11/02/2014 3:50PM

Keeneland November: Something for everyone at sale

Keeneland photo
Grade 1 winner Awesome Maria was part of the Robsham Stables dispersal that helped fuel the 2013 Keeneland November sale.

The Keeneland November breeding stock sale is designed to appeal to a wide cross section of bidders, with a catalog as diverse as its buying bench.

The 11-day auction is North America’s largest platform of the mixed-sale season, making it a top destination for broodmares, weanlings, horses of racing age, and stallions. It also has garnered a reputation as a marketplace that attracts players from a wide spectrum of buying levels and parts of the globe.

This year’s auction begins Tuesday and runs through Friday, Nov. 14. The two sessions that comprise Book 1 start at 11 a.m. Eastern, while sessions in later books start at 10 a.m.

A total of 4,026 horses have been cataloged for this November’s sale, growing 12 percent from last year’s sale, where 3,602 horses were cataloged over 10 sessions.

“The November sale is a great sale,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “It’s a different side of the market from the September [yearling] sale, so we get to sit down and meet and greet a lot of our Southern Hemisphere and international buyers. We’re looking forward to it as we look forward to all our major sales.”

:: DRF LIVE: Coverage of Keeneland November sale

Further appealing to international buyers will be a special offering of mares bred to Ashford Stud’s stallion Scat Daddy on Southern Hemisphere time, which will close the auction’s second session Wednesday.

“Keeneland has cultivated an international market, with people from all over Asia, all over South America, and that has been an incredibly strong sector of the yearling market and the broodmare market,” said Reiley McDonald of consignor Eaton Sales. “I expect that the lower-end broodmares will be strong as well.”

The November sale, like many of the major North American auctions, has experienced a rapid resurgence since the doldrums of the late 2000s. While the broodmare market is usually the slowest to react to change, Russell said that observing other aspects of the auction landscape, such as the recently completed yearling sale season, can help predict the performance of this year’s edition.

:: KEENELAND NOVEMBER: Horses to watch

“I think you need to look at it as a three-year review,” Russell said. “We saw a significant growth over the last two September sales, and then this year, we saw a nice, solid September sale, which I think bodes well for the industry. I hope it keeps expenses in check, and that the breeders make some money that they can invest into the game in buying some broodmares and expanding.”

The roster of racing or broodmare prospects scheduled to go through the auction ring includes Grade 1 winners Iotapa and Miss Serendipity as well as Grade 2 winners Concave, Fiftyshadesofhay, and My Wandy’s Girl.

Among the young in-foal broodmares are Grade 1 winners Egg Drop (in foal to Tapit) and Executiveprivilege (in foal to Midnight Lute). The list of veteran broodmares features Collect Call, the dam of Grade 2 winner Old Fashioned; Heatherdoesntbluff, the dam of Grade 1 winner Killer Graces; Maggies Storm, the dam of Grade 1 winner Comma to the Top; Spice Island, the dam of Florida Derby winner Ice Box; Miss Puzzle, the dam of multiple Grade 1 winner Fashion Plate; Sage Cat, the dam of Grade 2 winner and freshman sire Desert Party; and Winning Call, the dam of Grade 1 winner Tapizar.

The November sale will be the bellwether auction for the weanling market, with 1,589 cataloged to go through the ring.

“There’s always demand for good foals,” said Archie St. George of consignor St. George Sales. “There always seems to be quite a lot of depth in the foal market from the high end to the low end, from end users to pinhookers. It seems like there’s some quality foals in the catalog with good pedigrees, by decent stallions. I would imagine it’s going to be as competitive as always.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 11, the auction will feature its horses-of-racing-age segment, anchored by the annual consignment from WinStar Racing. Among the familiar names selling in that portion of the sale are Vinceremos, Daddy Nose Best, Jimmer, King Cyrus, and Laugh Track, as well as stallions Cowtown Cat and Harlington.

The racing-age portion of the Keeneland November sale picked up what could be its most notable graduate last year in Hardest Core, who sold for $210,000 and went on to win the 2014 Arlington Million.

“It adds an interesting aspect to the sale,” Russell said. “Horses of racing age and horses close to racing are always of great interest to buyers because they want the action.”

Last year’s Keeneland November sale finished with 2,457 horses sold over 10 sessions for receipts of $197,189,000, growing 38 percent from the 2012 gross of $143,025,600 from 2,414 sold over 11 days. The average sale price improved 35 percent, rising from $59,248 to $80,256, while the median tied the Keeneland November record of $35,000, rising 59 percent from $22,000 the previous year. The buyback rate was a very moderate 15 percent.

The dispersal of E. Paul Robsham Stables contributed many of the auction’s highest-priced offerings, including the sale-topper, Awesome Maria, who sold in foal to Giant’s Causeway. The Grade 1 winner was purchased by M.V. Magnier on behalf of the Coolmore partnership for $4 million.

Aisling Duignan, another Coolmore associate, signed the ticket on the top-priced weanling, an $800,000 War Front colt out of the Pulpit mare Treasure Trail. The dam is a half-sister to Horse of the Year Zenyatta as well as multiple Grade 1 winner Balance.