09/14/2013 9:30PM

Keeneland September: Market hums along as Book 2 begins

Keeneland photo
A Tapit filly sold for $475,000 to Robert LaPenta's Whitehorse Stables to lead Saturday's fifth session of the Keeneland September yearling sale.

While lacking Book 1’s fireworks, the opening session of Book 2 at the Keeneland September yearling sale continued the positive momentum of the auction’s first four days, showing marked improvement over last year’s fifth session.

A total of 280 yearlings were sold during Saturday’s session for revenues of $35,308,000. That marks a 37 percent improvement over last year’s fifth session, which kicked off Book 3. In 2012, 296 horses sold for $25,791,000.

“Things are very good,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “I think the sale continued on as we had hoped and anticipated. The format of Book 1 has left a lot of buyers unable to fulfill their orders and they came out swinging today. It was solid all the way through.”

The average price of $126,100 was a 45 percent gain over last year’s fifth-session figure of $87,132, while the median rose 62 percent, from $70,000 to $112,500. The buyback rate rose to 27 percent after finishing at 21 percent in 2012.

“The consistency of the prices was exactly what we were hoping this session would do,” Russell said. “It was very, very strong.”

At the top of the market during Saturday’s trade, 15 horses sold for $300,000 or more, a significant jump from the six that reached or surpassed that point during last year’s fifth session.

A Tapit filly sold to Robert LaPenta for $475,000 in the afternoon hours to record the highest price of the day.

Bloodstock agent John Panagot, who signed the ticket in the name of LaPenta’s Whitehorse Stables, said that the filly would be sent to Ocala, Fla., to be broken by Niall Brennan before joining trainer Chad Brown’s string next spring.

“She’s by Tapit, who is obviously one of the top sires out there. The boss was a big Tapit fan,” Panagot said. “Chad and I did our rounds, and thought she was the nicest filly we’ve seen. She’s out of a Carson City mare, there’s a chance to run early and win early. And she had a great physical.”

The filly is out of the winning Carson City mare Seeinsbelieven, whose lone runner is the stakes-winning Stormy Atlantic filly Aquapazza. Seeinsbelievin is a half-sister to graded stakes winners Softly and Coragil Cat; it is the family of graded stakes winners Til Forbid, Sara Louise, Just Louise, and Mister Marti Gras.

She was bred in Kentucky by Gainesway, which also consigned the filly as agent. The farm stands Tapit, among the leading sires through the first five days of the Keeneland September sale.

The filly is the most expensive of three foals out of her dam to sell, edging the $425,000 paid for her full brother Whatdidyousee at the 2011 Keeneland September sale. Panagot said that the price was in the “ballpark” of what he expected to pay.

Also among the notable horses selling on Saturday was a full sister to dual classic-winning champion Afleet Alex, who went to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $400,000.

The bay filly is out of the winning Hawkster mare Maggy Hawk, who is the dam of three winners from five foals to race. In addition to three-time Grade 1 winner Afleet Alex, the filly is a full sister to Grade 3-placed stakes winner Unforgettable Max and a half-sister to stakes-placed winner Stormin Maggy. She is also a half-sister to two additional stakes-producing mares.

“She’s a nice filly,” Pope said after signing the ticket. “She’s smaller, but she’s well-balanced and put together. Obviously, she’s a full sister to two very nice horses, and hopefully she’ll be able to run like they did and go on and have a wonderful broodmare career.”

Three Chimneys Sales consigned the Kentucky-foaled filly as agent for breeder Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings.

Gainesway led all consignors by gross during the fifth session with 25 yearlings sold for $4,840,000, led by the top-priced Tapit filly. LaPenta’s Whitehorse Stables, the buyer of the session-topper, was also the top buyer of the day, with six purchases totaling $1,835,000.

Lane’s End stallion Mineshaft was the leading sire of the session by gross, with nine yearlings sold for $1,462,000. His top seller was a $400,000 half-brother to Grade 2 winner Authenticity who went to Elliot Walden’s Maverick Racing.

Tapit was the leading sire by average sale price with three or more yearlings sold. Led by the session-topper, Tapit’s foals accounted for five transactions at an average price of $257,000.

Through five sessions, a total of 826 horses have sold for $188,693,000, up 19 percent from the 951 yearlings sold for $158,644,000 last year at this point. The average of $228,442 is up 37 percent from $166,818, while the median is 59 percent ahead of last year’s figure, from $110,000 to $175,000.

Book 2 of the Keeneland September sale continues on Sunday, with the session beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern. The sale, which contains five books, will proceed through Sept. 21.

- Additional reporting by Nicole Russo