09/13/2016 5:10PM

Keeneland September: Increases in average, median continue

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The second session of the Keeneland September yearling sale continued the trend established opening day of steady improvements in average and median sale prices with fewer horses sold, with Tuesday’s action led by $1.2-million Tapit colt.

The second session saw 119 yearlings change hands for $37,959,000; that total gross was down 12 percent from last year’s second session when 142 horses sold for $42,965,000.

The average sale price rose 5 percent from $302,570 to $318,983, while the day’s median saw an 18 percent increase from $245,000 to $290,000.

While three horses sold for seven figures during last year’s second session, just one did so on Tuesday. However, the number of yearlings sold for $500,000 or above rose from 21 to 26.

“We’ve seen it all year, the strength has been in that $500,000 to $900,000 level at all sales,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “To break through that, you have to have that special horse that has all the criteria.”

The buyback rate finished at 31 percent, a tick improved from 32 percent during the second day of the 2015 sale. It also marked a noticeable improvement from Monday’s opening session, which finished at 36 percent.

“In Book 1, [sellers] can also be end-users, so these people have the ability to go on and race these horses,” Russell said. “It’s good that the buyback rate is back to being more manageable, and we hope it continues on.”

The new sale-topper came in the waning offerings of Tuesday's session, with bloodstock agent J.J. Crupi going to $1.2 million to secure a Tapit colt out of the Grade 1-winning Cloud Hopping mare Hooh Why.

The gray or roan colt is the second foal out of Hooh Why, whose biggest victory came in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. The price was a stark contrast to Hooh Why's first foal, a Leroidesanimaux colt who was a $37,000 buyback at last year's Keeneland September yearling sale and was later sold privately to Russian interests.

"I fell in love with him when I saw him come out of the stall," Crupi said. "You can knock any horse. He has some knocks, but Tapit overcomes those knocks. We just finished with a dead heat with two Tapits at Saratoga [Sweet Loretta and Pretty City Dancer in the Spinaway Stakes]."

The colt was bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, who purchased Hooh Why with her first foal in utero for $550,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton November sale. SF Bloodstock offered the mare with this colt in utero at the 2014 November sale, but she finished under her reserve with a final bid of $750,000.

Baccari Bloodstock consigned the Tapit colt as agent.

"The mare was a really good rachorse herself, and physically, he was a very special Tapit," said Chris Baccari. "I have some friends that are professionals that I believe their opinion, and they told me they thought he was one of the better ones.

"He just has a lot more wideness to him, more bone, a lot more foot," he continued. "He's just naturally thick. It's not man-made. That's just him. He looks just like his mother."

Crupi said the colt would be sent to his Crupi's New Castle Farm in Ocala, Fla., to be broken for the new owner, then would go to trainer Todd Pletcher.

"He just had a beautiful body and a big walk, and I fell in love with him," Crupi said. "We weren't leaving here without him." 

Tuesday’s session also saw some controversy late in the day when an error in entering the reserve for a War Front colt out of 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace led what would have been the sale-topper to become a $1.9-million buyback.

Following the session, breeder Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm said the colt’s final bid had surpassed the reserve she had intended, and apologized to buyers and agents who bid on the colt after being told he would be available at that price. Pope did not reveal the intended reserve.

:: For complete Keeneland September coverage, visit DRF Breeding Live ::

Russell said the auction company worked with the reserve it had been provided.

Leading commercial sire Tapit was once again the session’s top sire by gross, with 10 horses sold for $6,515,000, including the new sale-topper. The resident of Gainesway in Lexington, Ky. was also the leading sire by average, at $651,500.

Taylor Made Sales Agency was the leading consignor by gross, with 16 yearlings sold for a combined $4,360,000.

It was also a big session for Brereton Jones’ Aidrie Stud, which bred and consigned the two horses that tied for the day’s second-highest price at $900,000. The first was a Tapit colt out of Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can who went to William Mack and Robert Baker. He was followed later in the day by a War Front half-brothers to Grade 1 winners Include Me Out and Check The Label, sold to Japan’s Shadai Farm.

After two sessions, a total of 227 yearlings had sold for $72,490,000, down 17 percent from the same point in 2015. The average sale price trended up 6 percent from $300,024 to $319,339, while the median was up 12 percent from $250,000 to $280,000.

Book 1 of the Keeneland September sale concludes Wednesday, with a session beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern. Following the auction’s traditional dark day on Thursday, the remainder of the sale runs daily through Sept. 25 with a 10 a.m. start time.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.

-- Additional reporting by Nicole Russo

Keeneland September yearling sale, session 2 results

Year Sold Gross Average Median Buyback
2016 119 (-16%) $37,959,000 (-12%) $318,983 (+5%) $290,000 (+18%) 31%
2015 142 $42,965,000 $302,570 $245,000 32%