01/06/2015 4:00PM

Keeneland puts April 2-year-old sale on hiatus

Keeneland photo
Aldrin sold for $1 million to top the 2014 Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training. The auction has been placed on hiatus for 2014.

The Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale will be put on hiatus for 2015 and its future viability will continue to be reviewed, the racing and auction organization announced Tuesday.

The auction had seen steadily declining catalog sizes over the past decade, dropping to a low point of 125 entries in 2014 from 265 in 2004. With the cancellation of the April sale, Keeneland is now slated to host three auctions in 2015 – the January horses of all ages sale, the September yearling sale, and the November breeding stock sale.

“The ‘boutique sale’ model has become increasingly difficult to construct,” said Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason. “The April sale lacks a critical mass of horses, a key factor which makes our September yearling, November breeding stock and January horses of all ages sales so successful. We will suspend the April sale this year and continue to review its viability in years to come.”

The Keeneland April sale was founded in 1993, and became the final stop on the North American select juvenile sale calendar before the market transitioned into the open 2-year-olds in training sales of the late spring and summer.

In 2014, the April sale saw 38 horses change hands for revenues of $8,769,000, the second-lowest gross in the sale’s 22-year history. That figure marked a 25 percent decrease from the 2013 renewal, where 59 horses sold for $11,640,000. However, average and median sale prices reached all-time highs last year, with the average finishing up 17 percent to $230,763 and the median rising 33 percent to $200,000.

The sale was topped by Aldrin, a Malibu Moon colt who is a half brother to leading sire Tapit. The colt sold to the partnership of Gainesway, Mt. Brilliant Farm and Robert LaPenta for $1 million. Aldrin, who has yet to win in three starts, was the first seven-figure horse to change hands at the Keeneland April sale since Take Control’s $1.9-million drop of the hammer in 2009.

Among the notable alumni of the Keeneland April sale are champions Lookin At Lucky, Big Brown, Thunder Gulch, and Beautiful Pleasure. Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice and Kentucky Oaks winners Keeper Hill and Gal in a Ruckus also came out of the Keeneland April sale, as did Grade 1 winners Lady Eli, Golden Ticket, Haynesfield, Jersey Town, Love and Pride, and Panty Raid.

“This was a difficult decision given the consistently positive racing results of our April sale graduates,” Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson said. “We decided not to delay so that our consignors will have ample time to make alternative plans for their horses.”