09/19/2016 7:52PM

Keeneland September: Book 3 carries on positive momentum

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While forecasts for the middle market were mixed at best heading into the Keeneland September yearling sale, the auction’s Book 3 saw solid improvement across the measurables.

The two days that comprised Book 3 saw 555 yearlings sold for revenues of $44,178,500, up 9 percent from last year’s comparable sessions, when 536 horses brought $40,652,500.

The Book 3 average closed at $79,601, up 5 percent from $75,844 during last year’s sale, while the median rose 18 percent to $65,000 from $55,000.

At the top of the market, two horses sold for $500,000 or more, tying the number to do so last year. The number of horses to bring $250,000 or more rose to 17 from 14, while six-figure horses in Book 3 increased to 155 from 137.

The buyback rate for Book 3 closed at 24 percent, compared with last year’s sixth and seventh sessions, which finished at 27 percent.

“Based on the fact that there are a lot of people out there that probably haven’t filled their orders, I think it bodes well as we go through the week,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “We hope those who weren’t able to buy in Book 3 are still going to be hanging around for Book 4.

“We’ve got new groups of people starting to arrive,” he continued. “We’ve seen the Koreans on the pages, and we’re hoping to see the Russians come out, and different flavors from North America, too.”

Trade in Book 3 was topped by a $700,000 Pioneerof the Nile colt who sold to the Haughey family’s PTK as the second-to-last offering of Sunday’s session. He was consigned by Woods Edge Farm, agent.

Monday’s session finished with 286 horses sold for revenues of $20,935,000, which marked a 0.47 percent decline from last year’s day-seven gross of $21,034,500 from 270 sold.

The session’s average sale price declined 6 percent to $73,201 from $77,906, while the median rose 5 percent to $57,500 from $55,000.

Monday’s buyback rate finished at 22 percent improving from 26 percent the previous year. It was the lowest percentage of horses to finish under their reserves during a session of the 2016 Keeneland September sale thus far.

A Bernardini colt topped the session, selling to Ben Glass, as agent for owners Gary and Mary West, for $600,000.

The dark bay or brown colt is the first foal out of the winning Unbridled's Song mare With Sugar On Top, who is herself a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Frosted. The extended page includes champion Midshipman, Grade 2-winning second dam Fast Cookie and third dam Fleet Lady, and additional Group 2 winner Running Tall.

"I didn't think I'd get him,” Glass said. “I thought he'd bring more. I thought I'd get outbid by Mike Ryan or the guys out back looking at him.

“I don't know what he was doing in this book, but he was a very nice colt,” Glass continued. “He's racy, he's an athletic-looking horse, he's got a great walk. If he cuts the mustard, he'll be a great sire prospect with Frosted [in the family]. You've got to try to buy those kinds."

Bred in Kentucky by Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum's Godolphin operation, the colt was consigned at the September sale by Taylor Made Sales Agency, as agent. He is a second-generation Godolphin-bred, and the first foal out of the dam or second dam to sell at auction.

The colt was part of a global initiative by Godolphin to reduce its bloodstock holdings through the yearling auction ring. Godolphin-breds comprised 65 entries in this year's Keeneland September sale prior to outs, spread over five different consignors. The operation has already sold horses at this year's Tattersalls July sale in England and the Inglis sale of broodmares and weanlings in Australia.

“Normally they don't sell them and you don't get a chance to buy them, so you've got to try to take the opportunity when it happens,” Glass said. "When Mr. West says to buy them, you buy them. He's very clear-cut, either black or white.”

Hill ‘n’ Dale resident Curlin was the Monday’s leading sire by both gross and average among those with three or more sold, with five yearlings bringing a combined $930,000 and an average of $186,000.

Lane’s End Farm finished the day as the leading consignor, with 31 yearlings sold for $2,726,000. The consignment accounted for Monday’s second-most-expensive offering, a $485,000 Curlin colt who sold to Mike Ryan, as agent, for $485,000.

Ryan was also the day’s leading buyer, with five purchases totaling $1,020,000.

After seven days of trade, a total of 1,367 yearlings have changed hands for $233,684,500, trailing the same point of the sale in 2015, when 1,504 horses brought $245,570,500.

The current average sale price is outpacing last year by 5 percent, up to $170,947 from $163,278, while the median trails last year’s figure at the end of Book 3, falling 5 percent to $105,000 from $100,000.

The cumulative buyback rate of 29 percent was slightly ahead of the 28 percent figure at the same point last year.

The Keeneland September sale continues through Sept. 25, with sessions beginning each day at 10 a.m. Eastern.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.