09/23/2015 7:05PM

Keeneland September: Book 4 displays solid growth

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Solid trade continued at the Keeneland September yearling sale as the auction fleshed out the middle market, demonstrated by healthy returns at the conclusion of Book 4 on Wednesday.

A total of 572 yearlings sold during this year’s fourth book, comprising sessions eight and nine, for revenues of $24,876,800. That marked a 9 percent increase from last year’s Book 4, sessions nine and 10, when 565 horses brought $22,843,500.

The Book 4 average sale price rose 8 percent, from $40,431 to $43,491, while the median remained consistent from year-to-year at $30,000.

The Book 4 buyback rate closed at 21 percent, up slightly from 19 percent during last year’s comparable sessions.

Book 4 closed with seven horses sold for $200,000 or more, bettering last year’s group to meet that bar by two. The 55 yearlings who changed hands for six figures were a significant boost from the 41 to do so in 2014.

A colt from the first crop of Astrology topped Book 4, selling to Stonestreet Farm and George Bolton on Tuesday for $425,000.

The dark bay or brown colt is the first foal out of the placed More Than Ready mare Priceless Design, whose extended family includes Grade 1 winners General Challenge, Notable Career, and Evening Jewel.

“He’s a beautiful horse,” said John Moynihan, bloodstock adviser to Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Farm. “Barbara and George own the stallion. He was one of the prettiest horses we saw at the sales, so we wanted to support the stallion. That’s the reason we went in there swinging.

“He’s a carbon copy of what his father looked like as a yearling,” Moynihan continued. “We’ll race him and try to get the stallion off to a good start. Physically, he was a fantastic-looking horse. We’re really excited about the stallion. If he gets a lot more horses that look like this, he’s on his road to going the right way.”

Timber Town consigned the colt as agent for breeder Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm.

Wednesday’s trade closed on fairly even footing with last year’s final day of Book 4, with 280 yearlings selling for $10,684,100, a gross up 14 percent from last year’s 10th session when 276 horses brought $9,376,000.

The average sale price rose 12 percent between comparable sessions, from $33,971 to $38,158, while the median remained unchanged at $25,000. Wednesday’s buyback rate finished at 21 percent, just ahead of last year’s figure of 20 percent.

A half sister to Grade 1-winning juvenile Nyquist led Wednesday’s session, selling to Bridlewood Farm for $330,000.

The Blame filly is the second foal out of the winning Forestry mare Seeking Gabrielle, whose first foal, the Uncle Mo colt Nyquist, won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes. Nyquist is entered Saturday in the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita.

Extended family members include Grade 1 winner Sahara Sky, Grade 2 winner Seeking Regina, Grade 3 winner Seeking the Sky, and Grade 1-placed Seeking It All.

“She’s a nice filly, and being a half to the current top 2-year-old, she’s got a lot of residual value, so that’s kind of what they were thinking,” said Phil Hager of Crestwood Farm, who signed the ticket on behalf of Florida-based Bridlewood Farm. “She’s a really pretty filly, a May foal, so she’s got a lot to grow into herself.”

The filly sold as property of Paris, Ky.-based breeder Hinkle Farm, which purchased the dam for $100,000 with Wednesday’s session-topper in utero at the 2013 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Hinkle Farm is owned by brothers Tom and Henry Hinkle and Tom’s daughter Anne Archer, and has been in business for five decades.

Paramount Sales was Wednesday’s top consignor by gross, with 18 horses sold for $905,500, including two of the day’s top four offerings.

Bridlewood Farm was the session’s leading buyer with the sole purchase of the day’s most expensive horse.

Blame, who stands at Claiborne Farm, led the session’s sires by gross, with two yearlings sold for $445,000. First-crop stallion To Honor and Serve of Gainesway was the leader by average sale price among those with three or more sold, with three offerings sold for an average of $105,667.

At the close of Book 4, a total of 2,076 yearlings have sold over nine sessions of the Keeneland September sale for revenues of $270,447,300, up about 1 percent from last year’s 10-day gross of $268,795,000 from 2,153 sold.

The cumulative average is up 4 percent from $124,847 to $130,273, while the median tracks 11 percent up from last year’s pace, from $72,000 to $80,000. The overall buyback was 26 percent, up slightly from 23 percent at the end of last year’s fourth book.

The Keeneland September sale continues Thursday with the single-session Book 5, and runs daily through Sept. 26, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.