09/14/2017 7:02PM

Keeneland September: Book 2 wraps up with gains

Keeneland photo
A Scat Daddy colt sold for $1.1 million to Coolmore's M.V. Magnier to lead Book 2 of the Keeneland September yearling sale, which closed with gains.

Keeneland aimed to start its September yearling sale with a bang and carry the momentum through the first week when it changed the look of the auction’s front end. At the close of Thursday’s trade, it was apparent that goal had been achieved, with all measurables up and the most seven-figure transactions at the sale since 2014.

Thursday’s fourth session of the Keeneland September sale wrapped Book 2 of a revamped catalog. Books 1 and 2 of this year’s renewal were arranged with an ultra-select, single-session first book followed by three Book 2 sessions before the auction’s traditional dark day. By comparison, last year’s sale featured a three-day Book 1, followed by the dark day, then two Book 2 sessions.

The concentration of boutique-level horses into Book 1 also pushed plenty of high-end horses and buyers into Book 2, as evidenced by five seven-figure lots changing hands during the second book.

“We’ve had million-dollar horses throughout, which I think just shows you the strength of the market at the moment,” Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales operations, said. “I think there is a hunger for those top-end horses at the moment, so it was nice to have those two million-dollar horses today. I think the table has been very well set for the rest of the sale based on this first week.”

This year’s Book 2 closed with 585 horses sold for revenues of $142,470,000. The cumulative average sale price for the second book rose 64 percent to $243,123 from $148,672, the median grew 57 percent to $185,000 from $117,500, and the Book 2 buyback rate finished at 32 percent compared with 33 percent last year.

In addition to the five horses sold for seven figures, the number of yearlings to bring $750,000 or more in Book 2 rose to 20 from two, while horses to cross the $500,000 threshold rose to 68 from nine.

The most expensive offering of Book 2 was a $1.1-million colt from the final crop of Scat Daddy out of the placed Tapit mare Orchard Beach, who sold to M.V. Magnier of the Coolmore partnership. Yearlings by the late Scat Daddy topped or co-topped all three sessions of Book 2.

Through Books 1 and 2, a total of 681 horses have grossed $196,645,000, up 4 percent from the same point last year, when 812 horses sold for $189,506,000.

The average sale price after the first two books rose 24 percent to $288,759 from $233,382, while the median was up 18 percent to $200,000 from $170,000. The buyback rate of 33 percent was up slightly from 32 percent.

:: KEENELAND SEPTEMBER: Real-time analysis and streaming video ::

While the auction’s opening books were dominated at the top by many of the usual major players, Russell said one of the most interesting developments was the number of buyers outside of that sphere who put in efforts to climb the ladder.

“Several re-established clients who have bought in the past and have been gone for a while made a very large splash coming back,” he said. “I think a lot of people also stepped up from what they’ve spent in the past. A lot of people re-established their credit at a higher level, and they partook to that level.”

Thursday’s session saw 198 horses sold for $47,231,000. That generated an average sale price of $238,540, a median of $175,000, and a buyback rate of 30 percent.

A pair of million-dollar horses topped the session, selling nearly back-to-back.

The first past the point was a Tapit filly out of the Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can who sold to Don Alberto Corp.

The filly is the second foal out of Believe You Can. Her first, the Tapit colt Believe in Royalty, sold for $900,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale. The extended family includes Grade 2 winner Classic Elegance and Grade 3 winner Chorwon.

"We have to start changing our mind toward American lines,” said Liliana Solari of Don Alberto, which was established in Chile before making inroads in the U.S. several years ago, purchasing the former Vinery property and beginning to build a broodmare band. “We have many Irish and English mares, and here, they don't like them. Even if they're very good, they don't like them, so we have to change to American lines, and that's what we're doing here."

The filly was bred in Kentucky and consigned by Brereton Jones’ Airdrie Stud, who also bred and raced Believe You Can. Jones offered Believe You Can in foal to Tapit at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select fall mixed sale, but she finished under her reserve with a final bid of $4.9 million.

"What all the smart people tell us is she looks exactly like the good Tapits,” Airdrie’s Bret Jones said. “She's not a great big, robust filly, but she's a beautifully put together filly that just gives you the feeling she's going to give you everything she's got on the racetrack.”

Moments later, a Scat Daddy colt went to Kerri Radcliffe on behalf of Phoenix Thoroughbreds for the same amount.

The filly is out of the Grade 3-placed Ghostzapper mare Beloveda, whose first foal to race is a winner. Her extended family features Grade/Group 3 winners Golden Mystery and Voyagers Quest.

"This was my favorite horse of the whole sale,” Radcliffe said. “I saw her Sunday, and I wasn't going home without her. This was the best horse of the sale in my eyes. I was not going home without her. She's a queen, and hopefully she'll be in the Queen Mary [during the Royal Ascot meet] next year.”

After making the purchase, Radcliffe said the filly would be sent to Europe to begin her racing career with Jeremy Noseda.

The filly was bred in Kentucky and consigned by Antony Beck’s Gainesway Thoroughbreds, the farm’s director of sales Michael Hernon, and director of public sales Brian Graves. They purchased Beloveda as a broodmare prospect for $205,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale.

"She rose to the occasion here,” Hernon said of the filly. “She was shown over 220 times, and was just as strong in the end. She came along really well, I'd say, in the last six weeks. She vetted clean, she attracted all the top buyers, as she deserved to do. We think she's a Royal Ascot filly.”

Curlin, a resident of Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, finished as Thursday’s leading sire by gross, with 12 horses sold for $4,740,000. He had two of the day’s six most expensive offerings, led by an $850,000 colt sold to Paul Fireman’s Fern Circle Stables.

The top sire by average among those with three or more sold was WinStar Farm’s Pioneerof the Nile, who had 11 yearlings bring an average of $424,545. John Oxley bought the most expensive of his foals on the day, an $800,000 filly.

Taylor Made Sales Agency was the leading consignor by gross for the third time of the first four sessions, moving 33 horses for $6,617,000. The consignment’s most expensive offering was a Scat Daddy colt that sold to Godolphin for $650,000.

Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm was Thursday’s leading buyer, with seven purchases totaling $1,675,000. His top purchase was a $360,000 Giant’s Causeway colt.

The Keeneland September sale picks back up on Saturday, and continues daily through Sept. 23, beginning each day at 10 a.m. Eastern.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.

Keeneland September Books 1 and 2, cumulative results

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2017 681 (-16%) $196,645,000 (+4%) $288,759 (+24%) $200,000 (+18%) 33%
2016 812 $189,506,000 $233,382 $170,000 32%

Keeneland September Book 2, top five purchases

Price Pedigree Buyer Consignor
$1,100,000 colt by Scat Daddy - Orchard Beach, by Tapit M.V. Magnier Anderson Farms
$1,000,000 colt by Quality Road - Storm Minstrel, by Storm Cat White Birch Farm and M.V. Magnier Indian Creek, agent
$1,000,000 colt by Orb - Tally Ho Dixie, by Dixieland Band Kerri Radcliffe Bloodstock and Eric Fein Dromoland Farm, agent
$1,000,000 filly by Tapit - Believe You Can, by Proud Citizen Don Alberto Corp. Brereton C. Jones/Airdrie Stud
$1,000,000 filly by Scat Daddy - Beloveda, by Ghostzapper Kerri Radcliffe Bloodstock Gainesway, agent