09/21/2016 6:49PM

Keeneland September: Book 4 shows strong middle market

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Book 4 of the Keeneland September yearling sale successfully carried the auction’s upward momentum into its second half with two days of improved trade.

The two days of Book 4 saw a combined 549 yearlings sold for revenues of $26,157,000, up 5 percent from the comparable sessions last year, when 572 horses sold for $24,876,800.

The average sale price for Book 4 finished at $47,645, marking a 10 percent improvement from $43,491 last year. The median increased 7 percent to $32,000 from $30,000.

Five horses sold for $250,000 or more in Book 4, tying the number to do so during the same period in 2015. The number of six-figure sales rose to 68 from 55.

The Book 4 buyback rate finished at 24 percent, up from 21 percent last year.

A pair of colts topped Book 4 during Tuesday’s session, each selling for $300,000. A son of Midnight Lute sold to Ruis Racing, while a colt from the first crop of Violence was purchased by Steven Young, as agent.

Wednesday’s session saw 274 horses change hands for $11,120,100, up 4 percent from last year’s ninth session, when 280 yearlings brought $10,684,100.

The average sale price rose 4 percent to $40,584 from $38,158, and the median jumped 20 percent to $30,000 from $25,000.

Two horses sold for $200,000 or more on Wednesday, trailing four that did so during last year’s similar session. However, the number of six-figure horses rose to 25 from 22.

Wednesday’s buyback rate closed at 25 percent, up from 21 percent last year.

A Majestic Warrior colt led Wednesday’s trade, going to Silverton Hill for $225,000.

The chestnut colt is the second foal out of the Grade 3-placed Lion Heart mare Hearts on Fire. Her first foal, a Lemon Drop Kid colt later named Fire Commissioner, brought $100,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.

"Obviously, [Majestic Warrior is] not the sizzle sire right now, but I've done very well over the years buying the best of an off sire," said bloodstock agent Bob Feld, who signed the ticket. "Even though he's not very hot right now, maybe this is the horse that puts him back on the map."

Majestic Warrior, the sire of Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar, was relocated to stand in Japan for the 2016 breeding season after previous residing at Coolmore's Ashford Stud.

The colt was bred in Kentucky by Dianne Connell, who bought the  for $77,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September sale. Extended family members include Grade 2 winner Wishing Gate and Grade 3 winner Rich in Spirit. Hidden Brook consigned the colt, as agent.

Feld said this was the first horse he had purchased for Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton's Silverton Hill, which has campaigned runners including Dominican, Sedgefield, Great Notion, Havelock, and Driving Snow.

"I got very lucky," Feld said. "A good friend referred me to them. [Tommy Hamilton] gave me a call just a couple days ago introducing themselves and said, 'Hey, if you like anything, send my wife a text,' so I texted them a list of horses. I didn't like anything as much yesterday, so I sent them a list today, and they liked this colt. 

"They wanted to buy a Derby horse - welcome to the club," he continued with a grin. "They said, 'We want a Derby colt or a stone-cold runner,' and I think he qualifies as both." 

Super Saver was the session’s leading sire by gross, with seven yearlings bringing $441,000. The WinStar Farm resident had a pair of horses sell for $140,000, with a colt going to James and Wachetta Driver and a filly selling to J. Stevens Bloodstock, as agent.

First-crop stallion Shanghai Bobby was Wednesday’s top stallion by average, among those with three or more sold, with three yearlings bringing an average of $93,000. A resident of Ashford Stud, Shanghai Bobby was led by a $180,000 colt who sold to W.D. North Thoroughbreds to tie for the session’s third-highest price.

Taylor Made Sales Agency finished the day as the leading consignor, with 26 horses sold for $1,084,500. The Nicholasville, Ky.-based consignment had a Mineshaft colt sell to Eric Brehm and an Old Fashioned filly go to Tracy and Paul Henline, each at $125,000, to top its offerings.

Bloodstock agent Mike Ryan was once again the session’s leading buyer, with two purchases totaling $380,000. He landed the day’s second-most-expensive horse, a Gemologist colt, for $220,000.

After nine days of the Keeneland September sale, a total of 1,916 yearlings have sold for $259,841,500, down 4 percent from the same point in 2015, when 2,076 horses sold for $270,447,300.

The average sale price tracked ahead 4 percent, to $135,617 from $130,273, while the median was unchanged at $80,000. The cumulative buyback rate sat at 28 percent, up from 26 percent last year.

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

For hip-by-hip results, click here.