09/19/2015 8:37PM

Keeneland September: Book 2 closes strong


While Book 1 of the Keeneland September yearling sale turned in steady results compared with the previous renewal, Book 2 displayed the continued growth of the upper-middle market.

A total of 525 horses sold over the two days that comprised Book 2 for revenues of $70,577,000, up 10 percent from last year’s Book 2 when 544 yearlings brought a combined $64,064,500. Worth noting, this year’s second book comprised the sale’s fourth and fifth sessions, while last year’s resided in days five and six.

The average Book 2 sale price rose 14 percent, to $134,294 from $117,766, while the median increased 17 percent, to $105,000 from $90,000. The buyback rate finished at 28 percent in Book 2, marking a slight increase from last year’s figure of 27 percent from similar sessions.

Five horses sold for $500,000 or more in Book 2, bettering the four that did so last year. Thirty-nine yearlings met or surpassed the $300,000 price point, compared with 26 in 2014.

“Book 2 was very good, exactly where we thought it should be,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “It picked up from the momentum created by Book 1 and continued on very well all the way to the last two horses of the session. The money carried through all the way today.”

The top price of Book 2 came during Friday’s session when Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert signed the ticket as agent on a $700,000 Uncle Mo colt out of the stakes-placed Quiet American mare Kiss the Lady.

Bred in Kentucky by A and M Racing, the colt was the first foal out of the dam and comes from the family of Group 1 winner Minstrella, Grade 2 winners A Little Warm, Colonial Minstrel, Blofeld, and Mini Sermon, and Grade 3 winner Minidar. Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned the colt as agent.

“He’s an Uncle Mo, and he’s hot,” Baffert said. “Everybody goes to the same horse. You probably have to overpay, but this is a horse you’re running against down the road.”

Saturday’s session closed with 267 yearlings sold for revenues of $32,095,000, up 13 percent from the final session of last year’s Book 2, when 267 horses brought $28,430,000. The average sale price rose 6 percent over last year’s comparable session, from $113,720 to $120,260, while the median saw an 11 percent spike from $90,000 to $100,000. The buyback rate fell from the last day of Book 2 in 2014, from 32 percent to 27 percent.

Iowa-based Albaugh Family Stables purchased the session topper, going to $485,000 to secure a Mineshaft colt out of the Grade 2-winning Menifee mare Letgomyecho.

“That was a little more than we had obviously hoped to spend, but came up against some steep competition in [bloodstock agent] Steve Young, who I believe was the underbidder,” said Steve Castagnola of Kempton Bloodstock, who signed the ticket as agent. “When Steve Young’s your underbidder, you feel like you’re in the right spot.”

Bred in Kentucky by a partnership, the colt is a sibling to four winners from six runners out of the dam, including Unbridled Outlaw, the third-place finisher in this year’s Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, who Albaugh Family Stables purchased at the 2014 Keeneland September sale for $330,000.

“We think the world of him,” Castagnola said. “We’re thinking of running in the Breeders’ Cup if he gets in. He’s a very special horse. This horse reminded us a lot of his older brother – a tremendous walk, a huge shoulder, great balance, terrific mind. He was hard to pass up for us.”

The colt’s extended family includes Grade 3 winner Western Smoke, stakes winner Soundwave, and Grade 1-placed One Lucky Dane. He was consigned by Betz Thoroughbreds, agent.

Taylor Made finished as the fifth session’s leading consignor by gross, with 29 horses sold for $3,665,000. Ben Glass, the bloodstock adviser for Gary and Mary West, was the day’s top buyer, with five purchases totaling $1,275,000.

First-crop stallion Bodemeister, a resident of WinStar Farm, was the sessions’ leading stallion by gross, with 10 yearlings bringing a combined $1,475,000. Ashford Farm’s Scat Daddy was the top sire by average among those with three or more sold, with six yearlings bringing an average price of $238,333.

Through Books 1 and 2, a total of 968 horses have changed hands for $204,918,000, down 1 percent from last year at this point, when 1,017 yearlings had sold for $206,217,500. The cumulative average after the second book is up 4 percent from $202,770, while the median stayed the same at $150,000. The buyback rate is up slightly, from 27 percent to 29 percent.

The improved performance of Book 2 and the sale’s new catalog format gave Russell cause for a positive forecast as the sale began to approach its halfway point.

“With the new setup, a lot of people have the opportunity to look at these Book 3 horses, which they probably haven’t had in the past,” he said. “People who weren’t usually here when Book 3 starts were still here today. There’s still a lot of people that say they haven’t bought yet or find it difficult to buy. As the momentum carries on, we hope it carries on from two to three.”

The Keeneland September sale continues daily through Sept. 26, with each session beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.

For hip-by-hip results of Keeneland September, click here.