09/17/2016 8:06PM

Keeneland September: Book 2 posts gains in average, median

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Book 2 of the Keeneland September yearling sale closed on Saturday, putting a bow on a solid performance from that section of the catalog.

Over the two sessions that comprised Book 2, a total of 465 yearlings sold for $69,281,000, marking a 2 percent decline from last year when more horses, 525, sold for a combined $70,557,000.

The average sale price for a Book 2 yearling rose 11 percent to $148,672 from $134,394, while the median increased 12 percent to $117,500 from $105,000.

Book 2 was led by its first seven-figure offering since 2011, with relative newcomer E5 Racing going to $1 million for a Curlin colt out of the stakes-winning Hard Spun mare Glinda the Good.

At the next level, nine yearlings changed hands for $500,000 or more in Book 2, topping the five to do so last year.

"You're seeing a little change in dynamic in some of the buyers," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "There's a few players that last year weren't playing at that level. It's an influx of some new money at that level, I would think, to make it very difficult and competitive [to buy].

"The European pinhookers have been busy, and the American pinhookers have been getting into stride," Russell continued. "Traditionally, the American pinhookers come in around Book 3, so then with some people who are new to the top end of the market, they'll start pushing people further down. We hope they're here and we hope they're going to be busy from Book 3 onwards."

The buyback rate finished at 33 percent for Book 2, compared with 28 percent last year.

The strong upper market helped continue the momentum established during the sale’s select first book. After five days of trade, a total of 812 horses have sold for $189,506,000, down 8 percent from the same point in 2015 when 968 yearlings had brought $204,918,000.

The cumulative average sits at $233,382, outpacing last year’s figure of $211,692 by 10 percent, while the median is up 13 percent to $170,000 from $150,000. The buyback rate is trending up at 32 percent from 39 percent.

Saturday’s Book 2 finale saw 224 yearlings sold for $30,383,000, down 5 percent from last year’s fifth session when 267 offerings sold for $32,095,000. The day’s average sale price closed at $135,638, up 13 percent from last year’s mark of $120,206, and the median went unchanged at $100,000. The buyback rate for the day finished at 35 percent, up from 27 percent during last year’s comparable session.

The Farish family’s Lane’s End purchased Saturday’s most expensive horse and Book 2’s second highest price overall, a $750,000 Uncle Mo colt.

The bay colt is out of the stakes-placed Victory Gallop mare Magical Victory, whose first two foals to race are both winners. He comes from the family of Grade 1 winners Miss Houdini, and Magical Maiden Grade 2 winners Papa Clem, Magical Mile, and Moviesta, and Grade 3 winners Ready Intaglio and Take the Ribbon. He shares the same female family as Friday’s session-topper.

"He's a really nice colt,” said Bill Farish of Lane’s End. “We knew he was going to be one of the feature lots of the day, and we went a little further than we wanted to, but we got him.”

Farish, who said the colt would be kept to race, noted that the competition had not softened for quality offerings as the sale wore on.

"It's just so competitive for these ones that everybody's on,” Farish said. “The sire's obviously doing great. He's a Book 1 sire, and you just expect you're going to have to pay up for ones like him.”

Columbiana Farm consigned the colt as agent for breeder Bo Hirsch, who said this was the most expensive yearling he had put through auction. Bloodstock agent Kathy Berkey, who serves as an adviser to Hirsch and Columbiana, said the placement of the colt in the sale’s second book was key to the colt’s popularity.

 “We felt he would stand out more in Book 2,” Berkey said. “We had two to sell [in this portion] and we wanted to sell on the same day instead of maybe being separated on different days. I think you can get just as good money in Book 2 as Book 1.”

Into Mischief was the fifth session’s leading sire by gross, with 13 yearlings sold for $2,290,000. The son of Harlan’s Holiday was led by $425,000 filly who sold to Spendthrift Farm, which stands Into Mischief at stud. Spendthrift finished as the session’s leading buyer.

The leading sire by average among those with three or more sold was Speightstown, who had four sell for an average price of $328,750. His most expensive yearling was a colt that sold to the partnership of China Horse Club and Maverick Racing, the nom de sale of WinStar Farm CEO Elliot Walden, for $350,000. Speightstown resides at WinStar Farm.

Taylor Made Sales Agency finished the day as the leading consignor by gross, with 28 horses sold for $3,409,000.

The Keeneland September sale continues daily with Books 3-6, with sessions beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.

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