09/14/2014 9:15PM

Keeneland September: Figures pick up to close Book 2


The second book of the Keeneland September yearling sale closed with authority on Sunday, posting significant gains over the sixth session of last year’s edition.

A total of 250 horses were sold during Sunday’s session for revenues of $28,430,000, bettering last year’s day six performance of 290 sold for $28,229,000 by one percent.

The average sale price experienced a 17 percent boost from $97,341 to $113,720, while the median rose 13 percent from $80,000 to $90,000. The clearance rate took a blow on Sunday, with 32 percent of the horses offered being bought back, compared to 23 percent last year.

“I thought it was a good, solid session,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “It was good to see the two sessions between Saturday and Sunday coming together closer, which is an important aspect to us all. Overall, it was very good.”

The 21 horses to sell for $250,000 or more during Sunday’s session were a significant improvement from the 11 to do so during last year’s sixth day of selling. Combining the two sessions that comprised Book 2, a total of 48 yearlings brought a quarter-million or more, rising above 42 in 2013.

Looking even higher in the market, six yearlings sold for $400,000 on Sunday, while none crossed that threshold during the comparable session last year. The number of horses to meet or surpass that price over both days of Book 2 rose from five to nine.

John G. Sikura of Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm and Bruce Lunsford went in together on the highest-priced offering of Sunday’s session, with agent Donato Lanni going to $700,000 to secure a Smart Strike filly out of the stakes-placed Awesome Again mare Distinctively, whose only foal to race is a winner. The second dam is champion Heavenly Prize, making Distinctively a half sister to Grade 1 winner Good Reward and Grade 2 winner Pure Prize, both sires. The family also includes Grade 1 winners Persistently, Dancing Spree, Furlough, Fantastic Find, Oh What a Windfall, and Dancing Forever.

The filly was sold as property of KatieRich Farm, which bred her in Kentucky. KatieRich also sold the Elusive Quality colt Wizardly, the only other foal out of Distinctively to be offered at auction, for $370,000.

“We try to buy a top filly every year,” Sikura said. “This filly fit the criteria. Of course, she brought more than we wanted to give, but when you like one, you’re supposed to keep bidding. When you really want a horse that fits the criteria and looks the part, you keep going. We chased this filly, but it was a filly we were determined to have.”

Sikura and Lunsford have partnered on several filly purchases over the years, including Fascinating, a Grade 1-placed half sister to Bodemeister, secured at the 2012 Keeneland September sale for $1.3 million. Fascinating, like the filly purchased on Sunday, is by Smart Strike. Sikura and Lunsford have also partnered on broodmares, including Madcap Escapade.

“Hopefully this filly will add to our group. In the end, four, five, or six fillies will be retired to the broodmare band and hopefully be elite producers – a small, quality, boutique operation,” Sikura said. “Bruce Lunsford said, ‘Find something, go ahead and buy whatever you like.’ He’s been a gentleman, a good friend and partner. When someone trusts you and gives you full authority to do what you like, that’s a good feeling.”

Lane’s End stallion Mineshaft was the leading sire by gross on Sunday, with 12 foals bringing a combined $2,025,000. His progeny were led by a filly out of the stakes-placed Pleasant Tap mare Pleasant Lyrics, going to Crupi’s New Castle Farm for $440,000.

Smart Strike, another Lane’s End stallion, led the day by average progeny sale price with three or more sold. His three foals to sell brought an average of $341,667, highlighted by the session-topper.

Paramount Sales was the leading consignor by gross during the sixth session, moving 20 horses for a total of $3,027,000. The consignment of Pat Costello and Gabriel Duignan was led by the session’s third-highest-priced offering, a $480,000 Hard Spun filly purchased by Stonestreet Stables.

Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables was the session’s leading buyer, with three purchases totaling $870,000, led by the aforementioned Hard Spun filly.

After six days of selling, a total of 1,017 horses have grossed a combined $206,217,500, down five percent from last year when 1,116 horses sold after six sessions for revenues of $216,922,000.

The cumulative average sale price of $202,770 is a four percent improvement from $194,375 at the end of Book 2 last year, while the median rose three percent from $145,000 to $150,000. The buyback rate remained close with last year, rising a single percentage point from 26 percent to 27 percent.

Monday’s session kicks off Book 3 of the six-book Keeneland September sale. The auction continues daily until Sunday, Sept. 21, beginning each day at 10 a.m.

For complete sale results, click here.

Keeneland September yearling sale, sixth session results

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2014 250 $28,430,000 (+1%) $113,720 (+17%) $90,000 (+13%) 32%
2013 290 $28,229,000 $97,341 $80,000 23%