlin filly for $350,000.

The chestnut filly is the second foal out of the Grade 3-placed Lion Heart mare Jungle Tale. She is from the family of Puerto Rican champion Omar Alejandro, and Italian classic-placed Flying Girl.

"She was one of the better-looking fillies that was going to walk up here in the whole catalog,” said David Ingordo, who signed the ticket for Jeanne Mayberry. “We tried on some earlier ones and we didn't get them, and she was kind of the last one that fit the parameters of what we wanted.” 

The filly was bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, and was consigned by Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency, as agent.

Ingordo said the decision to pinhook the filly or keep her to race would be left open for now, but her hammer price increased her chances of staying with Mayberry Farm.

Curlin, a resident of Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, was the session’s top covering sire by gross, with the lone sale of the session-topper at $850,000. First-year stallion Honor Code of Lane’s End was the top covering sire by average sale price among those with three or more in-foal mares sold, with three horses bringing an average of $173,333.

Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency finished as the day’s top consignor by gross, with nine horses sold for $2,210,000, including the session-topping broodmare and weanling.

Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm was the day’s leading buyer, with 10 purchases totaling $987,000.

After four days of trade, a total of 695 horses sold for $155,833,500, marking a 5 percent decline from the same point in 2015. The average sale price was down 0.3 percent to $224,221 from $224,971, the median was down 9 percent to $125,000 from $137,500, and the cumulative buyback rate rose to 30 percent from 28 percent.

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

For complete sale results, click here.