11/11/2012 10:42PM

Keeneland sale: Sixth session ends with across-the-board gains, $350K topper

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Though no horse surpassed a $200,000 price tag until the final offering of Sunday’s sixth session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, the steady growth of the middle market helped fuel across-the-board gains.

Keeneland reported 265 horses sold on Sunday for $10,740,300, a 21.3 percent increase compared with 2011, when 271 sold for $8,852,700. Average sale price of $40,529 was a 24 percent spike from last year’s figure of $32,667, while median rose 28 percent to $32,000 compared with $25,000 in 2011.

The buy-back rate rose slightly in this year’s sixth session, going from 20.5 percent to 22 percent.

“It’s pretty steady,” said Mike Recio of Hidden Brook Farm. “I think if you have the right looks, as in any sale, you’re still going to rise to the top, and hopefully we can get a new influence of buyers here for the average stock. We see some new names on the tickets and some new faces walking around, so that’s always encouraging.”

The session-topping price came from the last horse to enter the ring, when Terry Raymond and Skychai Racing purchased Moro Tap, a 2-year-old Tapit colt, for $350,000.

Virginia-bred Moro Tap was part of last year’s record-breaking dispersal of the late Edward Evans’s Spring Hill Farm, where he sold for $10,000 to Carlos Morales and Joe Appelbaum’s Off The Hook at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale.

After failing to meet his reserve at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Florida selected 2-year-olds in training sale with a final bid of $100,000, Moro Tap was kept to race and finished second in his career debut on Oct. 12 at Calder Race Course. He was saddled in that race by trainer Gilberto Zerpa.

“I liked everything,” said trainer Mike Maker, who signed the ticket and will condition the colt. “I liked his first race. Obviously, we’re big fan of Tapits [champion Hansen is also by the sire], and he’s a 2-year-old coming [into his] 3-year-old season.”

Maker said that Moro Tap would stay in Kentucky for now and then eventually be shipped to Florida to kick off his sophomore campaign.

Maker has found success over the past two years with Hansen, whom Skychai Racing bought a minority interest in prior to his win in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. However, the trainer said the similarities between the two sons of Tapit did not go far beyond their family ties.

“He’s by Tapit, that’s about it,” he said. “They looked like complete opposites. Hansen probably would have cleared out this ring a couple times, and this guy handled it with ease.”

Consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent, Moro Tap is the first foal out of the stakes-winning Silver Ghost mare Ghost Dancing, and is from the family of Grade 1 winners Dance Teacher and Cat Moves.

The sixth session’s highest-priced broodmare came early in the day, when multiple stakes winner Magnetic Miss dropped the hammer at $190,000, selling to Margaux Farm, agent. She was consigned by Hidden Brook, agent, and Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings.

“She shot way past what we thought she would bring,” Recio said. “We’re very happy.”

An 8-year-old Artax mare, Magnetic Miss was a mainstay on the Illinois circuit, notching five of her six stakes victories in the Prairie State. In total, she won nine of 36 starts for earnings of $459,566.

“She’s a great racemare, the queen of Illinois,” Recio said. “She’s in foal to [two-time Horse of the Year] Curlin and it was a nice partnership with Stonestreet. Today, we wanted her to stand out. Nice racemares stick out in book three and that’s kind of what we were planning.”

Magnetic Miss is out of the stakes-winning Deposit ticket mare Deposit Express, who is a producer of five winners from as many to start, including stakes winners Hydro Power and Royal Express. Magnetic Miss comes from a family of Illinois-based runners, including Grade 3-placed stakes winner and sire San Pedro and stakes-placed winner Paris Meadow. This was the first time that Magnetic Miss has sold at public auction.

Sunday’s top-priced weanling came even earlier in the session, when Canadian businessman Nat Rea’s Regis Farm went to $130,000 on a filly from the first crop of Majesticperfection.

Consigned by Brereton Jones’s Airdrie Stud, agent, the bay filly is the first foal out of the Indian Charlie mare Listen to Libby. She is from the family of Grade 1 winner Currency Swap and Grade 3 winner You’renotlistening.

Keeneland reported cumulative total revenues for this year’s November sale at $124,586,900 from 1,202 horses sold through six sessions, down 34.1 percent compared with 2011, though the two massive dispersals that headlined last year’s sale factor heavily into that change. The cumulative average of $103,650 is a 26.4 percent drop, while the median fell 16.7 percent to $50,000.

Removing the dispersals from the equation, total sales through six sessions are up 5.7 compared with 2011. Average sale price rose 3.3 percent, while the median remained unchanged.

The sale resumes Monday and will run through Nov. 16, with sessions starting daily at 10 a.m.